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Merrion Women – Still all to play for

A resounding victory over Clontarf in the Sprint Coatings Women’s Senior Cup Final saw Merrion Women’s 1st XI take home their first trophy of the season with three more titles still on the table.

Clontarf won the toss and with the threat of rain around, opted to bowl first. They would have been ruing that decision before long as they failed to take wickets and the opening stand between Leah Paul and Rebecca Stokell cost them 149 runs. They did dismiss Paul (58) and Stokell (70) in the 18th over when Julie McNally took two wickets in two balls.

Cecelia Joyce and Hannah de Burgh Whyte added 11 runs in the final two overs to see Merrion post a competitive total of 160.

Clontarf started well with Bhavi Devchand (17) going on the attack early, but it was short-lived as Julianne Morrissey – as she so often does – removed the danger woman, with Joyce taking a smart catch running backwards in midwicket. Morrissey struck twice more before her spell was over, removing number three batter, Aoife Brennan (8), and the other opener, Christina Coulter-Reilly (17), caught and stumped respectively.

From there, Clontarf’s innings never really got going, Merrion’s spin attack causing the most trouble with skipper Celeste Raack striking four times (4-0-11-4). Morrissey went for 25 in her four overs, taking three wickets. The other wicket-takers were Niamh MacNulty (4-0-24-1), Leah Paul (4-1-20-1) and Sibha Bhoja (0.2-0-1-1). Player of the match was Stokell for her knock of 70 as well as her four dismissals behind the stumps – three catches and a stumping.

The 79-run victory saw Merrion through to the second edition of the Clear Currency All-Ireland Women’s T20 Cup which will take place later in August against the winner of the semi-final between Foxlodge and CSNI.

Later in the week, the Women’s 1st XI took on Sprint Coatings Division 1 leaders YMCA at home. Batting first, Merrion put a huge total on the board anticipating a Gaby Lewis-onslaught in the second innings. The third wicket partnership of 120 between Cecelia Joyce and the returning Rachel Delaney was particularly impressive, Delaney carrying her bat scoring 85 from just 46 deliveries. Joyce hit particularly well straight down the ground, just missing out on her half century with 48 from 31 balls. Merrion finished on 197/4 from their 20 overs.

Then there was disappointment for the independent observer as Lewis was counted out with a niggle. YMCA lost their last wicket in the 17th over with the dismissals spread around. The Merrion bowlers conceded just 90 in defence of their total with one wicket each for Morrissey, Paul, and Delaney. Raack took two wickets while Hannah de Burgh Whyte bowled an extremely tight spell, taking three wickets for just one run in her 1.5 overs. Two YMCA players did not bat with injuries.

With three games left in the competition, Merrion move into the lead. They do, however, have a dangerous Pembroke side to get past in the next round, as well as holders Leinster in the penultimate round.

Finally, Merrion are also top of their side of the table in the Pilkington Plate (40-over competition) with one game yet to play. That takes place at home on August 14th against Malahide. Victory would send the Anglesea Road team through to the final on September 11th.