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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 March 2007, 07:11 GMT 08:11 UK
Ireland coach awaits 'fairytale'
By Paresh Soni
BBC Sport at the World Cup

Ireland coach Adrian Birrell
We're not here to come eighth. We're here to compete and get more upsets

Ireland coach Adrian Birrell
Ireland coach Adrian Birrell says the rest of the World Cup will be a "fairytale" for his team.

The Irish were, by his own admission, "outclassed" by West Indies in their last group game, but they will go into the Super 8 stage in good heart.

"To achieve what we've done is really special, it's a fairytale and a dream come true," Birrell told BBC Sport.

"You have to pinch yourself when you think you're going to play England, Sri Lanka and South Africa."

He added: "We dream of playing these matches so every one of these is our World Cup final.

"For us to play these teams is an honour, they are our heroes and we don't get the opportunity very often to be here."

Birrell is particularly excited about taking on the Proteas.

The former Eastern Province coach is returning home after the tournament, following four years in charge of the Ireland team.

"It's an amazing prospect. I'm South Africa's biggest fan, I've coached a few of the players in that squad and for me to coach a side in the World Cup against them is a big honour.

"I do hope they win the tournament if Ireland don't, it's going to be an incredible experience and I'm really looking forward to that game."

First up for the Irish in Guyana on Friday are England, who have looked far from convincing in their group games.

Birrell hopes to have captain Trent Johnston back after a shoulder injury and said: "It's a dream to play them in a World Cup - who would have thought it would happen a few weeks ago.

Ireland coach Adrian Birrell (right) with captain Trent Johnston
Birrell (right) hopes to have Trent Johnston back for the Super 8s
"They have their own problems but are a tremendously good side and have shown they can bounce back from a series of defeats in Australia. It will be challenge but we look forward to it and relish the opportunity."

Indeed, despite the daunting challenges that lie ahead, Birrell is confident they can more than hold their own in the next seven matches.

"We're not here to come eighth. We're here to compete and get more upsets," he added.

"Success drives you to get more success, you get more greedy, so we will be trying very hard.

"We have to keep doing what we've been doing, keep the same routines that have worked for us up to now and hopefully we can keep playing good cricket.

"We're up against world-class teams, packed with top players, so we're under no illusions. We know it's going to be tough.

"But there's more pressure on the other team than us and there's nothing for us to fear - we like being underdogs."

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