Niall O'Brien gets a chance to retrace glory steps
NIALL O'BRIEN has been handed a return ticket to the scene of one his greatest triumphs when Ireland travel to Namibia for the second match of their ICC InterContinental Cup defence later this year.
Ten years ago, the 33-year-old wicketkeeper scored an unbeaten century as Ireland recorded a six-wicket victory over Kenya to win the IC Cup for the first time in Windhoek.
After Andrew White announced his retirement last week, O'Brien is the sole survivor of that 2005 team.
While the ICC World Cup may be more glamorous, it is the IC Cup that offers its eight participants the chance to become a Test-playing nation.
The final round of seven IC Cup games will be played simultaneously at the same venue in late 2017 - probably the UAE - with the winners granted a home and away series against the lowest ranking Test side to determine whether they are allowed to join the game's elite.
Ireland's other match this year is a home fixture against the UAE.
Hong Kong will provide the home opposition next year, and the Netherlands in 2017, while the Boys in Green travel to face Papua New Guinea and Afghanistan, probably at neutral venues, before a final clash with Scotland.
The draw could not have been kinder to Ireland.