IRELAND are heading for the Plate competition of the U-19 World Cup after their dreams of upsetting cricket's big boys were dashed by Australia yesterday.
While a crushing victory margin of 209 runs was a shade harsh, there was no escaping the gulf in class between the teams as Ireland were skittled for a dismal 65 in 24.2 overs.
Following their opening five-wicket loss to South Africa, the best they can hope for is ninth ranking of the 16 teams in the tournament, and that is a realistic goal if his side can recover quickly from this drubbing -- starting with tomorrow's game against the USA.
Ireland need to it win to finish third in Group B and get an easier opponent in the first round of the Plate.
There were some positives in the field. Jordan Coghlan, who replaced the struggling Shane Getkate, bowled a fine opening spell and but for a fumbled run-out chance, Australia would have been 115-5 and in some trouble.
In a pre-tournament session with the Irish squad, New Zealand superstar Shane Bond had talked of 'getting a sniff' of an opening, and there it was, the ball after Graham McDonnell had run out Jason Floris with a direct hit from midwicket.
But George Dockrell failed to gather a return from the deep at the bowler's end, and Tim Armstrong survived. Armstrong had not faced a ball at that stage, but went on to make 73 not out. His 115-run fifth-wicket partnership with Alex Keath took Australia towards 274-5 from 50 overs.
Coghlan, who plays for Clontarf, was rewarded with two wickets and can be happy with his day's work despite taking some stick in the final overs; Craig Young's eight overs were far better than figures of 0- 50 would suggest.
The contest was effectively over within 12 deliveries of the reply when Andy Balbirnie was adjudged leg-before and key man Paul Stirling chopped the first ball he received into his stumps.
It soon became clear that Ireland's batsmen were ill-equipped to cope with the pace and accuracy of the Australian seamers, although Stuart Thompson battled gamely for a top score of 19.
Ben Ackland and Lee Nelson, unable to repeat their wonderful repair job against South Africa, were blown away by Nick Buchanan, and to sum up Ireland's misery, Adrian D'Arcy connected with meaty reverse sweep only to be caught by the one man behind square.
At Queenstown -- (Ireland won toss) AUSTRALIA 274-5 (50 overs, A Keath 88, T Armstrong 73no, T Beaton 53, G Dockrell 2-38, J Coghlan 2-62) beat IRELAND 65 (24.2 over, N Buchanan 4-16) by 209 runs.