Friday, 24 May 2013

'Feels like a loss' - Kevin O'Brien

With the visit of Pakistan to Irish shores for another highly anticipated series the excitement level was huge. Some might have been worried about weather disruption, however, for once the rain god's kept the weather relatively under control. Despite some showers during the first innings, the weather did level out and become quite reasonable and dry from 1.30 local time. Despite the conditions overhead they wanted to bat first, so after they won the toss they did just that.

With a tremendous century by their captain, Pakistan were able to post 266/5, however D/Lewis gave their total a slight tweak, leaving Ireland chasing 276 to win from 47 overs.

In reply Ireland found their own centurion when Stirling hit his own splendid century, he was aided by Ed Joyce in a solid partnership before he fell. Leaving Kevin O'Brien to provide some needed fireworks, when he scored a fluent 84(47)*. Despite Ireland scoring 275, and more runs in their allotted 47 overs, it wasn't enough due to D/Lewis. The match ended in a tie, which many Irish fans would have snapped if given the chance before the start of play. However, having seen the Irish batting performance, and considering the position they had got themselves to, perhaps it felt quite strange not to have won the game.

Even Kevin O'Brien, one of the heroes of the day was quite distraught at the result.

"It feels like a loss as we came so close, but just couldn't get over the line," O'Brien said. "If I had left [Saeed] Ajmal's delivery, it could have been a wide, but that is hindsight. You are in the moment and you just swing a bat on it. We are not out to tie games, and that is why it feels like a loss, to be honest.

It shows how far Ireland have come that chasing 276 to win, against one of the world's best cricket sides and the match ending in a tie, and the Irish captain feeling they had lost the game. In the 2007 World Cup Ireland also tied against Zimbabwe and the side was quite ectastic about the result, in only 6 years time the side's hopes have become so big that a tie today is seen as an opportunity lost.

With fifteen to win from the last, and the world's No. 1 bowler set to bowl it, even the most optimistic Irish fans found reason to worry. Especially when the first three balls only went for two runs, however the fourth ball was a towering six which beat the man at long on. Which Kevin followed by hitting two more runs of the fifth delivery, leaving six to win from the last. Although he could only manage a flick down to deep backward square for four.

The return game of this ODI series starts on Sunday in the same venue, I'm lost for words when it comes to thinking of how the two sides can eclipse the first ODI for entertainment.

With everything to gain and nothing to lose, Ireland will go into the 2nd ODI full of confidence that they can take on the world's top players and come out on top. Gone are the days that associate would lay down and die out of fear of the big boys coming to town. Not this Ireland, they show the Irish fighting spirit more than any other Irish sporting side has done. Their team togetherness and bond makes up their financial differences they face from the full member sides.

Monday, 10 September 2012

The start of the T20 World Cup is nearing. 

The first team to arrive in Sri Lanka is the small plucky, charisma filled side of Ireland. Ireland's past success was no fluke, whilst this team will attempt to prove it once again.

While Ireland has lost it's surprise factor, Ireland still possess more tricks up their sleeves. With many things having happened, since those warm days in the Caribbean in 2007. What was a bunch of mostly amateurs, except one playing a professional game. Now it's a team consisting of all professionals, except one amateur in no fear of the world's best.

Cricket Ireland has spent many hours and funds, in growing the game in Ireland. Increasing the numbers who participate in Ireland dramatically. With more clubs opening now then ever before. Ireland has very talented players coming through at all levels.

With the likes of Jack Tector, Tyrone Kane, Ryan Hunter, Stuart Thompson, Andrew Balbirnie, Ben Ackland just some of the promising cricketers coming out of Ireland in recent years.

Then recently, Leinster Under 13's claimed their first ever trophy. When they were victorious at the Taunton Festival.

Then throw George Dockrell and Paul Stirling into the mix. All of this bodes very well for Irish cricket in the future.

So much is expected of this Ireland side, going into the T20 World Cup. As I mentioned earlier, the surprise factor is lost. However what was lost, has been made up with vastly improved skill levels.

Ireland have one of the most destructive batsmen out there in Paul Stirling. They also have the hero of the last World Cup in Kevin O'Brien. They have one of the most promising spinners in world cricket in George Dockrell.

Add those players to a potential side, which includes Ireland's veteran Trent Johnston. The colossus of Boyd Rankin with his speed and height. The solid middle order pair of Niall O'Brien and Gary Wilson. The very dependable and talented Ed Joyce.

Ireland's task ahead of them isn't an easy one. They face the hardened Australia and the spiritful West Indies.

Ireland will have to cope with the likes of Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, David Warner, Shane Watson, Pat Cummins, Sunil Narine. Most of these sides have bucket loads of T20 experience, playing against the best in the world. Ireland will need to withstand the pressure of the occasion upon them.

Ireland has to be firing on all cylinders to qualify. However Ireland's ambition is so great, they have gone out and hired Craig McDermott as their bowling coach. While also spending many hours with their baseball based fielding coach Will Lintern. Will Lintern skills were pivotal in Ireland's fielding success at the 2011 world cup.

While they didn't have the best of preparations at home, when South Africa A pulled out of the T20 series in Ireland.

This was helped when they announced two extra T20 games in Sri Lanka to prepare. This is arguably the most prepared Irish cricketing side to leave Ireland.

Ireland are capable of beating both of these sides. They will aim to do exactly that, as they continue to meet the lofty goals they set themselves.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

T20 World Cup - Ireland Preview

Ireland the side who's done so well in all their appearances on the big stage. Many people will expect another Test scalp when they take the field in Colombo, Sri Lanka. However with fewer matches, two only in the group stages.  This will be more difficult, however Ireland are fastly becoming a side capable of beating anyone.

Ireland has players who are becoming big names in the world of cricket. With a lot of pressure on Kevin O'Brien to repeat, or to come close to his heroics in Bangalore. When he smashed a century from only fifty balls. He went onto score a 44-ball century for his side Gloucestershire. To post the highest total in domestic T20 cricket, Ireland will be hopeful of more of this to come.

While his brother Niall(wk) who is back in the side as a specialist batsman. He will also have a chance to fight the gloves back from Ireland's newest keeper. Gary Wilson(wk) will be the more unknown of the players. He was one of the main heroes during the qualifiers to get Ireland to the world cup. He scored 238 runs, with an average of 39.66 at a strike rate of 115.53.

Although Ireland's trump card is with a young 21-year old batsman called Paul Stirling. He provides a real power house at the top of the order. He will not hold anything back, while he is also a very capable spinner. Which will come very handy in the conditions he will face. He scored 357 runs in the qualifiers, at an average of 44.62 with a blistering strike rate of 157.26. While also picking up 9 wickets at an average of 18.55, with an economy of 5.56 at a strike rate of 20.0

Ireland's trump card with the ball, will come from the young 20 year old spinner George Dockrell.
His record for bowling in T20is is quite brilliant. Especially during the qualifiers, picking up 13 wickets. With an average of 16.46 and an economy of 6.14, at a strike rate of only 16. Whilst these conditions will come to his liking. Expect Ireland to challenge, should his name come appear in the wickets column.
Now with Boyd Rankin setting his aim for Test cricket with England. This will be likely his last outing in a world cup environment with Ireland. However being the professional he is, we expect Boyd will put his best foot forward.

Whilst the wickets in Colombo won't favour Rankin much. His 6ft'7  frame and his pace will still be likely to cause a lot of batsman considerable trouble. He often was inconsistent for Ireland, however it appears he's turned a corner. During the qualifiers he picked up 15 wickets. With an average of only 11.06, with an economy as little as 4.25 at a strike rate of 15.6.

While the last player I will have a look at is Ireland's veteran Trent Johnston. This is very likely to be his last appearance at a world cup for Ireland. Although it's for very different reasons then Rankin. Johnston is due to retire shortly after the world cup. Although he has shown signs of staying till the end of the 2015 world cup qualifiers.
Johnston picked up 13 wickets himself with an economy of 5.91 at an average of 16.84. Johnston is very measly with the runs he concedes. His bowling is tight and he won't give anything up without a fight for it. His change of pace and varieties will be vital in conditions that will demand it.

Ireland is a side that has become known for it's fighting spirit, it's grit and determination to the very end. Ireland's fielding is among the best in the world, if not the best fielding in the world. Ireland's main problem is their weakness against spin. While they posess a few players who are talented players of spin, it will fall upon those to hold the side together.

Ireland face Australia and the West Indies, neither side that will succumb to Ireland easily. However Ireland needn't fear them, they have the capabilites to beat both sides.
With Ireland to face the spin threats of Narine and Hogg. While also facing the awesome arsenal of Gayle, Warner, Bravo to name a few.

Ireland doesn't fear anyone, if they can overcome one of these sides then they open endless possibilities.
Ireland's side is a good mix of aggression mixed with a dose of calmness. Plenty of medium pace bowlers with one particular aggressor. While it also holds tricky, plucky spin options.

Likely Ireland XI
William Portefield(c)
Paul Stirling

Ed Joyce
Niall O'Brien
Gary Wilson
Kevin O'Brien
Stuart Thompson

Tim Murtagh
Trent Johnston
Boyd Rankin
George Dockrell

Monday, 6 August 2012

2011 Cricket World Cup - Can Lightning Strike Twice?

2011 Cricket World Cup - 

While all the talk of associate teams bringing the level of cricket down. With many so called experts claiming they were ruining the game of cricket. With some feeling they weren't needed and they should stick to the full members. Which in itself is quite ludicrous as the full members already had the Champions Trophy. A competition which was for all the full members.

So with the possibility at the time of the next 50 over World Cup, having only the ten full member nations. It was vital that the associates put on a good showing. While not much was realistically expected from Kenya and Canada. The real possibility of a shock was to come from giant killers Ireland. With all notable mention going towards the Netherlands.

First up for Ireland was their most likely targeted team for an upset. They were to face Bangladesh and having deciding to bat first, they got away to quite a flyer. With both Irish opening bowlers being dispatched around the ground. Then they were to soon realise pace off the ball was key here.

With Niall O'Brien creating a piece of magic behind the stumps to stump Kayes. While they were to continue losing many wickets. With the next one falling due to some very shoddy running. When Ed Joyce ran Siddique out. Who would only be followed by Iqbal a few overs later. With Botha removing the huge wicket of Iqbal, after Porterfield completed the rest.

While Porterfield did drop Shakib Al Hasan, he would soon be let off the hook. When Botha completed a very nice caught and bowled, to leave the home crowd stunned. Then Dockrell was brought back and he had Rahim sweeping, which resulted in a top-edge to White.

While Bangladesh never got anything going after that. With lots of crafty bowling by Ireland's two veterans, joined by Dockrell and Rankin. Left Bangladesh all out for 205. Giving Ireland a total of 206 for victory.
Things wouldn't be made too easy for Ireland either. Although Stirling was given a lifeline early on, he wouldn't make full use of it. As he was just about stumped inside the 6th over.

With the pressure appearing to get to Ireland, as next to go was the captain Porterfield. Niall O'Brien and Ed Joyce put on a decent partnership but Joyce would fall. Getting the leading edge from Ashraful who completed the caught and bowled. He would then remove White,  leaving Ireland in all sorts of trouble.

While it might have been expected of the O'Brien brothers to see the side home. Niall O'Brien chipping down the ground, which Iqbal caught quite brilliantly inches off the turf.

Then Kevin O'Brien smacked a six, then in the next over. Botha was able to find the boundary before Kevin hit consecutive fours. As it appeared Ireland were in the driving seat again. However with 55 runs needed, Bangladesh struck the killer blow. Trying to clear the ropes Kevin pulled one down the throat of Shuvo.

With Mooney, Botha and Johnston removed within a short space of time, it ended Ireland's chances in the game. With the wicket of Rankin sealing the victory for Bangladesh by 27 runs.

With Ireland bringing themselves very close to victory, then to lose it so narrowly. It wasn't going to make the calls for the cull of the associates any quieter. While next up for Ireland was their bitter rivals England. With most people believing the chance for victory and qualification, was down to beating Bangladesh.

However with that loss happening, it didn't leave much hope for the rest of the tournament.

England having won the toss, decided to have a bat first.

While Pietersen and Strauss made light work of the opening overs. With neither batsmen in particular trouble. While it took 81 balls for the first wicket to fall. Dockrell bowling the birthday boy Strauss for 34 on his 34th birthday.

While Trott then hit Mooney with distain for consecutive boundaries, before Pietersen then launched him for six.
Then of all the ways Pietersen would likely be dismissed. He went for the reverse-dab against Stirling. However it only resulted in the top edge to Niall behind the stumps.

While Bell and Trott painfully piled the misery and the runs on Ireland. In a partnership worth 166, it was broken by Mooney. With Stirling taking a stunning catch, low to his right at midwicket to dismiss Bell.

Trott would then fall to a most unglamorous and uncharacteristic shot, trying to stand and deliver. Instead Mooney had his off stump knocked over. Then Johnston had Prior removed with the stumps once again disturbed!

While Collingwood did find the big six, he was then removed by Mooney. Caught well by Kevin at mid-on. Johnston would reach a nice milestone, bowling Yardy for his 50th ODI wicket.

With the last wicket to fall to Mooney, removing Bresnan on the last ball of the innings.

Could Ireland chase down the target of 328!

''Ireland have proudly carried the associates' standard for two World Cups in succession. They're not asking for free lunches, just for a fair chance''

Dileep Premachandran

"I have one brother on the team, but 13 more wearing green here in India," said Niall O'Brien.

"We'd die for each other," said John Mooney. "These are my blood brothers."

To be continued...

Friday, 13 July 2012

We don't like cricket, we love it!

Ireland had qualified for the 2007 World Cup:

Having being placed in a group with the West Indies, Zimbabwe and arguably the favourite's to win the tournament in Pakistan. Not much was expected of the Irish side. This wasn't going to be the case for this Associate side. While also having to facing the difficult sides they were to face, this was also Ireland's debut in the World Cup,

As Ireland's first game came against Zimbabwe, whilst being sent into bat first. The nerves were on show for Ireland as wickets were falling in regular intervals. However Jeremy Bray showed a strong hand when he produced a stunning 115(139), which gave Ireland a competitive 221/9

With Zimbabwe seeming in cruise control at 128/3, they were to lose a vital wicket of opener Sibanda. Which appeared to cause some worry in their ranks, as they then managed to lose 6 more wickets for only 93 runs. Which left them all out for 221 and Ireland somehow managed to tie the game.

Despite that marvellous result, Ireland still needed to overcome Pakistan. Whilst many of you who believe in superstition would have thought Ireland were destined to win. While the neutrals, experts and most likely Pakistan thought the result was a formality.

Having won the toss on a green wicket, whilst playing the game on St.Patrick's Day and sending a side wearing green into bat first. Some might feel this just might have been Ireland's day.

Ireland had given even the most pessimistic and skeptic of fans, reason to believe and remain positive. As Ireland had first managed to bowl Pakistan out, while restricting them to a paltry 132.

Ireland had begun to show more nerves as many wickets were falling. Although once again Ireland had another hero, this time it was Niall O'Brien(wk). He managed to score 72(106) to hold the innings together. With his brother Kevin seeing the side home, along side Trent Johnston(c).

With that monumental victory it had created arguably the greatest sporting upset of all time.
While all of this was brilliant for Irish cricket, they had now to face another challenge. Having done the impossible and beating Pakistan, they had now qualified for the Super 8's.

With many of the supposed experts having thought Ireland would be found out at this level. Giving Ireland no chance of doing well and saying we didn't deserve our spot in the Super 8's. Ireland had done what every other side had achieved, by gaining the points needed to gain entry to this stage and they warranted their spot. Ireland were prepared to refute their claims.

Despite giving England a shock, having run them close but eventually losing out by 48 runs. Many people felt we were showing reasons why we shouldn't have qualified for this stage.

With some not so close loses to South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Australia. Many other sides, would have dropped their heads and given up. However much about this side is to be admired. They would have another game, this time against Bangladesh.

Ireland won the toss and decided to bat, with this being the performance where it all came together. With gutsy opener Porterfield leading from the front with a strong 85(136). With Kevin O'Brien also adding a vital 48(44) to help propel the Irish total to 243/7

While many would have expected Bangladesh to chase this competitive total down. This wasn't to be the case, as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals. With only two of their batsmen achieving scores in the 30's.

Which resulted in Ireland bowling Bangladesh out for 169, giving Ireland a 74 run victory.

This was quite a performance by the Irish side throughout the World Cup. Where they went into the competition as easy beats, underdogs, also-rans. Nobody expected much from the Irish side, they had expected an early exit from Ireland. However nobody gave that script to Ireland, as they provided their own brand of cricket.

People would admire the passion and grit they would show in their performances. Having competed on the cricket field, with world class fielding. Showing a determination that couldn't be matched by many, if any at all.

This wouldn't be the last of the Irish cricket odyssey, they would continue to compete at all levels.

What was meant to be a few weeks in the Caribbean was nicely summed up by the Captain, Trent Johnston.

''They laughed at me! There I was in Dub Airport, struggling with my luggage... mates were laughing at me because I had 3 bags. 'Just you wait' I told them 'I've packed for 7 weeks not 3!''

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Irish Cricketing History Part 1

Cricket is a long-established sport in Ireland. However due to recent successes in the 2007, 2009 and 2011 World Cups. Cricket in Ireland has enjoyed quite a huge increase in popularity.

Most notable the first victory in 2007, when Ireland stunned the cricketing world. When Ireland was able to defeat one of the favourites for the entire tournament in Pakistan. Having before that, come back from the dead to tie with Zimbabwe. Then showing they weren't just one hit wonders, when they comfortably defeated Bangladesh in the Super 8's.

Then in the 2009 T20 World Cup, they were able to produce another Test scalp when they defeated Bangladesh. Then arguably the biggest upset of all time, when they chased down England's 327 to win by three wickets. With special thanks for Kevin O'Brien, who scored the fastest World Cup century of all time with a century from 50 balls.

Ireland was introduced to cricket in the early 19th century, in the towns of Kilkenny and Ballinasloe. The first national Irish team played in 1855 against the Gentlemen of England, the game was played in Dublin.
The game was developed in Ireland, with most of the work done by the coaching Englishman Charles Lawrence. Ireland was visited for their first time by touring professional sides in the 1850's and 1860's, with it's first match coming against Marylebone Cricket Club(M.C.C) which occurred in 1858.

With the dominance of Kilkenny in the current National Hurling League of Ireland. It could be argued the introduction of Cricket was a strong aid in this development. Hurling is arguably the most popular sport that is currently being played in Ireland. With Gaelic football alongside it, in the popularity stakes.

The game of cricket became increasingly more popular until the 1980's. However through Ireland's aim for independence and it's fight for freedom. The Gaelic Athletic Association enforced a ban of all foreign games in the 1980's. Which only resulted in stunting the growth of cricket in Ireland.

This ban was not lifted until 1970, nearly a century later. Whilst anyone playing foreign games would be banned from the more popular national sports of Hurling and Gaeilic football.

Irish teams still toured Canada and America in the years of 1879, 1888, 1892 and 1909. Even more interesting, Ireland managed to defeat a touring South African side in 1904.

Ireland's first match with first-class status was on the 19th of May 1902, which was contested by a London County side. Which included the legendary W.G. Grace. The Irish team was captained by Sir Tim O'Brien, the Irish side lost quite convincingly by 238 runs.

Tim O'Brien was born in Dublin who played cricket for England in five Test matches. He was a powerful right-handed batsman. During his playing career, he played in 266 first-class matches as an amateur for Oxford University.

He was well known for his hard hitting innings, with his highest score being 202. This came alongside Robert Slade Lucas, they pair put on 338 in only 200 minutes. He also captained Ireland and England, he recorded a top score of 167 against his alma mater. For the country of his birth, during a brief Irish tour of England. This remained an Irish record until 1973.

The Irish Cricket Union had been officially founded in 1923, however it's predecessor had been active since 1890.

However cricket in Ireland never got worldwide popularity untill events that took place in the 2007 World Cup.

The Irish Cricket Association joined the ICC in 1993, which had given Ireland the chance to enter the World Cup Qualification system. However it wasn't until 2007 when Ireland would first qualify for the Cricket World Cup.

Twelves teams competed to qualify for this World Cup from the associate sides.
Bermuda, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Namibia, Netherlands, Oman, Papa New Guinea, Scotland, Uganda, United Arab Emirates and the United States.

Ireland had a comfortable enough time in Group A, finishing in 1st place. While Scotland were the side to finish in first place in Group B.

Which would leave Ireland and Scotland to battle it our for the overall winner. However by Ireland had qualified for the semi-finals on July 7th, which had won them places in the 2007 World Cup. Also granting them official One Day International status from the 1st of January 2006.

Scotland had posted an impressive 324/8 in their innings, which Ireland was unable to chase. Ireland Managed 277/9 from their alloted overs.

However they still had the main prize of qualifying for the biggest prize of all, the 2007 Cricket World Cup.


Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Most Key Members of the Irish Squad for the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka.

Paul Stirling: 

The most dangerous and exciting opener is Paul Stirling. A very strong and clean hitter of the cricket ball, he will leave nothing on the field. He will be more likely to strike a six down the ground first ball, rather than pat the ball towards off.

Most people will know him for scoring the 2nd fastest century of the last World Cup. While others might know him for his blistering play in the T20 WC Qualifiers this year. He scored 357 runs at an average of 44.62 with a hot strikerate of 157.26. While he was also profitable with the ball, picking up 9 wickets at an average of 17.44 with an economy of 5.56 and a strikerate of 20.

There is few boundaries outside of his reach and if he is to get going. Then it will go a long way to helping Ireland claim another Test nation scalp.

Ed Joyce:

Ed Joyce isn't the most attacking of batsmen in the Irish side. However he provides the calming influence to the batting that is needed. He is the anchor to the Irish side, with everyone batting around him. He is a classy left-handed batsman, the Irish Dravid. He will likely leave the big strokes to the O'Briens and the Stirling's of the team. He will rotate the strike and keep on end shut. Often in the past Ireland were succeptibale to collapses. While the introduction of Joyce has helped cease this from happening.

His T20 figures are very good, with a highest score of 78* at an average of 44.25. His strikerate of 99.43 is still quite low, however if he can anchor the role for Ireland. Then anything over 100 should be a sufficient addition to a good score.

Gary Wilson(wk)

Gary is one of the most improved cricketers for Ireland over recent years. Many times he was needed to provide a vital knock during the qualifiers. He had a very successful tournament with 238 runs scored, with a top score of 52* coming at an average of 39.66 with a strike rate of 115.53.

He's an aggressive batsman and clean hitter, he will be one of the most vital batsmen in our T20 squad. He's become very consistent and hopefully for Ireland, he can bring the form he showed in the qualifiers into the World Cup.

Niall O'Brien(wk):

After missing out on the T20 Qualifiers because of his participation in the Bangladesh Premier League.  With his decision to play for the BPL causing him to lose his spot in the side. He will be raring to show the Irish selectors what he can do again. He is comfortably the best player of spin in the Irish side and with the World Cup being held in Sri Lanka. Ireland will need to be on their guard to teams packing their squads with spinners.

He is a very strong hitter of the ball, while he also is a very talented keeper. One of the most underrated keepers in the game of cricket. Ireland will need Niall at his best to help guide their side. Much like he was able to do when he scored the vital knock of 72 vs Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup.

Boyd Rankin:

Boyd Rankin repersents the pace of the Irish side, with all respect to Johnston, Mooney and O'Brien. Rankin is the member of the side likely to bowl near to 90mph. He has improved vastly as a bowler in recent years. With his height and bounce, he will certainly cause trouble to batsmen. His recent figures for the T20 Qualifiers were quite brilliant. He picked up 15 wickets, at an average of 11.06 with an economy of 4.25 at a strikerate of 15.6. His best figures for the tournament were 4-9.

While pace isn't likely to always go too well on the surfaces in Sri Lanka. Rankin is capable of making a name for himself in the upcoming WC.

George Dockrell:

George Dockrell is the surprise package in the Irish bowling attack. He is only 19 years old and is one of the most exciting spinners in world cricket. In his short career to date, he's accumulate 206 wickets in all forms so far. With special notice to his T20I stats, where he's picked up 24 wickets, at an average of 11.79 with an economy of 5.28 and a strikerate of 13.3.

He's a slow left-arm orthodox bowler, who continues to impress for Ireland. With spin likely to make a huge part of the T20 WC, the overs by Dockrell will be vital to Ireland's cause.

Key Aggresive Opening Batsman - Paul Stirling
Key Batsman Gary Wilson
Key Middle Order Batsman - Niall O'Brien(wk)
Key Bowler - George Dockrell

While Ireland remains an outside for the World Cup. One scalp out of their two games could go a long way to helping them progress to the next round. These mentioned players are the most vital players in the side. Although Ireland will look to the experience of Trent Johnston and Alex Cusack and Kevin O'Brien to name a few.
With this World Cup being the last hurrah for Trent Johnston, he will want to go out on a high. This team doesn't go to the World Cup to make up the numbers. They firmly believe they can progress far into the tournament and possibly win it outright.

"Having watched Ireland play and also in training, and talked to the likes of Trent Johnston and Boyd Rankin, it's not hard to guess why they so consistently punch above their weight. If you could bottle the spirit within the camp, it would sell as well as Guinness or Bushmills. They're a tight unit, and take such joy in each other's successes." - Dileep Premachandra