As the sun shines and the state school examination period begins, cricket fixtures are coming hard and fast. It is a busy time for everyone, players, administrators, grounds-men and everyone linked with cricket, especially Pembroke cricket. Due to changes in starring regulations, examinations, holidays and a number of players unable or unwilling to take to the field of play, there are difficulties in fielding some teams and some teams are taking to play with under-strength teams. We, as a Club, need to encourage players out onto the pitch at all levels.

It was great to see another Pembroke youth making his senior debut at the weekend. Ethan Clarke appeared for the Sixth XI in their league game versus Adamstown alongside such Pembroke legends as Ed Dwyer, Brian Bannigan and Kevin Ryan. It could be the start of a long Pembroke career!

Sean Smith has the unenviable task of arranging the Open Competition starring list for Pembroke and has to field all of the queries and fill all of the gaps. If you are available to play, do let Sean know and he will get you onto a pitch very quickly.

Nets should be busy now with Daniel Solway offering his wisdom, especially on Wednesday nights. So whilst the sun shines, get yourself down to nets and improve your game. Daniel is setting standards in his performances for the First XI and you would be wise to take the chance to learn from a class batsman.

Last Monday the Thirds fell to Sandyford in a YM Salver T20 cup game. Sadly the Sixes game versus AIB in the Russell Court Trophy was called off as a team couldn’t be fielded.

Tuesday the First XI lost to Merrion Firsts in an Alan Murray T20 group game. It would be unlikely that they would now qualify from their group for the knock-out stages.

Wednesday’s Women’s Third XI game versus Leinster was another game cancelled and one hopes that once the examinations are done and the school holidays begin that playing numbers will improve.

Thursday saw the Women’s First XI trounce Ciara Metcalfe’s new team, The Hills. Bowling first Pembroke knocked The Hills over for a paltry 15 runs: 8 from the bat, 6 wides and 1 leg bye. It didn’t make for a classic game, but it did mean I could balance the book easily enough. The Hills were unfortunate in coming up against a rampant Kim Garth who took 4 for 4 and was ably supported by Louise McCarthy who took 2 for 5. Skipper Shauna Kavanagh sent Orla Prendergast and Cliona Tucker out to open and knock off the required runs without loss.

Friday night saw the Women’s Second XI take on Malahide in the Junior Cup in Sydney Parade, a repeat of last year’s final. Captain Cathy Murphy again led from the front, ably supported by Emer Ryan, as Pembroke chased down their target. Cathy even called a run short on herself when the umpire missed it. The women played exceptionally well with Hannah Little excelling with the ball and was part of a bowling attack that saw Barbara Musgrave take 4/11. The Women now progress to the semi-finals of the Junior Cup.

Saturday saw the Firsts go to Castle Avenue and triumph over Clontarf to hit the top of Division 1. This is the first time in 12 years that Pembroke have sat upon the summit of Leinster league cricket and now the hard work starts as they try to remain there.

Saturday also saw the Thirds, at home, falling to Leinster in a Division 5 game, whilst Sunday saw four team defeats.

The Seconds couldn’t repeat the victory of the Firsts the day before in Castle Avenue and exited the Senior 2 Cup with Clontarf Seconds advancing to the next round.

In Shaw’s Bridge, our First XI were superbly hosted by Instonians in the second round of the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup. After overnight rain the wicket was a little slow to begin with but improved throughout the day. We lost the toss and unsurprisingly were put into bat. Despite Daniel’s efforts in compiling 91 the total crept rather than rushed up. The lower order did well with Ben Hoey getting a quick 30 odd, Captain Paul Lawson added 20 odd and the total was dragged up to 246/9 from 50 overs. However with the improvement in the wicket the Instonians batmen went about their business without distraction and although Pembroke did manage to take a few wickets, the target was reached. If Pembroke had batted second I feel they could have chased down any total Instonians could have posted. On such small things do games depend.

In Sydney Parade both the Fourths and the Sixes both failed to record a win. The Fourths lost to Bagenalstown and the Sixes lost to Adamstown. The real triumph for the Sixes was getting a team out at all. Kevin Ryan and Conor Prendergast both scored 37 with Conrad Jones reaching 39 as the Sixes made 198 in their 40 overs. Despite Louise McCarthy taking a wicket in her first over, Adamstown only took 19 overs to chase down their target.

Still it could all have been worse. Playing in the National Cup, Rush’s Stephen Doheny scored 259 as Rush racked up 569 in 50 overs. Now that is a lot of chasing leather, or rather looking for leather. Stephen’s innings fell one short of the Irish Senior Cup individual score record of 260 by Decker Curry, but did top Robin Kelly’s 219 in Rush a few years ago.

This week looks like another busy one with hopefully everyone keen to make the most of the sunshine and heat that seems to be with us for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday evening sees the Second XI heading out to North County for a 6pm start and another Tillian group game, whilst the Women’s Seconds will be out in Clontarf in a Division 2 game.

Wednesday sees more evening cricket with Stephen Moore taking his 5th XI to Marley Park to take on Sandyford in a Whelan Cup game, whilst the Women’s Thirds are scheduled to welcome Phoenix to Sydney Parade in a league game.

Thursday Shauna and the Women’s First XI go to Malahide to take on Mary Waldron and the rest of the Village.

No games on Friday means that we should all head into the Bank Holiday weekend refreshed and ready for a full weekend. Four teams are scheduled to be in action this weekend. The First XI will host Merrion as they attempt to remain at the top of Division 1 and gain a measure of revenge for defeat in the Alan Murray to the same team.

The Fifth XI will be heading off to the delights of Bird Avenue to take on Merrion 6’s. The newish clubhouse is a vast improvement on the previous incarnation, and one hopes that Merrion will bring the tea this year, unlike last season when the Pembroke team had to travel to Anglesea Road to collect the tea. Personally I will not be playing here as I am heading off with great delight to Headfort School to make my debut for the Leprechauns against a touring side from New Zealand.

Saturday night then sees the first major Club social function with the Women hosting a summer extravaganza. If you have not as yet got your tickets then speak to Louise McCarthy and make sure you support the function and support your Club, especially at the bar.

Sunday, Stephen Willis will be hoping that not too many of his team have enjoyed Saturday’s function too much and that they are bright eyes and bushy tailed for their Middle 2 Cup game versus Adamstown.

The Bank Holiday will see the Fifths playing at home in their second game of the weekend, third game of the week and as part of the six games in 12 days run that they have facing them. Sunday’s game is a Division 11 return fixture against Clondalkin. Clondalkin are newcomers to the league as a club, although most of their members have come from other existing teams and beat the Fifths earlier in the month on their patch in Tymon Park. Pembroke will be keen to overturn that result at home.

Now, let the sunshine warm your bones, the cricket warm your heart and the bar, well, let the bar do what it does best.