March 3, 2011

World Cup 2011

Ireland bask in the attention

Sharda Ugra
Kevin O'Brien is the centre of attention on arriving at the team hotel, England v Ireland, World Cup 2011, Bangalore, March 2, 2011
Kevin O'Brien was the centre of attraction after his record-breaking century  © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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Irish eyes are not smiling. That would be too sedate for a country whose cricket team is not shy of wearing pink and purple hair. They are grinning, they are beaming and for a day, they cannot be stopped. This includes all those involved in, witness to and following at a distance the greatest moment in Ireland's cricketing history at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday night.

Radio and television stations and other diversions kept the team and management awake after the victory over England at the World Cup. Kevin O'Brien went to bed at about 4am on Thursday, but there were reports that many were up until dawn - no doubt doing interviews. Messages poured in as quickly and copiously as the Guinness may have a thousand miles away, with the country's president, the heads of the Northern Ireland government in Belfast and the Irish Rugby Football Union among others, in sending on a chorus of "sláinte" (cheers). The IRFU even put up Kevin O'Brien's photograph on their home page.

Many of the greats of Irish sport got through to William Porterfield's team, including legendary rugby captain Brian O'Driscoll and footballer Ronnie Whelan. Niall O'Brien, the only one among the team sporting dark glasses this morning said they had been saluted by many rugby players whom he described as, "they are like the Dhonis and Sachin out there for Ireland."

What about the most famous Irishman in the whole world? Rockstar, international philanthropist, debt-buster Bono? Maybe it was too early, only 7am in Dublin was one reason offered when the query was first made around noon. Kevin O'Brien lining up to do his nth radio interview said he didn't know if Bono was that much of a cricket fan. John Mooney, beamed, "I'll be waiting for that message." About Irish cricket at least, it can't be said that Bono still hasn't found what he was looking for. Paul, laddie, your move.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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