Eoin Morgan came home to Malahide and scored a match-winning century as England eased to a six wickets victory over Ireland in the one-off, one-day international.
On the ground where he played senior cricket, in front of a handful of spectators, as a 13-year-old, the Irishman took centre stage with almost 10,000 people watching to finish 124 not out, winning the match with his fourth six.
Morgan, still six days short of his 27th birthday, shared a world record fifth wicket partnership of 226 with Ravi Bopara who deservedly reached his century before England chased down their victory target of 270 with an almost ridiculous seven overs to spare.
And Morgan wasn't the only Irishman in red yesterday. Boyd Rankin, after 38 ODIs for Ireland, was given his debut and was England's most successful bowler, taking four for 47 as Ireland were restricted to 269 for seven.
William Porterfield dominated that innings, the captain scoring his 10th century for Ireland but his first in an ODI for three years, since his 115 against Bangladesh at Stormont, still Ireland's only victory over a Full Member on home soil.
It was a welcome return to form for the opening batsman who has lost his place in the Warwickshire four-day line-up but his international statistics this year stand up with the best of them - this was his second hundred to add to four 50s in 10 innings.
But for the second big match in row, Porterfield was let down by his bowlers. In May, Pakistan were 133 for seven, chasing 240, and they won by two wickets; yesterday, thanks to Tim Murtagh's impressive opening spell, Bopara came to the middle with England struggling on 48 for four.
It was to be another 204 runs before Ireland got another chance - and Niall O'Brien, without gloves, on the deep mid-wicket boundary spilled it. Five balls later it all over.
Morgan finished 124 not out, his fifth one-day century - six if you include the one for Ireland against Canada in 2007 - from just 106 balls with eight fours and four sixes. Bopara was even quicker, facing 75 balls and hitting 15 boundaries, five of them clearing the fence.
Porterfield insisted on giving his medium pacers, Kevin O'Brien and John Mooney, seven overs in the middle of the innings - two of them in the powerplay overs - and, as he admitted later, "in hindsight it was probably the wrong move".
Max Sorensen, left stranded after three overs as first change bowler, was not recalled until Ireland were just 25 runs from victory and his extra pace conceded just seven runs in his solitary over. The medium pacers conceded 68 in their seven overs. But, then, even George Dockrell could not stop the runs haemorrhaging, the slow left armer conceding 73 runs in his most expensive 10 overs for Ireland.
Rankin was one of three England debutants but it was not such a good day for the others. Gary Ballance was out second ball - although he did hold the catch to dismiss Paul Stirling, in the same over as he crashed two fours through the covers - while Michael Carberry put down two catches, including Porterfield on 85, and was the butt of the crowd jeers throughout the day.
Four overs later, Ed Joyce stepped back on his stumps and was given out hit wicket, but only after Rankin had pointed out the missing bail to the umpires who had to refer it to the television umpire.
James Tredwell, getting big turn, picked up of the wickets of Niall O'Brien and Gary Wilson, although the latter was unlucky as the ball hit him outside the line, and when Kevin O'Brien was brilliantly held by Eoin Morgan at mid-wicket, Ireland were in trouble at 161 for five.
But John Mooney, the victim of another umpiring error, saw Porterfield to his hundred, which he brought up with a huge six, off Rankin, into the stands at mid-wicket.
In all, the Ireland captain faced 143 balls and also hit 14 fours and when he was out at the start of the 46th over, Sorensen, on his ODI debut scored 24 off 17 balls and with the help of Trent Johnston, Ireland added 45 in the last five overs to give the record crowd a chance of witnessing another famous victory.
After 15 overs they were dreaming, but 28 overs later it had turned into a nightmare.
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
Irishmen shone for England, Englishmen shone for Ireland and the sun shone on everyone on one of the great days in the history of the game in this country at a packed Malahide.
In the end England skipper Eoin Morgan came back, saw and conquered as his majestic knock of 124 not out in an ODI record unbeaten fifth-wicket stand of 226 with Ravi Bopara (101 not out) saw the visitors home with seven overs to spare.
It left the crowd pretty deflated as they streamed away in the early autumn sun, but in many respects this day was never about the result, although any defeat to England always hurts.
As Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom pointed out in the build-up, it was all about showing the world that Ireland had come of age as a cricketing nation in every respect and they were going to have a party to celebrate. Just like Morgan, they pulled it off in style.
President Michael D Higgins arrived during the lunch interval to quite a reception, while the top man in the International Cricket Council, chief executive David Richardson, was on hand to witness close on 10,000 supporters bathed in sunshine more akin to Barbados than dear old Dublin.
At the ground they cheered and even booed, saving a little venom up for Morgan when he came out to bat, although it was only half-hearted.
He quietened the crowds with his bat with a stunning innings of control and aggression, with Bopara proving a willing ally.
Morgan was delighted with his innings after a mixed summer with the bat, but also took time out to praise the organisation of the day on the ground where he made his debut as a 13-year-old.
"An incredible day for Irish cricket today, the support was magnificent, nine or 10,000 people coming out here today to support, so congratulations to Cricket Ireland on a fantastic day," said Morgan, who also presented the England team to President Higgins.
Morgan also praised the performance of the second Irishman in the England team as opening bowler Boyd Rankin took four wickets for 46 on his ODI debut.
"Boyd's quite used to conditions here, he had to go a little fuller to start with, which is quite challenging for a guy of his height, but he's handled things quite well and settled in really well."
So a win-win really for Irish cricket and Irish cricketers on so many levels even with the taste of defeat still lingering, with the impact of the Sky Sports cameras beaming pictures of azure skies around the globe worth more than any advertising campaign could manage.
They gathered alright, gathered to watch cricket, gathered to cheer on Ireland and England, gathered to chat and catch up and share a drink.
Wouldn't it be great if it could be like this all the time they said. For one glorious day in a north county village, the world looked on as Irish cricket showed itself off in all its glory. And a former local legend walked off with spoils.
- Steve Finn
- Ravi Bopara
- William Porterfield
- Boyd Rankin
- Boyd Rankin bowling
- Boyd Rankin congratulated
- Ed Joyce
- Mark Hawthorne checks what's going on
- Joyce departs
- Michael Carberry
- Rankin took four wickets
- William Porterfield
- William Porterfield batting
- Defended by Niall O'Brien
- Steve Finn
- Jogging into position
- James Tredwell
- Eoin Morgan brings out the reverse sweep
- Swept by Porterfield
- Niall O'Brien
- Swept by Niall O'Brien
- Played through midwicket by Porterfield
- Ravi Bopara
- Gary Wilson congratulates William Porterfield
- Fifty for William Porterfield
- John Mooney
- John Mooney batting
- Hit away by Porterfield
- Spilled by Michael Carberry
- Michael Carberry fields
- Pulled by John Mooney
- John Mooney batting
- Pat on the back from Michael Carberry
- Improvisation from William Porterfield
- Huge six from William Porterfield brings up his hundred
- John Mooney congratulates William Porterfield
- Guided away by William Porterfield
- Trent Johnston
- Driven by Trent Johnston
- Tim Murtagh
- Tim Murtagh bowling
- Michael Carberry struck on the pad
- Huge appeal by Trent Johnston
- Ireland celebrate the wicket
- Sweet baby James Taylor
- Trent Johnston
- Luke Wright chops on
- Tim Murtagh celebrates
- Eoin Morgan
- Cut square by Ravi Bopara
- Eoin Morgan batting
- Swept by Eoin Morgan
- Hundred for Eoin Morgan
- Morgan celebrates
- Eoin Morgan congratulated by Ravi Bopara
- Eoin Morgan salutes his hundred
- Trent and Vanessa Johnston
- Farewell Dublin