Wednesday, February 18, 2015


AFTER he hit the winning runs against England in Bangalore, Johnny Mooney hurled his bat high in the air and screamed as his teammates charged on to celebrate.
Yesterday in the small town of Nelson, New Zealand, Mooney’s boundary again clinched a World Cup win.
But this time he took off his helmet slowly and shook the hand of the nearest West Indian fielder. The rest of the team walked on to the field to celebrate in a much more low-key fashion than four years ago.
This wasn’t a “giant-killing” as the commentators wanted to frame it. This was a highly talented team going about the professional dismantling of a rival.
Job done, move on.
William Porterfield’s men moved on last night to the north-east of Australia where they play the United Arab Emirates this day week, before they head into the deep waters of a game against South Africa.
“I don’t see it as an upset”, Porterfield said afterwards. “We prepared to come into this game to win. We’re going to prepare to go into the UAE game to win.
“It’s where we’re at.” It was a win born in the well-made plans of Phil Simmons and his staff, and executed with style by the Irish fielders, spinners and top order bats.
Calling the toss right was a great help, allowing the Irish bowlers first use of a pitch which only gave help to the bowlers for about 20 minutes at the start of the day.
The first ten over powerplay saw just 40 runs conceded and two vital wickets claimed. The Irish spinners then started to turn up the heat and none more than Andrew McBrine, a late surprise call up who had never played against a major nation.
The 21 year old from the Co Tyrone village of Donemana coughed up just 26 runs off his ten overs, and completed a brilliant run out of Darren Bravo for a diamond duck. George Dockrell was hit for six by Chris Gayle but kept his nerve to claim his wicket and the Windies other star batsman Marlon Samuels in the space of three-balls.
At 87-5 Ireland were well on top, and could have sealed it early had Paul Stirling not dropped Darren Sammy first ball off a tricky slip chance.
It took another 89 runs before Sammy was finally subdued after a brilliant fight-back stand of 154 in 20 overs with Lendl Simmons.
The latter did his best to ruin the day of his second cousin Phil with an 84-ball century which ended in the last over after hitting five sixes. Dockrell finished with 3-50 and there were wickets for Mooney, Kevin O’Brien and Max Sorensen but Ireland’s seamers struggled against an unyielding pitch, short boundaries and a fast outfield.
The batting conditions were the same for Ireland of course, and the experienced top order finally clicked after a difficult winter. Porterfield and Stirling got on the attack early and raced ahead of the required run-rate.
After ten overs, by comparison, they had reached 61-0. The captain went trying to hit Gayle’s gentle spin but Stirling was joined by Ireland’s class act, Ed Joyce.
With the West Indies bowling far too short, there were runs to be had and both batsmen played a great range of shots through and over the fielders. They showed no fear as they raced past the 100 mark with Stirling putting feared bowlers like Jerome Taylor to the sword with a sequence of 4-6-4-4.
They had put together a century stand when Stirling fell eight short of a well-deserved century with a thin edge off the innocuous Marlon Samuels, by when Ireland were almost 100 ahead of where their opponents had been at the same stage.
Joyce was joined by Niall O’Brien who frequently talks of his regret that he was out for a match-winning 72 just before the win was sealed over Pakistan in 2007.
The Railway Union man carried on where Stirling left off, mixing aggression with defence before Joyce too fell for a marvellous 84, the same score as he made against West Indies in 2011.
His departure led to a flurry of wickets which might have caused panic in a lesser side. Four wickets fell in less than five overs for 18 runs, but just 14 were needed when O’Brien was joined by Mooney.
The veterans have given so much to the sport over the last decade and it was fitting they were there to see it home.

Successful 300 chases in World Cups:
  • Ireland 329 for 7 v England in 2011
  • Sri Lanka 313 for 7 v Zimbabwe in 1992
  • Ireland 307 for 4 v Netherlands in 2011
  • Ireland 307 for 6 v West Indies in 2015
  • England 301 for 9 v West Indies in 2007