MERRION defend their Premier League title in this year’s Grand Final at Anglesea Road against Irish Cup winners Pembroke today, a fitting finale to the club season.

The high noon shoot-out was due to go ahead without the Ireland internationals, who should have been in Edinburgh today playing for the Dublin Chiefs in the Euro T20 Slam, but the postponement of the first edition of the tournament to next year means Tyrone Kane lines out for the defending champions and Andrew Balbirnie, Josh Little and Lorcan Tucker get the chance to pick up a second winners medal this season.

Ireland’s 25 leading T20 players are currently in a five-day training camp ahead of the upcoming Tri-Series against Scotland and Netherlands but the Merrion and Pembroke players have been excused to play today’s game.

It is four weeks since Pembroke won the play-off game against Merrion to go straight through to today’s final but Merrion, as League winners in the regular season, got a second chance to reach the decider and an emphatic 125 runs victory over The Hills confirmed today’s showdown between the league’s top two sides.

Merrion were shot out for 99 in the play-off game, with Barry McCarthy and Shaheen Khan each taking three wickets, but Oliver Newton had the game’s best figures of 3-18 for Merrion and he followed that up with 5-21 against The Hills so will be again the bowler that Pembroke will fear most.

But the Sydney Parade side proved in the Irish Cup final they do not rely on their Ireland internationals with Balbirnie and Tucker both overshadowed by Theo Lawson and South African Shaheen who scored a century and took three wickets to win the man of the match.

The battle between Shaheen and Newton is just one of the many head-to-heads which should ensure a memorable, one-off, Grand Final.