Mixed fortunes for the Women’s and Open 1st XIs in their respective finals, but really two excellent T20 matches which could have gone either way. There is a certain weariness, at least on my part, with the sole diet of T20 cricket that we have had to endure over the past two years. But the two finals did something to redress the balance. Both games were competitive throughout, there was an ebb and flow to the games with first one team and then the other achieving the upper hand. Of course it would have been nice to win both finals – but overall both teams can be proud of their efforts to get to the finals and their performances on the day.
On Friday night the Womens 1st XI took on Pembroke. Pembroke batted first and for much of their innings Merrion looked to be in reasonable control. Mary Waldron  and Louise Little  had got the home team [the game was played after all in Sydney Parade] off to a good start but the run rate had been held in check. With both openers run out and Shauna Kavanagh bowled by captain Leah Paul, Merrion looked to be in a good position to hold Pembroke to a score of around 120 – 130. But an onslaught from Orla Prendergast [54 off 26 balls] tilted the game in Pembroke’s favour. 160 / 4 after 20 overs was a big total to chase.
Merrion of course could take comfort from the fact that they had chased down a similar score by a strong Leinster side in the semi-final. They started steadily, first seeing off the initial onslaught by Prendergast with the new ball and then gradually getting into the game. Merrion were half way to the required total in the 10th over before the first wicket fell [Leah Paul for 27]. Rebecca Stokell continued on her way to a half century and was next out with the score on 124 and 4.5 overs to go. Another wicket fell while the runs kept coming. But the pressure was always on the batting side to keep up with the run rate and in the end Merrion fell two runs short.
Of course in such a tight game there were many things you could point to that would have resulted in a win. But had the result been reversed Pembroke could have said the same. Perhaps best to say that it was an excellent game of cricket, played to a high standard and which showed women’s club cricket in the best possible light.
The next day Merrion’s 1st XI took the field against YMCA. This time Merrion got to bat first and lost the wicket of Michael Lewis in the first over. But a partnership between Jack Carty and John Anderson soon picked up momentum and when John Anderson  fell in at the start of the eight over Merrion had reached 68. While Carty  continued to provide the backbone to the innings it was left Dom Joyce to provide the impetus until he was run out for 43 [off 34 balls]. With the departure of Joyce, Sorensen and Carty then fell in quick succession the innings fizzled out with only 7 runs coming from the last two overs. A total of 150 was certainly competitive, but less than Merrion might have hoped for at one stage.
YMCA got off to a quick start with Rory Anders launching two massive sixes in the first over. But a mix up the next over produced a run out and when Jack Tector came down the wicket to captain Tom Stanton and was bowled, YMCA were 31/2. But with Tim Tector  going at a run a ball, and Curtis Campher  even faster, YMCA gradually wrested control of the game until by the start 13th over they were 89/2 and needed 66 runs from seven overs with eight wickets in hand. But some excellent fielding and tight bowling by Amish Sidhu [0/15 off four overs] kept the pressure on the batting side and when Tector was run with a great throw from Joyce on the boundary, Merrion were back in it. Some more top fielding – two excellent catches from Grant Glutz and Max Sorensen and another smart run out [Joyce and Lewis combining] brought Merrion back into the game. But it was still anyone’s game up to the final few overs – but two great overs from Jack Carty [1/9] pulled Merrion over the line to win by six runs.
Another great game of T20 cricket with oscillating fortunes, excellent performances and this time the right result. Both sides fielded very well but perhaps the final plaudits should go to the older side [Merrion] who produced one of their best fielding performances in years.