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Irish hope Morgan doesn't continue to haunt them

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Eoin Morgan. Photo: Getty Images

Eoin Morgan. Photo: Getty Images

AFP via Getty Images

Eoin Morgan. Photo: Getty Images

Andy Balbirnie says he is excited to be going toe-to-toe with world champions England at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton today, in the first of a three-match series, but the Ireland skipper should be wary of his familiar-sounding opposite number delivering the knock-out blow.

World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan grew up in Rush and made 63 appearances for the Boys in Green, including his debut as a 16-year-old, but he has been nothing but a thorn in Ireland's side since declaring for England in 2009.

In his first appearance as a substitute fielder for England, the Fingal man denied Trent Johnston a match-winning six in Belfast, then top-scored with 45 at the 2010 World T20 when his new colleagues were all struggling against the Ireland attack.

But Morgan's most notorious effort was his first game as captain in 2013, when he told a press conference at Malahide that Paul Stirling should follow his path into the England team and then scored an unbeaten century to win man of the match in front of record Irish crowd of 10,000.

Lifting the World Cup last July does not seem to have dulled Morgan's ambition to achieve in the game that saw him, as a 14-year-old, tell then Ireland coach Adi Birrell that he didn't know how long he could commit to the country of his birth as he was aiming to play for England.

The 33-year-old has set his sights on defending the World Cup in India in 2023 but he isn't writing off Ireland in this series, which is the first to be played in the new 13-team ICC Super League.

"Ireland will be very much up for it given the limited fixtures they have, and having two sides pull out of tours this summer. They will be looking to cause an upset," he said.

"The most important thing for Irish cricket is playing as many fixtures as they can. If you have a group of young, talented players you can't just have them sitting on the sidelines. It's great that they are getting more and more games."

If those same opportunities had been there 10 years ago is it possible that Morgan wouldn't have crossed the Irish Sea and if that hadn't happened, would England now be world champions?

Probably not, as the financial advantages are still massively in favour of the big boys and their resources will see them fielding an entirely different team from the one that clinched a 2-1 Test series victory against the West Indies.

Ireland, on the other hand, need to cast their net wide in the search for talent and are likely to given a debut to Curtis Campher, a 20-year-old South African with a grandmother from Derry.

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Irish Independent