Ireland came back from the dead to win their first one-day match of the season, remarkably, by the minimum margin against the Netherlands.

Seven overs from the end the Dutch were coasting at 186 for three, needing only 24 runs for victory, but the introduction into the bowling attack of Kevin O'Brien and the return of Ireland's best ‘death bowler', Andre Botha, conjured up the most unlikely of victories.

Unforgiveably, the Netherlands had still four wickets left at the end - and Ireland didn't take one in the last two overs - but Botha conceded just six from the 49th and O'Brien, entrusted with the final over, was hit for a solitary single from his first five deliveries. How far has he come since being hit for 18 in the last over when Scotland won the World League clash in Nairobi in January! The Ireland fielders were then able to watch the final ball of the match go for four, the boundary too late to matter.

For Ireland it was probably a relief to be playing against amateur opposition again. Their previous eight limited overs matches since the World Cup finals were against county and international opponents and this time they had eight of the Caribbean squad back together. William Porterfield was missing with a thigh strain and Gary Kidd was finally given his second cap - three years after his first - in place of Andrew White.

Yet, it was plain sailing for the Dutch when Mudassar Bakhari, who had batted at No 9 in their debacle against the Windies on Tuesday, was promoted to open and inelegantly clobbered 71 to make a huge dent in their victory target of 211. Ireland used eight bowlers but the return of Dave Langford-Smith lasted only three overs - his first spell going for 22 runs - and even Andre Botha could not make a breakthrough as the Dutch added 84 for the first wicket in just 21 overs.

In contrast Ireland, with Eoin Morgan at the top of the order for the first time, found runs hard to come by against an accurate but never threatening attack.

Morgan playing only his second game of the summer and his first one-dayer since the World Cup did not bring his free-scoring Twenty20 form with Middlesex into the match, choosing instead to set out his stall, presumably, to bat out 50 overs.

After 27, he had faced 73 balls for just 19 runs with only a couple of twos interrupting his run of singles and by the time he brought up his 50 in 108 balls he had hit two sixes but not one four - which must be some sort of record for an ODI.

At the other end, Carroll seemed to get a harsh leg before decision, a purposeful Botha, in his first Ireland match for more two months, mistimed a pull and Niall O'Brien was content to work the singles. The loss of both Morgan, four balls after his half century, and his county professional colleague six overs but only 23 runs later ensured that Ireland were unable to pick up the pace until the arrival of Kevin O'Brien and, crucially, Dave Langford-Smith.

O'Brien junior scored 34 off 39 balls and although Johnston was out for just two, Langford-Smith was hiked up the order to smash 31 from 12 balls with three sixes and a four.

At halfway, Ireland appeared happy with their total of 210 for eight but there were no terrors in the chronically slow pitch as the Dutch openers saw off Ireland's first five bowlers. They were restricted by a marvellous spell by Botha - his seven overs costing just eight runs - but it needed the introduction of Mr Dependable, Kyle McCallan, to break the opening stand, 17 year old Alexei Kervezee caught at mid-off.

Bukhari surrendered his wicket in a run-out and when Baz Zuiderent, the former Sussex player, gave a return catch to Alex Cusack - finally introduced in the 39th over - the first hint of panic appeared in the Netherlands side.

After the experience of the World League it makes a change for an Ireland side to hold its nerve but this win hopefully this can kick-start their 2007 summer.