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WORLD CUP

No such thing as luck for Irish giantkillers

17 February 2015

John Mooney celebrates hitting the winning runs against West Indies // Getty Images

Laura Jolly


@JollyLauz18

Laura Jolly


@JollyLauz18

The Green Machine have more teams in their sites this World Cup after their latest 'upset' victory

Was Ireland's four-wicket defeat of West Indies really a 'shock'? Perhaps not, when you consider that Ireland have now knocked off a Test-playing nation for the third ICC Cricket World Cup in a row.

For those who follow the Associate nation more regularly than their appearance at a World Cup every four years, yesterday's victory was anything but a surprise.

This team has come a long way from the group of amateur players which shocked Pakistan in Jamaica in 2007.

Ireland are a team of full-time, professional cricketers, many of whom have county cricket contracts in England.

They have become a serious force in world cricket and with a quarter-final berth firmly in their sights, no team in Pool B is taking Ireland lightly.

It is a telling statistic that in World Cup history, teams have only successfully chased more than 300 runs on five occasions.

Ireland are responsible for three of them.

When Ireland burst on to the World Cup scene in 2007, upsetting Pakistan and Bangladesh, tying with Zimbabwe and progressing to the Supers 8s, it was safe to say the boys in green had taken other teams by surprise.

While they were the Cinderella story of the 2007 tournament, they proved they were no one-hit wonder by repeating their giant-killing efforts in 2011 when they knocked off geographical rival England.

Ireland celebrate the upset win over England in 2011 // Getty Images

These days, the cricket world knows what this Associate nation is capable of. Teams who do not take Ireland seriously do so at their own peril.

While the West Indies form is questionable – they have come into the World Cup off a heavy series loss to South Africa, wracked by internal rumblings and threats of further strike action, not to mention dropping two of their best players – Ireland did not simply fall over the line.

They may have stuttered in the late stages against the Windies, but Ireland otherwise dominated their opening clash in Nelson , taking control early with the wickets of Dwayne Smith (18), Chris Gayle (36), Darren Bravo (0), Marlon Samuels (21) and Denesh Ramdin (1).

While the Windies recovered to post a decent 304-7 thanks largely to Lendl Simmons' century, Ireland's batsman – led by Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce – ensured the result was never in doubt.

John Mooney and Gary Wilson finish off the win for Ireland

Ireland's surprise factor has worn off, but the players are happy to have earned the respect of rival teams.

"I think we definitely get more respect," said spinner George Dockrell, a 22-year-old playing in his second World Cup, before Monday's match.

"I think they are more aware of the threat we have been and that's why teams are treating us a little bit differently."

Veteran allrounder John Mooney, who scored the winning runs on Monday, also noted sides would take Ireland lightly to their own detriment before the start of the tournament.

"Our skill levels have gone up dramatically since 2007," Mooney said.

"We've got a fully professional squad. We've got professional players who aren't even in the 15 which is massive."

Ireland's preparations for the World Cup were long and exhaustive, taking in tours of Australia, New Zealand and Dubai.

Late last year, they played the likes of Black Caps Kyle Mills, Martin Guptill, Luke Ronchi, Nathan McCullum, Mitchell McClenaghan and Adam Milne in a win against New Zealand A.

Ireland then returned to the United Arab Emirates in January for an ODI series against Afghanistan and Scotland, which they won.

Now, the team has serious ambitions of progressing beyond the pool stage of the tournament.

Ireland bring with them plenty of World Cup experience: 84 games, to be precise. By comparison, defending champion India have 36 games of tournament experience, and Australia have 53.

George Dockrell celebrates against West Indies //Getty Images 

Players in Ireland's 2015 squad have scored 16 ODI tons between them, more than the England (15) and Zimbabwe (10) squads and equal with Bangladesh.

Skipper William Porterfield, John Mooney, Ed Joyce and brothers Kevin and Niall O'Brien are playing in their third tournaments.

Talented youngsters Dockrell and Stirling are making their second appearances, as are Alex Cusack and Gary Wilson.

As Porterfield said after Monday's win: "I don't see it as an upset. We came into this game prepared to win. We are looking to pick up two points in every game."

Ireland's big World Cup chases

2015: West Indies 304-7 defeated by Ireland 307-6

2011: England 327 defeated by Ireland 329-7

2011: Netherlands 306 defeated by Ireland 307-4

About the Writer

@JollyLauz18

Laura Jolly is a writer for cricket.com.au. She previously wrote for News Corp Australia and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.