10,000 go to bat for cricket fest

by Stephen Findlater

MALAHIDE’S prodigal son Eoin Morgan hailed last Tuesday’s first one-day international at cricket’s new headquarters as an “incredible day for Irish cricket” as over 10,000 fans thronged the village.

It was a day filled with sub-plots but ultimately ended with a bang from Morgan, returning to the club where he starred just over a decade ago, winning the 2002 Irish Senior Cup.

This time around, his six provided an emphatic end to a devastating innings, scoring 124 off just 106 balls, in a record-breaking fifth wicket partnership with Ravi Bopara of 226.

It helped his adopted England run up a six-wicket victory in surprisingly comfortable fashion after Ireland had threatened to produce a shock result to suitably mark the opening of a new era in Irish cricket.

It was the culmination of a wealth of work from Malahide cricket club, developing their grounds to increase the capacity of crowd for games in Ireland.

They were awarded the hosting of this tie in June 2012 and, in recent weeks, built the stands and surrounding facilities to make sure the occasion was open to as many spectators to enjoy. It meant the biggest crowd for a one-day international in Irish cricket history with under a couple of hundred tickets available on the gate. They witnessed another former Irish player, Boyd Rankin, make early inroads into the Irish line-up on his English debut. Notably, he was credited with dismissing Ed Joyce – who formerly played for England, adding to cricket’s confused idea of nationality – in bizarre fashion, out hit wicket.

Irish skipper William Porterfield fought back, making his first century of 2013 to help lift the hosts to a competitive tally of 269.

And Ireland were well and truly on top when they removed England’s top four with less than 50 on the board. But Morgan and Bopara both hit unbeaten tons to swiftly swing the game England’s way, clearing the target with seven overs to spare.

Speaking afterwards, man of the match Morgan paid tribute to the work that had gone into creating the venue and the atmosphere in the village.

“It was an amazing day,” said Morgan. “I’ve won trophies here with this club and it was fantastic to be back here and winning in this way.

“Congratulations to Cricket Ireland for a successful day.

“Today I felt I was pretty good. I was more nervous in the changing-room than I was in the middle.

“The wicket was tough and challenging. It was a challenge with ball and bat.”

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