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Why anything is possible after that sensational win

"Ajai Chopra, IMF, Anglo bondholders, Olli Rehn, European Central Bank, Nicolas Sarkozy... your boys took a hell of a beating!! A hell of a beating!!"

Just when the country's morale is at its lowest ebb, along come a bunch of Irish heroes to lift our spirits and drive us all delirious with excitement. Who knows, maybe we really are a race of superhumans after all.

Certainly anyone who watched Kevin O'Brien's heroic display in India will believe that everything is possible. Now we know why that place is called Bang Galore.


Beating cricket superpower England at their own game is enough to make you believe in miracles.

Today cricket. Tomorrow the economy.

It's been said a few times since Wednesday, but it was a bit like this in 1988 when our footballers went to Stuttgart to play England in the European Championships.

Only hardcore soccer supporters were paying attention. Ireland were underdogs then too.

But when Ray Houghton headed the ball past goalkeeper Peter Shilton a new era dawned. An age of possibility. A golden age. When to be Irish meant you could never be beaten.

That was before Bertie Ahern, Charlie McCreevy and a bunch of venal carpetbagging bankers proved they had other ideas.

This week, as we all struggle to clean up their mess, our cricket team carried the green flag onto the world stage and proceeded to send positive shockwaves around the globe.


Beating England by three wickets is a major triumph. But the manner of our victory wasn't just exceptional. It was sensational. No money could buy a PR initiative as powerful as this.

Ireland's position in world cricket is so lowly that England can pilfer our star players for their national team.

No one blames these young athletes for donning the England shirt. Five-day Test cricket is what every cricketer wants to play. Ireland isn't in that league. Yet.

Perhaps, with Ireland's Eoin Morgan in the England ranks (though injured), our team wasn't considered much of a threat. When England scored 327 runs, Ireland faced the highest run race in the history of the World Cup. Most pundits reckoned it was Mission Impossible.

When our first five batsmen were dismissed for 111, an England victory seemed assured.

"We expected Ireland to be 200 all out," says former England captain Michael Vaughan.

Instead, Ireland's remaining batsmen played a blinder. Kevin O'Brien scored the fastest 100 in World Cup history. His teammates also played their part. Everyone made an important contribution.

Ireland played with style and assurance. And England's composure began to unravel. It was not a pretty sight. Unless you were wearing green.

In the last World Cup, Ireland caused a major upset by beating Pakistan.

Following that tournament, former West Indies international Phil Simmons took over as coach. Soon after he arrived in Ireland, I sat with him in the Russell Court Hotel (the new social hub of Irish cricket) and discussed his plans for the future.

Simmons carries his authority with an easy grace. He felt that he could help improve the players' individual skills and also develop a tough competitive streak in the side.

With more Irish players gaining experience of county cricket in England, the Ireland coach has been fashioning a team that knows no fear.


Wednesday's remarkable display has woken the cricket world up to the latent talent in the Ireland squad.

"We're definitely not one-hit wonders," vows all-rounder John Mooney. "We're a good side and we're here to win."

If this team lives up to the players' expectations it won't belong before we hear the old song again. "You'll never beat the Irish!!"

Let's hope Olli Rehn is listening.