The stadium in Malahide looked spectacular, and the new home of Irish cricket looked very worthy of the nickname "Fortress Malahide". This was to be the start of one era and the end of another, as it was also Trent Johnston's final appearance on Irish soil. When England won the toss and fielded, Will Porterfield and Paul Stirling set about putting the visitors on the back foot. Two crisp cover-drives off the no-longer-Irish Rankin zoomed to the boundary, before the Derry-born paceman had the last laugh. Ed Joyce quickly followed after stepping on his stumps during a back-foot drive, and the Irish were looking a little shaky.
Niall O'Brien, the first of four Irishmen to post scores between twenty and thirty, hung around and worked with his captain to re-build. Porterfield, who has been without so much as a half-century in the County Championship for Warwickshire finally found his timing on his way to his sixth and best ODI century for Ireland. However, he lost momentum in the 80s, and when he too fell to Rankin, Ireland had something of a wobble on at 229 for 7 with only four-and-a-bit overs left. Thankfully, Max Sorensen was able to take advantage of some frankly village death bowling, and the bizarre choice of Morgan not to give Boyd Rankin his final over, to swat the Irish to a highly respectable 269.
When two Irishmen score centuries in an ODI, you expect Ireland to win, really.
Eoin Morgan is widely regarded as the pick of the Irish batsmen, which is no doubt why he has gone to play for England. He and Ravi Bopara subjected the Irish bowling to a masterclass of one-day batting, as each played the best innings of their respective career, and each finished with an unbeaten century to their name. The unbeaten fifth wicket stand was a world record for all ODIs, and made the result a lot more one-sided than the story of the game.
And yet again, even the England victory proved what I have been saying about Irish cricket. They can compete against Full Member sides, even when their best players are playing for the opposition. My solution of Test status and special dispensations, should they want them, for Eoin Morgan and Boyd Rankin, would make Ireland a very respectable side. After all, Ireland were only really beaten today thanks to the fightbacks from two Irishmen, and that's not how it should be.