Sunday 18 February 2018

Mooney eyes Player of the Tournament gong

John Mooney
John Mooney


John Mooney can put the cap on a series of outstanding performances this weekend not only by helping Ireland to retain the World T20 qualifying trophy but also by being named player of the tournament.

Mooney had caught the eye with his late-order hitting - too late in the order for some observers - and aggressive bowling long before he wrapped up the Jersey innings on Sunday to become only the fourth man to take a hat-trick for Ireland.

He will fire himself up for another blood-and-thunder effort against the Netherlands at Malahide this afternoon.

He has an advantage over his team-mates in that he missed Ireland's nightmare defeat by the Dutch at last year's World T20 finals.

With a place in the main tournament at stake, Ireland failed to defend a decent total of 189-4 as the Netherlands' multinational batting force stormed to a seven-wicket win in only 13.5 overs.

Mooney (above) was down to bat at No 6 against Jersey, had he been needed, and could retain his promotion today as new coach John Bracewell tries to settle on his best order.

An apparent knee injury may again sideline Niall O'Brien, so Bracewell is likely to revert to the successful opening pairing of Paul Stirling and William Porterfield, after experimenting with the skipper at No 3.

There could also be another chance for Merrion all-rounder Tyrone Kane, who hasn't had the best of tournaments, after impressing on his debut against Scotland last month.

If Ireland get past the Netherlands, Kane could be facing Scotland again in the final at Malahide tomorrow or Hong Kong. Such are the vagaries of T20, though, nothing is predictable. Every team in the tournament has lost at least two games.

If Ireland lose today, they face a third-place play-off, to be played as a curtain-raiser to the final.

Cricket Leinster are under fire for scheduling a full league programme tomorrow after successive free Saturdays - Ireland were not playing last week.

Malahide opener Fintan McAllister, for one, is not happy. The former international, whose side are away to Merrion, said: "I would love to have been around to support the boys. It's a strange decision."

Champions YMCA know it is virtually win or bust for their title defence when they travel to leaders North County.

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