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Cricket World Cup: Kevin O'Brien full of Irish ambition

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011
Dates: 19 February-2 April Venues: India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh
Coverage: Highlights on BBC TV (see listings), Red Button & BBC Sport website at 2200 GMT every day (UK users only); Live Test Match Special commentary (BBC 5 live sports extra, online, some games also on BBC Radio 4 LW) and live text commentary on England matches and selected others; Live on Sky Sports

Ireland celebrate beating England at the cricket World Cup

Highlights - Ireland seal shock win over England (UK users only)

By Alvin McCaig
BBC Sport NI

It doesn't get much sweeter than this - a burly bloke with pink hair smacks six sixes into the Bangalore stands to give Ireland their first ever win against the old enemy.

Kevin O'Brien is the new hero of Irish sport after blasting his way to the fastest century in World Cup history, and against an Ashes-winning attack.

England set a daunting target of 328 and when Ireland slumped to 111-5 a second defeat in two games looked a certainty.

As the Dublin club player started his assault it seemed only a matter of time before one of his big hits would be swallowed up on the boundary.

But this was no cameo innings from O'Brien, and ably assisted by Alex Cusack he took Ireland to a position where victory became a possibility.

From this point it became both horrible and wonderful to watch, a boundary easing the stress levels before a few dot balls raised the tension once again.

Ireland captain William Porterfield

Cricket World Cup: Porterfield revels in Ireland's 'biggest win'

At least John Mooney was consistent, the nerves building as he struggled in each over before plundering a boundary off the last ball.

Mooney hit the winning runs to spark celebrations as the Irish recorded the highest successful run chase in the competition.

It was a triumph, just like the shock victory over Pakistan four years ago, which was celebrated well beyond the confines of cricket and takes its place on the list of greatest Irish sporting achievements.

We have been spoilt in the last year with Tony McCoy's Grand National triumph and Graeme McDowell winning the US Open.

This completes a wonderful treble and the significance of the win for Irish cricket is massive.

Ireland have built on their impressive World Cup debut in 2007, cementing their place as the top Associate nation and with 13 of their 15-man squad now playing full-time cricket.

Test status is the long-term target but even making the 2015 World Cup is in doubt after the International Cricket Council proposed cutting the number of competing teams to 10.

The Irish believe they deserve a place among the elite and this World Cup was to be the platform to push their claims.

There was a distinct lack of Test class batting in their opener against hosts Bangladesh, falling 28 runs shorts of a modest target of 206.

Ed Joyce
Ed Joyce in action against New Zealand in a warm-up game earlier this month

Ireland looked like a team overcome by the occasion and constrained by the pressure of proving their worth on the biggest stage.

The gloom deepened on Monday with teenage spinner George Dockrell considering a switch to England in order to play Test cricket.

Eoin Morgan is the latest example of this talent drain to England and unless Ireland get Test status he will not be the last.

So the vibes were not great going into the England showdown and with five wickets down for 111 it was no surprise odds of 399/1 were being offered on an Irish victory.

Kevin O'Brien entered the stage and we know the rest, although he provided much more than 113 blistering runs and two points for his team.

This was a massive statement by Ireland, that they can compete with and beat the best teams on their day.

The grand plan is back on track and if the Irish reach the quarter-finals their ambitions will become hard to dismiss.

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see also
Thursday's Cricket World Cup gossip
03 Mar 11 |  Cricket
Brilliant Ireland shock England
02 Mar 11 |  Cricket
Hero O'Brien hails 'best innings'
02 Mar 11 |  Ireland
Strauss stunned by England defeat
02 Mar 11 |  England
Agnew at the World Cup
02 Mar 11 |  Cricket
Short, back and wides for Ireland
01 Mar 11 |  Ireland
Dockrell considers England move
28 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Andrew White column
27 Feb 11 |  Ireland
Hosts Bangladesh edge past Irish
25 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Rankin revved up for Irish bid
16 Feb 11 |  Ireland
Joyce ready for Irish challenge
11 Feb 11 |  Ireland
Do Ireland pass the Test?
09 Jun 10 |  Ireland
Irish claim second World Cup win
15 Apr 07 |  Cricket
Unconvincing England beat Ireland
30 Mar 07 |  Cricket
Ireland shock sends Pakistan home
17 Mar 07 |  Cricket
World Cup guide: Ireland
14 Feb 11 |  Ireland
Cricket World Cup 2011 squads
19 Jan 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2011
09 Mar 11 |  Cricket

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