Ireland’s One-Day International summer ended on a high at Stormont on Sunday, William Porterfield’s side disposing of Scotland in clinical fashion by seven wickets in their final Pepsi World Cricket League match.
Chasing a target of just 166, there was none of the drama of Friday’s thrilling last-over finish, Ireland completing the formalities with fully 17 overs to spare as Niall O’Brien and Gary Wilson compiled an unbeaten stand of 75 for the fourth wicket.
With a place in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand already assured and the World Cricket League trophy being presented at the close irrespective of the outcome, it was a low-key finale, especially with the Scots having nothing tangible to gain after they blew their automatic qualification hopes on Friday.
However, there was plenty at stake for individuals and the battle to replace Trent Johnston in Ireland’s seam-bowling attack began in earnest, with new boys Stuart Thompson and Eddie Richardson both meriting positive comments in the notebook of coach Phil Simmons.
There was no home swansong in Irish colours for Johnston, with the 39-year-old’s Achilles problem forcing his withdrawal. However, his absence allowed Thompson in particular to stake a commanding claim on his ODI debut.
The Eglinton all-rounder is rated highly by the Irish management and he underlined why on his way to taking two Scottish wickets at a cost of just 23 runs.
Much of the Scots innings was painstaking viewing with the fifth-wicket pair of Richie Berrington (35) and Callum MacLeod (39) taking more than 20 overs to complete a partnership of 58. Kevin O’Brien (3-31) started the Scottish slide by removing Berrington and from 127 for four in the 42nd over they lost their last six wickets for just 48 to finish all out in the final over for 165.
Iain Wardlaw, the Scots’ best cricketer, gave them a flicker of hope, bowling Porterfield with a beauty in the third over of the Irish reply.
Paul Stirling, after two crisp boundaries, followed four overs later, feathering an attempted hook off Wardlaw.
At 22 for two the Scots had a semblance of a chance but Ed Joyce (39) batted beautifully during a 63-run stand for the third wicket with Niall O’Brien.
It was a surprise when the Sussex batsman was eventually bowled by Majid Haq but at least that allowed Gary Wilson some valuable time in the middle. The Surrey wicketkeeper has had a quiet summer with the bat for Ireland despite his county successes, but he was in fine touch once he settled.
Successive boundaries through long-on off Haq underlined his attacking intent and the straight six back over Wardlaw’s head was as good a shot as the crowd were treated to all day.
Wilson finished unbeaten on 35 from 53 balls and O’Brien, who struck nine boundaries, was 65 from 70.