Cricket: Stirling ton as Ireland sign off with a win
Paul Stirling's scintillating century inspired Ireland to a morale-boosting end to their World Cup campaign with a six-wicket win against Holland in Kolkata today.
Chasing an imposing 307 in the Group B dead-rubber tie, Stirling's 101 off just 72 balls - his second ODI hundred - and captain William Porterfield's 68 off 93 balls led the way in a 177-run opening stand.
Holland had pegged them back with three quick wickets but the initial momentum was enough for Niall O'Brien to notch a patient 57 not out and help seal the win with 14 balls left.
Ireland may have missed out on qualification to the knock-out stages but today's victory - their second of the tournament - sees them avoid the ignominy of propping up the table.
Earlier, Stirling had contributed with the ball as well, picking up two Dutch wickets, but overall loose bowling meant Ryan Ten Doeschate was able to make 106 off 108 balls, along with his captain Peter Borren's quickfire 84, to ensure a positive innings for Holland.
Both sides suffered injury blows early on in the day with Holland's Wesley Barresi struck on the head by a return throw in the first over while spinner George Dockrell was forced off permanently after hurting his shoulder.
Ireland had reason for optimism as Eric Szwarczynski (one) and Tom Cooper (five) departed in quick succession before Barresi's temporary absence.
He did, however, return to help the recovery after Alexei Kervezee's (12) dismissal and kept a cool head for his 44 while Ten Doeschate's World Cup form was again on display as he struck seven boundaries to reach his half-century.
The duo put Holland in cruise control with their 60-run stand, and Ten Doeschate then put on 121 with Borren after Barresi was trapped lbw for 44 by Stirling.
Ten Doeschate's attempts at cutting loose after crossing his 100 cost him his wicket but Borren and Atse Buurman (26) added 53 in just seven overs to take Holland past 300, before four successive run-outs wrapped up the Dutch tail.
In reply, Ireland raced away to 81 without loss in the mandatory powerplay as Stirling took all of 25 deliveries to bring up his half-century.
And he refused to ease up on the tempo, smashing 14 boundaries and two sixes in total to power his way to a century off just 70 deliveries.
Skipper Porterfield, meanwhile, survived being dropped twice - before and after reaching his 50 - but could not build much as he was caught behind by Buurman off Cooper.
A slightly rejuvenated Holland then snared the big wicket of Stirling in the next over through Pieter Seelaar, and while Ed Joyce and Niall O' Brien steadied things quickly to put on 54, Joyce departed for 28 to leave a few nervy faces in the Irish camp.
But despite the late fall of Gary Wilson (27), O'Brien's gutsy hitting soon put paid to all concerns as younger brother Kevin helped take their side across the line with a six.