Remarkable series of results sees Ireland qualify for World T20 finals

A seven wicket win over Jersey puts and end to recent series of defeats

ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, Malahide Cricket Club, Dublin - Ireland’s Paul Stirling batting Photograph: INPHO/Gary Carr

A quite extraordinary series of results in the final round of Group A games saw Ireland qualify for a fifth straight World Twenty20 finals following the completion of the first stage of the competition in Malahide and Clontarf on Sunday.

Ireland looked after the bit they could control, with a comfortable seven-wicket victory over Jersey, putting an end to a series of defeats to Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong that left John Bracewell’s side facing the long way around to book a place in next year’s finals in India.

John Mooney’s hat-trick, just the fourth by an Ireland player, wrapped up Jersey’s innings for 122 after it had looked to be heading north of 140 after they were well poised on 88 for one in the 14th over.

Paul Stirling got rid of the talented teenager Jonty Jenner for 26 with the first ball of his second over and took a wicket in his remaining two overs to finish with three for 16; Alex Cusack (three for 26) struck twice in an over and Mooney wrapped up the innings with his hat-trick in the final over, Jersey losing nine wickets for 34 runs.


Restored to his opening role, Stirling then took the game to the Jersey attack, hitting 55 from 38 balls before his Middlesex colleague Andrew Balbirnie (32 not out) guided Ireland home with 20 balls to spare.

Stirling - back in tandem with regular opening partner William Porterfield - top scored with an impressive 55 from just 38 balls.

The pugnacious opener struck seven boundaries - many with his trademark power through the covers and square - and one imperious straight six.

Chasing a modest target of 123, Porterfield (17) shared an opening stand of 44 in 29 deliveries with Stirling - surviving a regulation slip chance off Kay when he had made just one.

Kay got his revenge when he induced a false hook shot from the Irish skipper, with Corne Bodenstein holding a difficult chance in the deep.

Andrew Balbirnie joined his Middlesex colleague in the middle and the Dubliner was content to play the anchor role, scoring at a run a ball and rotating the strike.

Their stand of 47 was ended after Ben Stevens (2-20) induced a false stroke from Stirling with the total on 91, but by then the back of the chase had been broken.

Left-armer Stevens trapped a sweeping Kevin O’Brien (8), but there was no further joy for the Channel Islanders as Balbirnie (31*) and Gary Wilson (11*) saw the Irish safely home with 3.2 overs to spare.

George Dockrell (1-26) had provided the initial breakthrough after skipper Peter Gough (42) and Ed Farley (21) had put on 42 for the first wicket.

The wheels however came off the Jersey innings in spectacular fashion in the last five overs as they lost their last eight wickets in the crucial phase while adding just 20 runs.

John Mooney - the leading wicket taker in the tournament with 14 victims - finished the innings in dramatic fashion by taking a hat-trick.

That was the easy part of the equation, with Ireland then requiring the USA to beat Papua New Guinea in the later game in Malahide and Hong Kong to continue their fine form and beat Namibia in Clontarf.

Hong Kong went and walloped 197 for eight at Castle Avenue, opener Irfan Ahmed hitting a stunning 98 from 55 balls to set up a comfortable 83-run win, while USA’s 147 for six proved too much for PNG, who could only muster 129 for nine.

Despite victory, the USA bow out due to Hong Kong also winning, with Tuesday’s qualifying play-offs in Malahide seeing Hong Kong take on Afghanistan and Netherlands facing Namibia.

Ireland are next in action in Saturday’s semi-finals in Malahide, where they will play the winners of the Netherlands v Namibia game.