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Ian Callender

Kevin O'Brien, Ireland's player of the tournament, maintained his prolific form right to the end as the No 1 Associate team in world cricket defended their World Cricket League crown in the style of true champions. The margin in Amstelveen was six wickets as Ireland recovered from 51 for three to chase down Scotland's 232 with 31 balls to spare, O'Brien finishing agonisingly short of his second ODI century on 98 not out. He had the opportunity as he was on strike with the scores level but the Railway Union all rounder was happy to push the single and pick up his third man of the match award of the week.

Coming to the middle at 39 for two after the dismissal of Andrew Balbirnie, who slipped going for a run, and Alex Cusack in the space of three balls, O'Brien lost Paul Stirling in the next over but found a solid companion in Andrew White. Ireland's second most capped player, White was playing his 40th ODI and his 174th game for his country, used all his experience to deflate the Scots who had already been found wanting in their only previous defeat in the competition.

That was also to Ireland, in the round-robin stage when, on a poor Voorburg pitch, they didn't have the stomach for the fight and were dismissed for 117. Now when O'Brien and White were careering along at more than five runs an over in a stand of 162 for the fourth wicket, the bowlers were not up to the task, with the dropped catch by Richie Berrington off White when he was 63 proving to be Scotland's last hope of an upset. Ireland went into the game with their best available team - captain Trent Johnston and Alex Cusack both restored to the side that completed a clean sweep of group victories against the Netherlands on Friday - but before halfway they were a man down.

Andrew Poynter fell over the boundary, attempting to clear a rope, and he landed awkwardly on his shoulder. He has already been ruled out of both this week's European Championships, where he was due to captain the Ireland A team in their final two games and also the two ODIs against Bangladesh at Stormont on Thursday and Friday. After the injury, the Ireland camp were talking confidently of not needing Poynter and despite the dodgy start they didn't. The momentum was already with the holders because their target of 223 was beyond Ireland's wildest dreams after 30 overs of the Scotland innings. Then, the bowlers were still waiting for a breakthrough as Frazer Watts and Preston Mommsen, their newly qualified South African, put on 141.

Inevitably it was O'Brien who claimed the first wicket with the second ball of his comeback spell, having Mommsen caught behind for 80 and when the same combination removed Omar Hussain in his next over Ireland were on a roll, seven wickets falling for 28 runs Johnston and George Dockrell took two of the wickets and Nigel Jones, brought back after an O'Brien over in the powerplay went for 14 - his only downer of the day - finished off the Scots by removing Watts two short of a well deserved century.

After that, nothing was going to stop Ireland - and it sends them into this week's RSA games against Bangladesh with confidence. They have always been seen as Ireland's most important games of the season - a chance to improve their world ranking against a team just two places above them and who can be beaten on Irish soil. After this successful week in Holland and with William Porterfield, Niall O'Brien, Gary Wilson and Boyd Rankin all coming in, the Tigers have been warned.

Scotland also play Bangladesh after the Ireland matches but they will need to show more fight when the going gets tough if they are to get even close to emulating Ireland's success. For the moment it is Ireland first, the rest nowhere.

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