Having come agonizingly close by finishing runners’ up in both 2017 and 2018, it was third time lucky for Limerick who graced another victorious day at the Mardyke winning the Junior t20 blast competition winning by just 4 runs against Cork Harlequins on Saturday.
Limerick had to make the early journey down to Leeside as their first semi-final started at 10 am, a crunch semi-final against home side Cork County. Captaining in his first finals day, Limerick skipper Mohamed Gouse won the toss and elected to put the home side into field.
Limerick started strong again in the opening exchanges, a habit that was becoming omnipresent for the Shannonsiders in recent games. Senior players were leading by example as Usman Khan, Shani Alam and Sarfraz Ramay put the away side on the front foot with scores of 21, 25 and 30 respectively. County were able to put the squeeze on Limerick in the middle of the innings to minimize their run rate until all-rounder Mohammed Shifan came to the crease and punished some poor County bowling to push Limerick to a very respectable total of 150-9 at the end of their 20 overs; Shifan’s cameo of 29 runs at the end of the innings proving crucial to Limerick’s tally.
Spin was the key for Limerick in their destruction of the County order, returning all-rounder Abhishek Ramanujan would take the big wicket of Zuhair Shah before Sarfraz Ramay was taking no prisoners from County’s middle order-he picked off Anjum, Sah and Jeffers in quick timing to leave County strangled and short of a lifeline. Limerick were able to take 4 wickets using spin as County finally finished on 138-7, Limerick coming out eventual winners by 12 runs.
The stage was set at 5 o’clock for the final between Limerick and the other semi-final victors Cork Harlequins after they made light work of County Kerry. Limerick gain batted first and were enlightened by two half-centuries from Usman Khan (55) and Shani Alam (54), their massive stand set a great foundation for Limerick to build on, they would see themselves finish on a respectable total of 138-6.
There was no surprise when Asif Shahab was in the wickets again for Limerick, he dusted off with excellent figures of 2-20 from his 4 overs which proved to be a match-winning spell. Sarfraz Ramay soon followed his buddy in with two wickets of his own. He tightened things up again in the middle to give the opposition very little opportunity to accelerate their innings into higher gears. He would finish with figures of 2-22, a vital contribution to his side’s effort with the ball. With 4 runs needed off the last ball, Ramay was able to drift one outside the off stump to leave the batsman in complete confusion.
A dot ball would be the end result and Limerick would finish champions.
It wasn’t to be for Limerick 4th XI who would come up short in their t20 final against Waterford District on Saturday; after beating Lismore comprehensively in their semifinal, Limerick were possibly 20 runs short of a feasible target in the final as Waterford chased down the total with just 7 balls to spare. Abdul Baqi Khan, however, would put his name on the club’s Honour’s Board with an impressive 5 wicket haul against Lismore with figures of 5-14.
Next weekend is sure to be a big match in Adare when Limerick play host to arch-rivals Limerick City in Adare in what is sure to be pivotal and much-anticipated affair on Sunday in the Munster
There is also action in Adare on Saturday as Mohammed Gouse’s victorious second team will take on Cork Harlequins again this time in their Junior League tie.