World Cup: ‘Blarney Army’ sure to be no pushovers

Ireland's Andy McBrine, second right, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Zimbabwe's Sean Williams during their ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup match against Zimbabwe in Sylhet, Bangladesh, Monday, March 17, 2014.
Ireland's Andy McBrine, second right, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Zimbabwe's Sean Williams during their ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup match against Zimbabwe in Sylhet, Bangladesh, Monday, March 17, 2014.
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For Ireland, gone are the days of simply trying to take a scalp at major tournaments – the ‘Blarney Army’ are out to establish themselves on the big stage for the long term.

World Cup wins over Pakistan in 2007 and England four years later showed the ability in Ireland’s team, with the former also helping them through to the Super Eight stage.

They missed out on the quarter-finals in 2011 but making it through Pool B is the bare minimum of their ambitions this time in Australia and New Zealand.

“I think the coach (Phil Simmons) would be disappointed if he heard me just talking about getting through the group,” said veteran batsman Niall O’Brien.

“That’s the first objective of any side and it’s not going to be easy but we know what we need to do, and the teams we need to beat. That’s the first hurdle and then once you get to the knock-out stages, anything can happen.

“We’ve got players who can win matches for us all through the side so we’ve got confidence that if we get to the knock-out stages, we can take it a little bit further.’’

The United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe represent obvious targets for Simmons’s side, who will also hope to catch Pakistan or the West Indies on an off day.

Much-fancied India and South Africa complete the group.

Ireland’s squad features six World Cup debutants – including Max Sorensen, whose late call-up in place of the injured Tim Murtagh provided evidence of their increased strength in depth.

“Max was very unlucky to get left out in the first place,” said O’Brien. “He had a bad injury just before the tour to Australia and in fairness the young guys put their hands up, took some wickets and forced the hand of the selectors.

“It’s disappointing for us to lose Tim, he brings us experience and control with the ball and we’ll certainly miss him, but Max comes back in and he’ll feel he has a point to prove to the selectors.”