PAUL STIRLING scored his fourth international century of the year yesterday to put Ireland firmly in control of their InterContinental Cup qualifier against Canada.
The 21-year-old opener struck two sixes and 18 fours in a 107, while Gary Wilson, Alex Cusack and Kevin O' Brien weighed in with half-centuries to take Ireland to 435-7 following the first day of four at Rathmines.
After attending the International Cricket Council awards dinner in London on Monday night with skipper O'Brien and catching a dawn flight to Dublin, Stirling showed no signs of tiredness as he got under way with a glorious cover drive for four.
Ireland's openers remained unbeaten by lunch, before Wilson was lbw for a solid 61.
Stirling, who lost the original match ball with the first of his two pulled sixes, went to his century with a cut through point, but when he was bowled, aiming a sweep at his 122nd delivery, Ireland suffered a mini collapse from 185-1 to 234-4.
Cusack held firm, though, and O'Brien muscled 12 fours and a six in a powerful 79 from 59 balls before he was caught on the long off boundary aiming for what would have been his 100th six for Ireland.
Cusack also missed out on a century when, on 81, he top-edged the first delivery with the official new ball, but John Mooney and Stuart Poynter eased the home side past 400.
Poynter, who was bowled second ball on his debut against Namibia last week, scored 31, while Mooney and George Dockrell will look to push toward 500 in the first session today.