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Ireland scrape home against Scotland

The tournament opener between Ireland and Scotland at Bready turned out to be a thrilling affair with Ireland scraping home with just two wickets and three balls to spare. Chasing a target of 114 for victory, their innings had begun disastrously with four wickets falling inside the opening four overs for just 8 runs. However, the innings was pulled round by a splendid fifth wicket partnership of 75 between Kim Garth and Laura Delany.

Winning the toss, Ireland decided to make Scotland bat first on a damp morning. Leigh Kasperek and Fiona Urquhart began brightly and had put on 29 before left-armer Isobel Joyce's first delivery trapped Kasperek lbw. Urquhart, now in partnership with Kari Anderson, continued to score at a run a ball until she was drawn down the pitch by the slow bowling of Eimear Richardson and was stumped by Mary Waldron. Her attractively-compiled 29 included five boundaries.

With Urquhart's dismissal Anderson took over and steered the Scottish innings to a final tally of 114, her own contribution being an unbeaten 38 from 39 deliveries. However, Scotland would have been slightly disappointed by their failure to score more runs off the final overs bowled by Kim Garth and Laura Delany.

The Ireland bowlers all performed with nobody going for more seven runs per over.

Ireland lost a wicket off the first ball of the innings when Clare Shillington cut a ball from Nadia Wheeler straight to Kasperek at point. They still hadn't got off the mark when, in the opening over from the other end, Melissa Scott-Hayward hit a full toss from Abi Aitken to Kirstie Gordon at mid off. The third over saw the Joyce sisters both back in the pavilion as Isobel played the same shot as Shillington and suffered the same fate as Kasperek took her second catch at point. Then Cecelia gently loobed Wheeler gently to Priyanaz Chatterij at square leg. Ireland had been reduced to 8 for four in 17 deliveries.

Kim Garth and Laura Delany were now together at the crease and they gradually built up momentum in what was to be the match-winning partnership. With good running between the wickets - they were quite prepared to hit the ball directly to fielders on the edge of the ring and go for the singles - and rarely missing out on loose deliveries, they soon put the Scottish fielders under considerable pressure. As a result, a lot of misfields crept into the Scottish ground fielding and a couple of possible run outs went begging.

With just over four overs remaining, Ireland still needed 30 but seemed to be in control of the match. However, Garth fell to a fine catch by Kathryn White at cover, having played most impressively for her 43, including five boundaries, in 49 balls faced. This brought in Eimear Richardson and she immediately began putting bat to ball as Scotland's bowling started to lose its line and length. 13 runs off the 17th over seemed to have sealed the match for Ireland but then Delany and Emma Beamish fell in the space of four balls to renew Scottish hopes.

Mary Waldron soon followed to leave Ireland at 108 for eight but McCarthy and Richardson (22 from just 11 balls) saw Ireland home with a thin edge to the third man boundary.

Elation for Ireland but disappointment for Scotland, for whom Wheeler and Aitken had both taken three wickets.

Photographs