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Upset of the century

IRELAND'S cricketers are the Slumdog Millionaires of the Cricket World Cup.

After climbing from the bottom of the cricketing world, Ireland's heroes have made headlines across India by beating the Imperialists England. Now Ireland's team of electricians and barmen are set to be snapped up by the Indian Premier League, the richest cricket competition in the world.

Centurion Kevin O'Brien, who smashed his way into the top ranks of the world's batsmen with his ton, is expected to be fielding offers from the highly lucrative IPL in the coming days.

But before all that, next stop for Ireland's World Cup heroes is the host nation itself, and superstar batsman Sachin Tendulkar.

"They are gods over here, but we now have great belief," O'Brien told the Herald today, after a night of huge celebrations at the ITC Royal Gardenia hotel in Bangalore.


There may be only just a few hundred supporters in Bangalore, but they are making themselves heard in this city of eight million.

"We couldn't pay for anything this morning," said Sandymount's Railway Union member Elaine Coburn. "The rickshaw drivers wouldn't take a penny and the coffee shops were delighted to see us and wouldn't charge!"

"I am so happy for the Irish -- our eyes are smiling too," said student Gitika.

"We will even cheer for Ireland against India."

The shopkeepers on Cunningham Road and Longford Road were flying tricolours and proud to highlight the long dead Irishmen whose names adorn their signs.

Some locals turned their own green, white and orange flags on its side to make a temporary Irish flag.

Ireland's next game is against the tournament hosts in this south Indian city next Sunday.

The M Chinnaswamy Stadium will be packed to the rafters with almost 40,000 fans and their stars will not be taking Ireland lightly.

Already some Irish fans are planning to make the trip out here and delighted team sponsors RSA have offered practical support.

The heroes in green partied till dawn in the luxurious ITC Royal Gardenia, where the staff have become firm fans.

"It was lovely after we got back," Ireland's biggest star Kevin O'Brien told the Herald as he slowly came down to earth.

"The hotel had a bottle of champagne for us all at reception and a huge cake for me with "113" written on it hazelnuts."

The team enjoyed their celebrations, which included several of their defeated opponents.

"We saw Andrew Strauss going upstairs so we sang Happy Birthday to him," said Niall O'Brien. (It was the England captain's 34th birthday yesterday.)

"Fair play to him, he came down to the party with Paul Collingwood and Matt Prior and they had a few drinks with us."

The Indian newspapers were delighted with the result, using the excuse to hammer England.

"England sham, Ireland rocks," screamed the front page of the Deccan Chronicle.