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It was akin to bray wanderers coming back to beat Man UTD 5-4

Back in 1994, I captained Merrion Cricket Club to a famous victory in the Leinster 3rd XI Cup.

On my team that day was a schoolboy called Ed Joyce, an outrageously talented batsman that everyone felt was destined for big things.

The problem was that Ireland was then, and remains to this day, a minor force in cricketing terms. It's a part-time amateur sport here.

Yesterday, our cricketers triumphed over the might of England -- the country that invented cricket -- a team full of professional, highly paid stars.

It wasn't enough that Ireland, up against England's star-studded team, were massive underdogs to begin with -- England scored 327 runs in their innings, which by any standards in this form of cricket is a huge total. Had they posted that against another big team like Australia or India, you'd have fancied England to win comfortably.


Half-way through our own innings, Ireland didn't seem to have a chance. We had lost most of our best batsmen, had only scored just over 100 runs, and bookies were offering 400-1 against an Irish victory. The Daily Telegraph's own live on-line commentary sneered that Ireland "were fading faster than an six-minute U2 outro..."

To put it into more recognisable terms, it wasn't just the equivalent of a full strength Manchester United taking on Bray Wanderers in the Champions League. It was akin to Man United leading 4-0 with half-an-hour to go, passing the ball around with aplomb, sniggering as the Bray manager threw on the final substitute, and Bray somehow coming back to win 5-4.

Whatever is the cricketing equivalent of a Roy Of The Rovers fairytale, this was it. The victory was due mostly to the efforts of batsman Kevin O'Brien, a 'Paddy Irishman' straight out of central casting with his shock of red hair, pale freckled skin, and hint of a porter-induced belly.

Coming out to bat in a hopeless position, O'Brien proceeded to play one of the greatest innings ever seen, hitting the fastest 100 ever scored in the World Cup, and dominating the English bowlers with a brutality, indeed contempt, that may well make the British government rethink their generosity in recently lending us €7bn.

Four years ago, in the last World Cup in the West Indies, we beat Pakistan in another remarkable match.

Back then, after the initial euphoria, cricket went back to being what it will always be -- a minority sport. The same will probably happen this time around, too. None of which should diminish the remarkable feat of Kevin O'Brien, Ed Joyce and co, whose victory over England is an extraordinary achievement and has, if only for a moment, given the country something to cheer about. And don't forget -- I taught Ed everything he knows.