Ireland have been handed a New Year boost after it weas confirmed they will play two One-Day Internationals against Sri Lanka.
Both games will take place at Clontarf on Tuesday and Thursday, May 6 and 8.
Ireland coach Phil Simmons believes the fixtures will be great spectacles for local cricket fans.
“It’s great news for both the team and supporters,” said Simmons, who by coincidence flew out to Sri Lanka on Wednesday with the Ireland A squad on a two week tour.
“Ireland need as many matches as possible against Full Member sides. It’s how we measure ourselves now in terms of our cricketing progress.
“We’ll be gearing our preparation towards the 2015 World Cup, and this series is ideal. 2013 couldn’t have gone much better in terms of the fact that we won three trophies and continued our domination against our fellow Associates.
“We did, however, miss opportunities to claim victories against both Pakistan and England when in strong positions.
“We’ll be looking to take our cricket to the next level in 2014 by winning from these type of situations, pressing home our advantage when we’re on top.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for our squad to face players of the calibre of Kumar Sangakkara, Angelo Matthews, Tillakaratne Dilshan and of course Lasith Malinga. They’re going to be tough opposition but Irish conditions in May will be to our advantage.”
Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland Chief Executive, added: “We are most grateful to Sri Lanka Cricket for giving us this opportunity.
“It is clear to all in the game that our performances against the Full Members are becoming increasingly competitive in all formats, and this is another opportunity for us to convert strong match positions into ranking points. Along with our series in the Caribbean and the World T20 this is a strong start to the year and, win or lose, another chance to demonstrate that we belong at this level.”
It will be only the second visit of a Sri Lankan side to Irish shores – the previous occasion was at Eglinton in 1979 when Ivan Anderson’s century helped Ireland secure a draw in the first-class match.
In more recent times Ireland lost their only ODI encounter by eight wickets in the 2007 World Cup, a game which marked the end of Adi Birrell’s tenure as Ireland coach.
The teams met again in a thrilling game at Lord’s during the 2009 ICC World Twenty20, when Ireland lost by just nine runs to the eventual finalists.
Ireland are in action later this month when they tour the West Indies before they take part in the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh in March.