IRELAND must rely on a back door entry to the Under-19 World Cup finals for the second time in four years after Scotland secured the European qualifying spot with a 47-run victory in Voorburg yesterday.
The Scots must still beat Denmark in their final qualifying game tomorrow but their run-rate is so superior that level points would not be enough for Ryan Eaglesonís squad.
Ireland went into the game yesterday knowing that it was a winner-takes-all clash, and a horrible collapse, when they lost their last eight wickets for 55 runs, ensured they will finish second in the group, even before they play bottom-of-the-table France in their last game.
Irelandís only hope of playing in the finals now is for Zimbabwe, currently banned from all competitions because of political interference, to still be suspended when the finals in South Africa start on January 17.
However, Zimbabweís situation is due to be reviewed at the end of October and they will be doing everything in their power to get reinstated.
If they are not, it could be a case of history repeating itself, as in 2015 when Australia refused to travel to Bangladesh because of security issues and Ireland were invited to take their place after finishing second to Scotland in the qualifying campaign.
However, Ireland can have no complaints if they miss out. Unlike the last qualifiers, when they beat the Scots off the last ball to spark euphoric scenes, yesterday Scotland were convincing winners.
Tom Mackintosh was the outstanding batsman on show, scoring 107, dismissed off the penultimate ball of the innings.
The last 15 overs of the respective innings settled the match. Scotland were 155-2 with McIntosh 63 not out, Ireland in reply were 146-3, but while McIntosh stayed to bring up his century, not only were Irelandís two best batsmen, Alex Stiles and Will Smale, out within three overs of each other, but in between skipper Neil Rock and Tim Tector were also dismissed.
The loss of four wickets for eight runs was just too much to cope with, and this time James Hunter, bowled for 12, and JJ Garth, stumped for 14, who had performed well in earlier games, could not save them.
Ireland Under-19s assistant coach Albert van der Merwe admitted the boys were second best on the day.
ďAll credit to Scotland, who were better us in all three disciplines, even our fielding wasnít up to the standard of the last three games. Run son the board always creates scoreboard pressure and in the end it told. We were always 10 runs behind throughout."