SHANE GETKATE will cap a remarkable return to health by spearheading Ireland's bid to reach the U-19 World Cup finals when the 10-nation qualifying tournament gets under way today in and around Dublin.
The former Malahide all-rounder will run in off only a few paces against the USA at Clontarf, but to be bowling at all is an extraordinary achievement barely a month after he collapsed on the field while playing for Warwickshire U-19s in Solihull.
Getkate, who now plays his club cricket for North County, spent 14 nights in hospital following the incident on June 21.
Happily, he recovered sufficiently to play in both of Ireland's warm-up victories against Scotland earlier this week.
The star of those two wins was U-19 captain George Dockrell, the Leinster left-arm spinner, who took five wickets on Monday and followed up with 62 not out the following day.
Dockrell, who boasts 46 full Ireland caps after being called into the senior squad during the last U-19 World Cup 18 months ago, should have little trouble in steering his side into the finals.
The top six of the 10 teams competing in the round-robin series, which moves up to Derry and the north west next week, will progress to the World Cup.
The eventual qualifiers from Ireland, Scotland, USA, Canada, Afghanistan, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Kenya and Namibia will join the 10 Test-playing nations at the biennial tournament, to be held in northern Australia next July.