Saturday 16 December 2017

Blarney Army face 6,172-mile World Cup trek

Phil Simmons', left, Ireland host Pakistan in a two-match series in Dublin, which begins on Thursday
Phil Simmons', left, Ireland host Pakistan in a two-match series in Dublin, which begins on Thursday


IRELAND received a favourable draw when the schedule for the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand was announced but fans reacted with anger and dismay at the travel involved.

While Phil Simmons' team will contest the weaker of the two groups, along with India, Pakistan, South Africa, the West Indies, Zimbabwe and an Associate qualifier, the distances between venues will be enormous.

Any member of the Blarney Army wishing to see all six of Ireland's group games will have to travel 6,172 miles and cross the Tasman Sea twice – after flying halfway around the world.

Playing in venues in Nelson, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Hamilton and Adelaide also means that Ireland have been kept away from cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, where there are traditionally large ex-pat communities.

"They didn't want us in their World Cup and now they are doing everything to stop us supporting the team," one fan complained. "Why couldn't they have had Ireland versus India in Sydney, for example, where you would have got a massive crowd, both sides supported in numbers and a great atmosphere?"

"I just can't believe that schedule," said another supporter. "It will cost an absolute arm and a leg, and with all the Irish in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne the ICC wouldn't give us a game in any of them."

Meanwhile, the Ireland women's team play off against the Netherlands at Claremont Road this afternoon for a place in next year's World T20 finals.

GROUP A: Australia, New Zealand, England, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Qualifier 2, Qualifier 3.

GROUP B: India, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Qualifier 4.

Ireland schedule: Feb 16 v West Indies, Nelson, NZ; Feb 25 v Qualifier, Brisbane; Mar 3 v South Africa, Canberra; Mar 7 v Zimbabwe, Hobart; Mar 10 v India, Hamilton, NZ; Mar 15 v Pakistan, Adelaide.

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