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Ireland finish top of the table

Ireland completed their programme in the ICC Euroepan Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier with an emphatic 8 wickets victory over The Netherlands in a rain-shortened encounter at Bready.

The ground still hadn't recovered from the rains of the past two days and the match was delayed, eventually being reduced to a 17 overs per side game. Ireland captain Cecilia Joyce, deputising for her injured sister Isobel, won the toss and put the Dutch into bat.

Openers Helmien Rambaldo and captain Denise Hannema began slowly against accurate bowling from Kim Garth and Louise McCarthy. However, Rambaldo was forced to retire when she tried to pull a short ball from McCarthy and was hit in the throat. She had to receive attention for some time on the pitch but was able to walk off unaided.

Hannema was caught behind by Mary Waldron off McCarthy with the total at 10 chasing a widish delivery. That brought together Caroline de Groot and Miranda Veringmeier in a partnership that was to realise 56 from the next 11 overs. At first they found it difficult to get the ball past the inner ring of fielders and it wasn't until the 11th over of the innings that the first boundary came, when Veringmeier drove Laura Cullen down the ground. She followed that up with another boundary, a full toss smashed through mid off, off the next delivery.

The partnership ended when De Groot skied Cullen to Cecelia Joyce at mid wicket. With just over two overs remaining the rest of the innings was rather frenetic with the final over producing four dismissals, including three run outs, one of which was when trying to complete a second run off a wide. The final tally for The Netherlands was a somewhat below-par 84.

There was a shower during the interval - although short-lived, two overs were lost before the covers could be removed - and Ireland's target was reduced to 77 from 15 overs. Clare Shillington and Joyce opened for Ireland and showed that they weren't going to hang around in pursuit of their target. 23 runs came from the first three overs with Shillington being especially severe on anything short or over-pitched.

When Joyce was stumped by Heather Siegers, tempted to leave her crease by a well-flighted delivery from Esther de Lange, Shillington further increased the tempo. Together with Kim Garth she advanced the total to 62 when she fell lbw trying to sweep Hannema. Her most impressive 35 came from 26 balls and included five boundaries.

At the other end Kimberley Garth had been happy to play second fiddle to Shillington but she then took over the main scoring role with some beautifully-timed shots. When she hit the winning runs through the legs of the deep mid on fielder she had made 22 from 22 deliveries.

So Ireland finished the tournament at the top of the table with two wins from two completed matches and, provided the afternoon match betwen The Netherlands and Scotland produced a result, a place in the Women's T20 World Cup Global Qualifier.

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