Pembroke beat Merrion to put themselves in prime position to leapfrog The Hills and join the Anglesea Road side in next week's final.

In the Championship, Balbriggan defeated North Kildare in their final dress rehearsal.

Merrion, 145/10 lost to Pembroke 146/7 by 3 wickets

This was a disappointingly lacklustre performance by an apparently uninterested Merrion for whom only three batters raised their game enough to scale the heights of double figures.

John Anderson (56), who has never been known to submit easily, top-scored, with only Sean Stanton (18) and Hugh Kennedy (11*) attempting to put up any resistance to Pembroke’s attack.

It is quite remarkable that the second highest number on the Merrion score card was the 28 extras conceded by their opponents.

The Pembroke attack was led by Joe Prendergast, 3-21, while Paul Lawson and Scott Ruttle each took 2-19 and Ryan Hopkins 2-35.

It’s possible that this Merrion collapse, for that’s what it seemed to be, was brought about by an element of complacency due to their already having qualified for the Grand Final but it was still a disappointing display from a previously unbeatable side.

Pembroke’s reply was similarly hit-and-miss as just five of their batsmen could break that ten-run barrier.

The difference, however, was provided by the indomitable Theo Lawson (83*) as the ‘broke overhauled their hosts in the 50th over.

For Merrion, Jack Carty and Amish Sidhu each took 2-28, and Tom Stanton and Daniel Forkin a wicket each.

Pembroke, who have a match in hand against YMCA on Monday evening appear to be holding the nap hand to advance to the Grand Final on their home patch next Saturday.

However, depending on the allocation of bonus points and the result of that 20 over refix on Monday there’s an extremely slim possibility that The Hills might have done enough to sneak past them.

The Hills 132/4 beat Clontarf 131/10 by 6 wickets

Clontarf chose to bat in what might yet prove to be a de facto semi-final at The Vineyard. A fired-up seam attack by Tomás Rooney Murphy, 2-25, and Dylan Blignaut, 2-26, saw ‘tarf reduced to 4/38 in the 11th over.

David Delany (39) and Fionn Hand (38) slowed the momentum but the dismissal of Delany in the 39th over presaged the early end of the Clontarf innings as spinners Jonathan Tall, 4-15, and Sameer Dutt 2-33, mopped up the tail. The Clontarf innings closed on 131, all out in the 46th over.

The Hills response got off to a wobbly start as Murray Commins’ streak of match-winning knocks was brought to a close when he was caught by Andrew Vincent off the bowling of David Delany for a duck. Bhavesh Lakhotia (2) took the walk up the hill in the 4th over and the home side were down 2 for 9.

Cormac McLoughlin Gavin (35) and Mark Donegan (15) steadied the ship but it was the arrival of Dylan Blignaut (59*) including 9 fours and one maximum, and Andrew Kavanagh (17*) that brought The Hills home in the 38th over.

Phoenix 229/9 beat Leinster 169/10 by 60 runs.

This was a match of real consequence played at Observatory Lane between the two winless teams in the Premier. A pleasant change for Phoenix was the prospect of playing with an almost full deck, only George Dockrell, away on national service, was absent.

Batting first, no fewer than nine of the Phoenix batsmen got double numbers; Jamie Grassi (56) and Aaron Cawley (38) leading the way to the total of 229.

Yet again it was Joey Carroll, 3-33, who bowled best for the Rathmines side, assisted by Aviral Shukla, 3-45, Mark Tonge 2-32, and Bilal Azhar 1-36.

A lack of consistency with the bat proved to be Leinster’s downfall as Saqib Bahadur (59) top-scored. Bilal Azhar (25) and 18 each for Jack Salter and Andrew were added to by Rian Cassidy (14) and Mark Tonge (11) but Leinster ran out of steam in the 38th over.

Aaron Cawley’s five for 16 led the destruction for the Firebirds, Conor Sheil 2-38, with one each for Stephen Moreton and Theo Dempsey. This result sees Leinster relegated to the Championship.

The other Premier match was between YMCA, 233/7 and Malahide 172/10, at The Village.

These sides, sitting mid-table, were really only playing for pride but Mitchell Thompson (104), Jack Tector (60) and Tom Anders (43) didn’t appear to take that view. It was just as well really, because their next highest score, apart from 15 extras, was five.

David O’Halloran took 4-33, Matt Ford 2-26 and James Newland 1-41 for the Villagers.

Alan Reynolds (68), Timcy Khanduja (16), Matt Ford (19), and Finto McAlister (20) didn’t get sufficient help as the YM attack took no prisoners; Sam Streek, 5-34, Rory Anders, 2-27, and James Forbes 1-36 together with a couple of run-outs did the damage.

As we said above, YMCA have yet to play Pembroke on Monday in a 20 over refix which could well have a significant effect on the standings at the top of the log.

The Leinster Championship North County 234/6 beat Cork County 168/10 by 60 runs

A mid-table clash of no tangible consequence at The Inch saw North County bat first and Andrew Sheridan (56), Sean Sludds (44), John Mooney (37), John Devane (27) and Jono Andrews (25) formed the backbone of a very competitive score.

For Cork, Siddarth Joshi, 2-36 and Rudolph Pollard 2-43, were the pick of the bowlers.

The Cork reply was built around Ross Durity (55), Sunil Gautam (21) and Pollard (19) but without further back-up the innings ended in the 47th over, 61 runs short of the target.

Sean Sludds 5-31, and Eddie Richardson 3-27, were the destroyers in chief.

The big one  was played at The Maws between North Kildare 154 and Balbriggan 222 

These sides were in contention to contest the Championship Grand Final and today’s Balbriggan, 222/5 beat North Kildare 154/10 results haven’t changed that situation, so in effect, this was a dress rehearsal for that final.

Balbriggan batted first and their top order amassed 186 runs; Farooq Nasr (69*), leading the way with Greg Ford (52), Connor Fletcher (34), and Ghanim Dara (31) adding their bit. That was the foundation.

Nathan Rooney (16) and Chris de Freitas (9) built a few more courses and the ‘brigg finished on 222/5. Imran Ul Haq, 2-27, and Wasif Ali 2-37, were the best for North Kildare.

Only two of the Kildare men got starts, Waqar Azmat (46) and Muzamil Sherzad (27) but that was as good as it got and North Kildare ran out of juice in the 46th over, all out for 154.

Rush 251/7, beat County Galway 250/8 by 3 wickets

These well-travelled Galwaymen won the toss and chose to bat. Opener Shariq Nasdim (45) got off to an encouraging start in the tight and tidy surroundings at Kenure, Subramanya Ramnathpur (39), Ramgokul Srinivasan (49) and Khizan Mehmood (32*) kept the pot boiling to the end setting Rush a decent target to shoot for.

Asher Abassi 3-48 and Nathan McGuire3-49, were the best of the Rush bowlers.

A solid, if unspectacular, team effort led by Saadat Gull (58) and Jarred Barnes (51*) including 3 fours and 4 sixes, saw the home side across the line with an over to spare.

Prishanth Viswanath 2-41, and Ramnathpur 2-49 were the top bowlers for County Galway.

County Galway meet Balbriggan in the final match of this league on Sunday.