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Match Report
Ian Callender

Day 1

Craig Young put three years of injury and frustration behind him in 13 overs to take four wickets on his international debut as Ireland took control of their Intercontinental Cup game against Scotland in Clontarf.

Young, who took three wickets in his first six overs, was the leading wicket-taker and shared a magnificent seven with Graeme McCarter who had the remarkable figures of three for 13 from 12 overs in his first Ireland appearance in two years.

Young, like Boyd Rankin before him, from the Bready club, and McCarter were joined in the team by a second debutant, Donemana all-rounder Andy McBrine and with William Porterfield leading the side, the North West had four players in an Ireland team for the first time since 2001.

But this was Young's day. Coming to the end of his third season with Sussex, the county have seen him in action for about three months in that time because of injury and he now waiting and hoping that they have seen enough to reward him with a new contract.

Certainly if Sussex coach Mark Robinson had been present yesterday, he could only have been impressed, especially in a hostile first spell. He had opener Freddie Coleman caught at backward point in his third over, and then, with the ball of the day, ripped through the defence of Scotland captain Preston Mommsen. Two balls later, he did the same to the dangerous Richie Berrington and Scotland were 33 for four.

As Young admitted afterwards, it was a day which he thought would never arrive.

"I was in the squad for the 2010 European Championships but got injured before the first warm-up match and was the water-carrier for all that trip.

"I had a stress fracture of the back in 2011 and last year I had a stress fracture of my hip. The most frustrating thing was that I was never given a reason why I got it, the specialist didn't know, but it was me written off for six months.

"Last winter was the hardest training I've ever done but seeing the young guys come through at Sussex made me more determined to fight for my place.

"But I am now a lot fitter and a lot stronger and am fully focused on what I want to achieve. If I keep asking questions and knocking on the door, you never know what lies ahead."

McCarter, his room-mate for this match, will have similar thoughts after also upstaging Max Sorensen and Kevin O'Brien in Ireland's four-man attack.

The former Fox Lodge bowler, now getting first-team game time with Gloucestershire, had to wait until his fifth over for his first wicket of the day, and although that spell was interrupted by another rain delay, he returned to claim two more wickets in six overs with just three scoring shots.

Porterfield and Paul Stirling scored at a run-a-ball in the final 25 minutes and will be looking to build a commanding first innings lead between the showers forecast for today.

Day 2

Just 90 minutes play was possible on the second day of Ireland's InterContinental Cup clash with Scotland at Castle Avenue, as persistent rain forced the umpires to call a halt to proceedings at 5.45pm.

In the 21 overs play which did take place, Ireland advanced their overnight score of 35 for 0 to 99 for 1, just 39 behind the Scotland first innings score of 138 all out.

Ireland skipper William Porterfield was the only Irish casualty, trapped lbw for 30 by the impressive Iain Wardlaw (1-28).

Paul Stirling was in imperious form, striking eight boundaries in an unbeaten fifty from just 73 deliveries - his 20th half-century for Ireland.

Stirling and John Anderson (17*) shared an unbroken stand of exactly 50, before rain drove the players from the field just before mid-day, never to return, despite numerous false starts.

Day 3

An eighth wicket stand of 79, which more than doubled the score, held up Ireland's victory charge in their Intercontinental Cup match against Scotland at Clontarf,and forced the game into a fourth day.

Needing 212 to avoid an innings defeat, four wickets by Max Sorensen reduced the Scots to 64 for seven with 28 overs left but Ireland were unable to make another breakthrough until what proved to be the last ball of the day.

Even then it took a stunning one-handed catch in the covers by captain William Porterfield to dismiss Scotland No 9 Safyaan Sharif who, for the second successive innings showed the top order how to bat.

Before this match, Sharif's top score was 26 but in the first innings he batted for 100 minutes and scored 41 and yesterday he topped that with 60 from 94 balls with eight fours and a six.

But following his dismissal, there will be an end open in the morning and with the Scots still 69 runs behind Ireland will be confident of signing off their victorious campaign with another win.

When Scotland failed to get a first innings lead, it also confirmed Afghanistan as Ireland's opponents in the I-Cup final, to be played in Dubai, starting on December 10.

But while Ireland finished up with a first innings lead of 212, it was an innings of missed opportunities for the batsmen. The top nine all reached 20 but only overnight batsmen Paul Stirling and John Anderson reached 50, the former top scoring with 65.

The spin of Majid Haq and Moneeb Iqbal equally shared the last eight wickets to fall after Stirling hit one straight to the fielder at deep mid-wicket, the first of a number of wasteful shots.

Anderson was caught at slip after resisting for 112 balls and Andrew White became only the third batsman to score 1,500 runs in the competition, but was out almost immediately afterwards. Two balls later, Kevin O'Brien, who had feasted on Iqbal's first over with two fours and a six, tried to do the same at the start of his second spell but, somehow, hit a long-hop straight to cover.

Stuart Poynter would do the same after sharing a sixth wicket stand of 62 with Andrew Balbirnie who can be excused blame for his dismissal, a big turning leg break finding the edge and going to slip.

Andy McBrine, made an encouraging debut with the bat and had hit four boundaries in his 21 before he came down the wicket to Haq and missed and the bowlers, Graeme McCarter and Craig Young could add only 24 with Max Sorensen.

Still, with a total of 350 on the board and 43 overs minimum left in the day a three-day finish looked the most likely scenario, especially when Sorensen, with only a catch from White as help, reduced Scotland to 27 for four and less than an hour later it was 64 for seven as Young and McCarter joined the party to take their match haul to five wickets each.

Neither was as impressive as in the first innings, with Young relying too much on the short ball and McCarter not quite as accurate, but it was another big learning curve for two bowlers who could be the future of Irish cricket.

They will find sterner resistance in the future, however, than this rather feeble Scottish top seven.

Photographs
Day 1
Day 3
Castle Avenue, Clontarf