The penultimate, 23rd week of Munster’s biggest domestic programme saw the final two competitions decided, but with the final week and six more matches of the scheduled 380 across all formats and levels, still to play.
What is clear as we head towards the close is that it has been a pretty good season weather wise with just 10% of matches lost and the decision to expand the competition base, supported by an increase of 15% players registered with the Union.
As forecast last week, Sunday was billed as the likely Premier decision day with the title still able to go three ways, with Harlequins having one hand on the trophy. In the end it was always going to come down to if the Quins could hold their nerve in the two back to back games.
A rare Premier Saturday, and Midleton hosted Harlequins in what was never likely to be a free scoring game with what was at stake. The home side batted first and ground out 134 off 40.2 overs. Four players made starts but no one took the game and title hopes away from Quins, Jose George top scoring with 34.
The bowlers similarly never totally got on top excepting a fine spell of 2/6 from Adam Hickey. In reply Harlequins looked determined to bank the points, running down the target in 33.4 overs for the loss of 3 wkts. The key innings partnership of 78 from Brandon Kruger 59no & Shivam Kislay 27no. The result of a win & 4 bonus points framing the next day nicely.
Sunday, two games & 3 title outcomes. County hosted Kerry, Quins hosted Limerick, both games played on green end of season wickets.
At the Mardyke both teams had the advantage of a game in hand on the leaders but Quins townparks victory with 24 points had ruled out the loser of this game any hope. Both teams also kept an eye on NVplay & the Munster youtube live stream for a glimmer of a quins loss. Cork County batted first and in the pattern of the day ground out a defendable 164 off 45.2 overs, Abdul Ghaffar top scoring with 41, supported by Benji Marris 26. For Kerry, Yaqoob Ali with 5/15 off 9.2 overs. The innings break and County knew they had a score to defend, Kerry a battle, with matters up at Farmers cross pretty much the same, all three contenders still with hopes alive.
Harlequins batted first making 172 off 40.5 overs with Brandon Kruger 35, Devon Joyce 34 & Kieran O’Rielly 26 providing the bulk of the runs. For Limerick Sarfraz Ramay 4/34. So to the second innings in both games. County piled on the bowling pressure & Kerry were unable to get close in challenging conditions, battling to 99 all out off 36.3 overs, Qassim Mohammad 25 & Imran Pathan 24 the best of the batters, Nabeel Anjum 3/24 the best of the bowlers. However, up at Farmers it was already decided.
Harlequins set out with purpose, taking regular wickets to close out the game in the 38th over, Limerick all out for 107, Mosawer Sidiqi top scoring with 23. Kieran O’Rielly taking 4/9 to cap a good day as player and excellent season as captain.
So the title goes to Cork Harlequins who complete the treble of League, Cup & T20, with the AIT20 final to round off a successful season.
The Premier is not quite finished for 2022. The final Sunday will see two games to close out the season. Midleton host 2nd placed Cork County & 3rd placed Kerry, host Galway who will be making the long trip down the west coast to the Oyster Oval.
With the title already decided the two games on offer were all about the runner up league positions, with Nenagh 1st’s having games in hand, looking to climb up three places to 3rd spot.
On Saturday they hosted champions elect Cork County 2nds at Ballyeighan. A high scoring competitive game had County 234/7 run out winners by 56 runs over Nenagh, finishing off a commanding campaign for the Elvery Cup.
Sunday, and Nenagh hosted again, this time Blasters 1st’s. The home side in another high scoring game made 257 to beat Blasters 164/9 by 93 runs.
So the final round of games this coming Saturday will see Nenagh host their third game in a fortnight against Midleton 2nds and Blasters finish off their first season at Crokers Oval, fittingly against local rivals Limerick 2nds. A win for Nenagh will close out 3rd spot.
There was one game to report in Division 2. Midleton 3rds hosted Kerry 3rds at Townparks on Sunday. A close competitive game saw the visitors Kerry 196/7 beat Midleton 195ao by 3 wickets to finish off a disappointing campaign for teams.
The final act of the division for 2022, will be on Sunday, when County 3rds host Clonmel 1st’s at the Richard Beamish Grounds.
To the most competitive league in Munster, where a close finish was on the cards with the title going to the final Saturday. In the end matters were decided a weekend earlier than expected.
Two matches, at Adare Lismore 1st’s visited Limerick 4ths and in Cork, County 4ths hosted Harlequins 4ths.
To Adare. Lismore batting first finished their season on a high scoring 234ao to beat Limerick by 193 runs in a one sided affair.
In the Mardyke, another one sided game saw the hosts dismiss Quins for 46 to win by 8 wickets. The result was all they needed to confirm top spot with a game to go, so Cork County 4ths are Division 3 Champions 2022.
The league is not finished yet with two more games this coming Saturday. County host Clare in the Mardyke & Quins Limerick at Farmers Cross.
As reported, the division is all done and Limerick Blasters 3rds in their first season at Crokers Oval take the first Championship title of the new Munster 5th tier.
Munster Youth Competitions
The final domestic youth U13 & 15 competition tables are being tabulated, with a detailed review to follow.
On Sunday 18th Cork County U15 took on Phoenix CC Colts for a place in the All Ireland Final, sadly losing to a largely more experienced side, but proudly flying the flag for Munster.