Cricket: Joyce and O'Brien help Ireland to record total
ED JOYCE and Niall O'Brien both made effortless centuries against the United Arab Emirates to lift Ireland to a record score of 589-7 declared on the second day of their InterContinental Cup clash in Sharjah.
However, batting proved almost as comfortable for the home side, who replied with 56-1 in the final session. It will, thus, require a monumental effort from Ireland to take the remaining 19 wickets to force an outright win over the next two days.
Joyce (right), who was 99 not out overnight, completed only his third century for Ireland – his first since 2005 – with a quick single taken from the first ball of the morning.
The 34-year-old left-hander added nine boundaries to the eight he scored on the first day and had Eoin Morgan's individual record Ireland score of 209 in his sights when he was run out for 155 at the non-striker's end.
O'Brien kept the momentum going with a six and 11 fours before he holed out on 126 – his first century for Ireland since the 2008 InterContinental Cup final against Namibia in Port Elizabeth.
"It was good to get 2013 under way with some runs on the board," O'Brien said. "The pitch is a good one for batting, but it was showing signs of turning a bit towards the end of our innings and we have to hope it helps our spinners as the game moves on."
It was a bit of spin that saw Andrew White caught behind and prevented Gary Wilson becoming the third Irish centurion when he was bowled for 84 shortly after tea.
The wicketkeeper's departure left the stage clear for stalwarts Kevin O'Brien and John Mooney to take Ireland past their previous highest total of 578-4 against Kenya in 2008.
Mooney's dismissal brought the declaration, but with only Tim Murtagh's lbw victim to show for Ireland's efforts in 24 probing overs, two days of hard work and sweat lie ahead.