IT was always going to be a no-contest but in the end victory against France was even easier than Ireland can have imagined in their penultimate game at the European qualifying tournament in La Manga for the 2023 T20 World Cup.

Rarely do you see an international innings when the top individual score is three and of the 24 runs total, exactly half were given to them by Ireland wides. There were five ducks and the highest partnership was nine, as France ‘recovered’ from 13 for six in the 12th over.

There is a world of a difference between the two nations – and 25 ranking places – and it was obvious from the first ball to last.

Ireland’s openers, Rebecca Stokell and Louise Little, in her first game of the tournament, needed only 19 balls to knock off the runs, although they actually hit only one boundary and were helped by six extras.

Amy Hunter was another player to get her first, and likely, only outing but she could play only a bit-part in the game once Laura Delany elected to bowl.

The other Northern Ireland player in the squad, Cara Murray, sent down three overs and finished with figures of one for five and also took a catch but all six bowlers used got into the wicket-taking column with fifth bowler Eimear Richardson bowling 13 balls, taking two wickets without conceding a run.

Despite the standard of opposition – rightly getting their chance on the big stage – Delany was delighted by Ireland’s response to Friday’s defeat by Scotland, which ended their hopes of winning the tournament.

“It was a tough loss against Scotland but the rest day helped us to refocus. We were clear what plans we had to execute,” she said.

“Pace off the ball has worked better for us on these slow wickets and slow outfields. We have lots of spinners in the side and it’s great to see Cara back bowling for Ireland and doing well.”

Ireland’s final game is this morning (0930 BST) against Netherlands, who defeated them in their last game in Malahide last month.

“It will be tough, especially with their batting line-up and the power they have throughout the team,” Delany added.