Bobby Swarbrigg (CricketEurope)
Leinster Premier League Grand Final
A full strength Merrion should always beat a Pembroke side stripped of its four Ireland players and so it proved in Saturday’s Grand Final at Sydney Parade.
Merrion shook off the apathy that seemed to have affected them in the last match of the regular season at Anglesea Road last week when they submitted tamely to the same opposition, losing by three wickets.
On this occasion the table toppers were in full battle mode with the title of Leinster Premier League Champions at stake, and they made their intentions clear from the start.
Having won the toss, Merrion captain Tom Stanton chose to bat first and his decision was shown to be correct as his openers Jack Carty and Stephen Doheny had scored 124 runs before the first wicket fell; Jack Carty (55) had laid a solid foundation before being caught behind by Greg Hollins off the bowling of Fiachra Tucker.
The arrival of John Anderson to join Doheny initiated a 69 run partnership. The Merrion score had advanced to 193 in the 43rd over when Fiachra Tucker struck again, finding a way through Doheny’s defence to rattle the timbers.
In the next six overs Anderson and Max Sorensen had built another valuable partnership, 42 runs this time. Anderson (51) was then caught by Jonathan Garth, bowled by Gavin Hoey in the 49th over.
With nine balls to face, Sorensen (28*) and Michael Lewis (20*) had licence to hit out, and that’s exactly what they did. Lewis’s 20 runs coming off just 6 deliveries and included 2 sixes and a four, as Merrion closed on 261/3 off 50 overs.
With a mountain to climb, Pembroke were going to need a steady start from their opening batsmen, but when Danny Hogan shot a duck off the first ball he faced, edging behind off Tom Stanton for Doheny to pouch, a shiver ran through the Pembroke ranks.
Theo Lawson (6) joined Scott Ruttle in the middle but the usually free-scoring Theo couldn’t get to grips with the Merrion bowling and, having faced 25 balls, Max Neville induced him to offer a chance which was gratefully accepted by Lewis.
Ruttle (6) was back on the bench in the 11th over and Pembroke were 3 down for 16. The Pembroke skipper, Fiachra Tucker (58) top scored for his team but he couldn’t find a colleague to help build a partnership, Garth (16) and Gavin Hoey (3) came and went offering a little support but the ‘broke were 5 down for 61.
Greg Hollins (27) did get behind his captain for a partnership of 61 but in the 36th over, Fiachra fell to that Doheny/Stanton combo. Pembroke 122/6.
A defiant 42* off 27 balls from Ryan Hopkins proved to be in vain as the gun-barrel straight pace of Max Sorensen saw off the tail, Paul Lawson who was bowled for 26 off 23 deliveries, brought the total to 199/9, nothing was added by Joe Prendergast, LBW to the second ball he faced. Pembroke were all out for 199.
The Merrion bowlers shared the wickets with Max Sorensen taking 2-21, Tom Stanton and Amish Sidhu each taking 2-31, Max Neville 2-39 and there was one each for Hugh Kennedy and Jack Carty.
Merrion, 261/3 beat Pembroke, 199 by 62 runs and are Leinster Premier Champions. This was a never-say-die effort by Pembroke who were without Andy Balbirnie, Lorcan Tucker, Barry McCarthy and Josh Little who are away on national service where we wish them good fortune in the third ODI against Zimbabwe tomorrow in Belfast.