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Tom Devlin'

Ruthless England take the European title

Ireland's women cricketers' vision of victory over England on their way to a European Cup Final triumph were not realised at Castle Avenue. While Ireland were always second favourites, the English side underlined their World Champion status with a display that was ruthless in its efficiency and impressive in manner. With a few exceptions the Irish played below their best and perhaps four matches in five days was too demanding a schedule and took its toll.

They got off to a wretched start, when opener Ann Linehan was bowled off the first ball of the match and Mary Pat Moore was run out in unlucky circumstances to leave them four for two after five overs. After producing prolific opening partnerships of 181 and 99 against Denmark and Holland earlier in the week, it was a wounding and heart-breaking start. But Lily Owens and Miriam Grealey staged a brave revival, putting on 71 in 22 overs, and the innings was back on the rails and the crowd watching with high expectations.

Grealey's innings was highly authoritative, hitting 46 off 77 balls including a six and seven fours until ambition got the better of her and she holed out to Clare Taylor in the 28th over. Against high-quality bowling and high-class fielding the pressure was now on Owens, who despite doing her best, had a testing time trying to keep the runs ticking along at a productive rate. The Clontarf girl stayed until the 43rd over and included seven fours in her 37 runs, but a quicker scoring momentum was needed. Shona Seawright, Catherine O'Neill and Nikki Squire all made a brave effort to hurry the score along, but the innings closed at 150 for eight off 50 overs, some 30 to 40 short of that envisaged at the start of the innings. Clare Taylor, who has represented her country at soccer, took three well judged catches and bowled her ten overs for only 23 runs and claiming two wickets.

However, Irish hopes rose when they captured two English wickets for 18 runs after 11 overs, but with plenty of depth in the visitors' batting it was always an uphill battle. Barbara Daniels at number four was particularly punishing, scoring 47 off 48 balls, and later the fluency of batting from Jane Smit and their captain Karen Smithies was superb as the runs flowed with increasing fluency and the winning post was comfortably reached with plenty of overs to spare. It was a great learning experience for the Irish and Susan Bray, who had splendid finishing analysis of 10 overs for 14 runs without any luck, bowled and fielded superbly.