Merrion had to do it the hard way. First they topped the league and even after losing to Pembroke in the final round of matches they were still ahead by a margins of 16.5 points. Then they had to do it all again and win the play-off of the two tops teams, again against Pembroke.
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With a clean sheet of wins up until the final round Merrion were never out of contention and pretty much led from the front.
Merrion started their campaign with a win over Leinster. Batting first they made 231 all out with Jack Carty  leading the way. The Leinster batting was then swept away by the Merrion attack and bowled out for 124 – Max Sorensen [2/23], James Hitchcock [2/25], Jack Carty 2/21 and Amish Sidhu 3/17]. John O’Hara made his senior debut [he had played earlier in the season in the T20 competition but these don’t count], taking two catches behind the stumps.
It was at this point that Merrion had a bit of good fortune. Having scored a below par 194 all out against YMCA at Anglesea Road, the visitors had reached 70/2 before the game ended due to bad light before DLS could be applied.
The next completed game was against Clontarf, and again it was foreshortened and having bowled Clontarf out for 103, Merrion just got over the line winning by five wickets. In this case it was Max Neville [3/24], Tom Stanton [3/24] and Sidhu [4/11] who took the wickets. But it also saw the senior debut of Daniel Forkin who bowled an economic four over spell [0/8]. When Merrion got to bat they were soon in trouble with all three of the top order out early. It was left to Niranjan Shankar  and Sean Stanton [20*] to get the team over the line – just. With the earlier game against YMCA not counting, it was also Doheny’ official senior debut for Merrion.
With games rained off their followed a couple of T20 re-fixes, which we are quite good at. Taking on YMCA at the second attempt Merrion posted 150/5 in their 20 overs with all five top order bats getting into double figures – Carty , Stephen Doheny , Anderson , Dom Joyce  and Sorensen [22*]. When it came their turn to bowl the Merrion left-arm spin attack squeezed the life out of the game. All bowling their full complement of four overs they returned, Forkin [4/21], Amish Sidhu [2/22] and Tom Stanton [1/17]. YMCA were bowled out for 83.
A trip to The Hills for another T20 re-fix more economical bowling s the home side were held to 102 all out in 20 overs. Jamie MacNulty led the attack [replacing Max Neville who was abroad] and wickets were widely shared. Merrion got home with out too much drama in the 16th over to win by eight wickets. Carty [3/21] nipped in with increase his season’s haul of wickets and also assisted in two run outs.
With the finishing line now in sight, Merrion at last got back to playing a 50 overs game. It was a crunch encounter against league contenders Malahide at home was the occasion of a very rare undefeated 200 run partnership [the fifth highest in Merrion’s history] between Anderson [102*] and Doheny [108*]. Earlier 10 over spells from Stanton [3/27] and Sidhu [2/31] had kept Malahide from posting much higher total. Merrion win by nine wickets.
Another T20 re-fix, this time away to Phoenix was successfully navigated as the hosts were bowled out for 124. High Kennedy [2/31] led the way with early wickets but the crucial contributions were the left-arm spin of Forkin [3/24] and Sidhu [3/10]. The match also saw the first outing of the season for Peter Forkin.
Merrion’s reply suffered a couple of early casualties but order was restored by Anderson [59*] and Michael Lewis . Win by seven wickets.
By the last round of the competition Merrion had already secured a place in the play-off final. Merrion batted first and wickets fell quickly with only Anderson , batting in the unfamiliar position of No. 6] making the only telling contribution. The bowlers fought hard and brought Pembroke to the final over before they eventually won by three wickets. Again the bulk of the bowling [27 overs] fell to the three spinners Stanton [1/28], Sidhu [2/28] and Daniel Forkin [1/31].
The final took place at Sydney Parade against Pembroke on 11th September. Merrion won the toss and decided to bat. On a good but somewhat slow wicket they produced perhaps their best all round batting performance of the season. A century opening partnership between Carty  and Doheny  laid the foundation and another Anderson  half century consolidated the innings. But it was the acceleration in the final few overs from Lewis [20* from 6 balls] and Sorensen [28 at a run a ball], that propelled the total to an above par 261/3.
Pembroke were soon in trouble as Neville [2/39] and Tom Stanton [2/33] took early wickets. There were a couple of significant partnerships and momentary concerns but Merrion remained in control throughout. All the bowlers took wickets with Sorensen [2/21] and Sidhu [2/33] taking a couple each. In the end Pembroke were bowled out for 199 in 46 overs.
An account of the game can also be found on the Cricket Leinster website
Merrion win the senior [Premier] league title for the seventh occasion, the last time being in 2018. Over the shortened Premier season 19 players turned out for the 1st XI. There were senior debuts for John O’Hara, Grant Glutz, Daniel Forkin and a Merrion debut for Stephen Doheny. Player performances and averages will be covered in a future article.