Ireland Player of the Year 2011: the contenders
2011 proved a relatively quiet year for Ireland in terms of games played - only 17 in contrast to 44 in 2010 and 33 in 2009. However, one of those games was to bring the most famous win in Irish cricket history - a World cup victory over England in Bangalore.
We look at the six contenders for the accolade of Irish cricketer of the year in alphabetical order.
George Dockrell: The 19 year old continued his excellent form of the previous year, despite suffering a dislocated shoulder in the win against Netherlands in India. In total he took 29 wickets at an average of 24.86, with a best bowling analysis of 5-71. He will be able to tell the granchildren about dismissing Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni in the game with India.
It wasn't all about his bowling though - he showed glimpses of his future all-round ability by making 149 runs at 24.83, including 53 in the ICup win over Namibia. Throw in his 7 catches and 4 run outs, and a multi-functional cricketer is born! 2012 could well be his breakthrough year with Somerset for whm injury severely restricted his appearances, although he did have some excellent performaces in the limited overs games.
John Mooney: Since being awarded a contract with Cricket Ireland John Mooney has transformed himself from a peripheral bit-part player into one of Phil Simmons most reliable cricketers. He had what he called his 'Ray Houghton' moment scoring the winning runs against England, calmly taking Ireland over the finishing line after the game had been set up by Kevin O'Brien and Alex Cusack.
It was with the ball with which Mooney found his niche in 2011 - often either opening the bowling or first change in the absence of Trent Johnston or Boyd rankin, the North County all-rounder took 30 wickets at just 22.90 - the most successful of the Irish attack.
He chipped in with 306 runs at 21.6 with a highest score of 86, which ensured victory against Namibia in the first game of the World Cup qualifiers. Mooney also excelled in the field with 4 catches and 4 run outs.
Kevin O'Brien: That innings against England ensured Kevin O'Brien became the most recognisable Irish cricketer on the planet, as the Indian public took him, his pink hair, and his Irish team mates into their hearts after his World Cup pyrotechnics. Chasing 328 to win, O'Brien scored the quickest century in World Cup history (50 balls) to take Ireland to unimaginable heights.
The figures show that in 2011 he scored 466 runs at 29.12, and also took 12 wickets at 29.50. His safe hands pouched 12 ctahces and he effected 2 run outs.
O'Brien secured a one-day contract with Gloucestershire and also won the Lawrence Trophy for the season's quickest hundred - 44 balls against Middlesex, proving that his World Cup heroics wasn't a 'one-off.' He is hopeful of securing an IPL contract next month when the auction takes place.
Niall O'Brien: The Northants and Ireland keeper was the epitome of consistency in 2011, enjoying a successful season despite an ongoing finger injury. He scored 401 runs at 40.10 in his 12 appearances including two half centuries.
He scored two half centuries, both times making 57 in the wins against Netherlands and Namibia.
With the gloves he took 10 catches, 1 stumping and was involved in three run outs - a feature of Ireland was that they had a total of 17 run outs in their 17 games.
William Porterfield: The 27 year old drew widespread acclaim from the world media for his astute captaincy during the World Cup, and he once again proved a reliable opener.
He scored 484 runs at 32.27, with his highest score of 75 coming against India in Bangalore.
His fielding was up to his usual excellent standard, taking 8 catches and being involved in 2 run outs.
Paul Stirling: The 20 year old Middlesex and ireland opener took his cricket to a new dimension in 2011, adding consistency to his undoubted explosive talent.
He scored no fewer than four centuries in the 17 games - the rest of the batsman managed just two between them - Kevin O'Brien against England and Andrew White versus Namibia.
In total Stirling scored 686 runs at 40.35, succeeding Ricky Ponting as the youngest centurion at the World Cup with his effort against the Dutch. His hundred against Pakistan in Belfast drew widespread praise, including plaudits from Waqar Younis.
He took 8 wickets at a rather costly 51.38, and took 8 catches and one run out in the field.