Ireland face a tough test against Finland in Castleknock

Ireland’s Colin O’Brien who will be up against fromer world number 13 Jarkko Nieminen from Finland in the Davis Cup clash at Castleknock. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Ireland’s Colin O’Brien who will be up against fromer world number 13 Jarkko Nieminen from Finland in the Davis Cup clash at Castleknock. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Fri, Apr 5, 2013, 07:00

Ireland begin their Euro Africa Zone Group 11 tie today against Finland with Castleknock Tennis Club hosting the event for the first time. The star attraction on the Finish team is current world number 47 Jarkko Nieminen who has been ranked as high as 13 in the world.

Nieminen plays Colin O’Brien today in the second rubber. It is a great moment for O’Brien who is playing his first Davis Cup tie in four years having missed the last two seasons through injury. He faces a huge challenge against a player who has reached the quarter-finals of three of the four Grand Slams.

James McGee, who is at a career high ranking of 276, will expect to win the opening rubber of the tie against Harri Heliovaara who is ranked 694 in the world. McGee described the opportunity to play in his home club as “a dream come through”.

The doubles on Saturday could be the crucial rubber when McGee and Sam Barry play Nieminen and Henri Kontinen. The Irish pair won a crucial five-set doubles match in Ireland’s 3-2 victory over Estonia in February.

“Obviously with Nieminen on their team, Finland are the favourites on paper. But we have prepared well and are excited about starting the tie,” said Irish captain Gary Cahill.