Cricket: Stirling sparkles as Ireland serve notice of league intent
Ireland served notice that they will not give up their World League title without a fight by breezing to a seven-wicket success against Kenya on the opening day of Division 1 matches in the Netherlands.
Paul Stirling and Alex Cusack sped Ireland to victory with more than 10 overs to spare but it was the bowlers who set up the win by dismissing Kenya for 163.
Trent Johnston led the way with two wickets from 10 probing overs and there was also a pair of victims for John Mooney, who has been under-bowled in recent games.
Tougher challenges lie ahead in the six-nation tournament -- notably tomorrow's clash with favourites Afghanistan -- but the ease with which the Africans were beaten suggests Ireland may have the resources to get by, despite the absence of five key players from the squad.
Clontarf all-rounder Cusack took man-of-the-match honours for his two wickets and 59 not out but for Irish fans the star turn again came from Stirling, who holed out for 87 with the victory post in sight.
It was a shrewd move to centrally contract the Belfast youngster last year -- giving Cricket Ireland first call on his services ahead of county side Middlesex -- and he followed his century in a warm-up against Canada with another fine innings.
After losing debutant opener James Hall for six, Stirling dominated the Kenya attack, striking eight fours and a six as he added a decisive 127 with Cusack for the second wicket. Kevin O'Brien fell with the scores level, leaving Andrew Poynter to hit the winning run in Rotterdam.