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Match Report
Alastair Bushe

The emotion was one of sheer relief as Stormont yesterday as Ireland finally ended their barren two-year sequence without a victory against county opposition. What's more they did it in convincing fashion, cruising to a four-wicket win over Warwickshire with 20 balls to spare, largely off the back of a composed captain's innings from William Porterfield. In his fourth match since taking over the reins from Trent Johnston, the Donemana born left-hander led from the front, grinding out a priceless 69 as Ireland passed Warwickshire's modest 211-7 in the 47th over, and in the process delivered Phil Simmons his most significant achievement yet as coach.

The bowlers kept their side of the bargain by restricting Warwickshire after the visitors had opted to bat first, and then Porterfield took the game by the scruff of the neck with a typically dogged knock. He left most of the aggressive batting to his colleagues, Reinhardt Strydom and Paul Stirling with a delightful cameo of 27 gave Ireland decisive impetus in the opening 15 overs, but looked in total control before he eventually fell with just 16 runs needed for victory. Porterfield took 94 deliveries to reach his half-century. Contrast that with Strydom's blazing 35 from 30 balls and indeed 17-year-old Stirling's classic 27 from 31, but was exactly the kind of innings Ireland required in the circumstances.

The flying start delivered by Strydom and Stirling, Ireland were 45 for nought after eight overs and later 74 for one off 15, meant Porterfield had the luxury of playing an old-fashioned one-day knock at the other end, content in the knowledge they were always well ahead of the required run rate. The only disappointment was that he fell so close to the end after facing 109 balls and hitting seven boundaries, mostly through the off-side, but there were no further alarms as Kevin O'Brien and Kyle McCallan, two other heroes of the World Cup fairytale in the Caribbean last year, saw them home as the former hit the hapless Monde Zondeki over square leg for six for the winning runs.

Earlier Ireland produced an almost faultless display in the field. Ravi Rampaul, the West Indian overseas player, bowled with real hostility with the new ball. Rampaul trapped Warwickshire's most effective one-day cricket, captain Darren Maddy, LBW. Philip Eaglestone accounted for the dangerous Neil Carter and then Alex Cusack bowled the out of touch Jonathan Trott for just nine to leave Warwickshire struggling on 62 for three. Left-hander Ian Westwood had threatened a revival for the county side with 41 from 81 balls but he became the first of two wickets for spinner Gary Kidd when he miscued a reverse sweep in the 26th over. Kidd struck again two overs later as wicket-keeper Gary Wilson smartly stumped Luke Parker as he advanced down the pitch, and at 93 for five, Warwickshire were teetering. Waringstown duo Kidd and McCallan bowled their 10-over allotment straight through in tandem, both conceding less than four runs an over, but there was a case for recalling Rampaul to break the partnership of 89 for the sixth wicket between Michael Powell (46 not out) and wicket-keeper Tony Frost (56).

That stand at least gave Warwickshire something credible to defend but their bowling lacked the penetration to give Ireland anything more than the slightest concern. Warwickshire, without Ian Bell and Tim Ambrose, were a huge disappointment. This team is a far cry from the Dermott Reeve inspired side that once dominated one-day cricket in England. However this is not the time to dwell on their adequacies, but instead we should laud Ireland's worthy victory.

Stormont, Belfast