Ireland 173 for 3 (O'Brien 56*) beat Scotland 172 (Leask 50, Young 5-46) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The fine margins between success and failure in sport, and cricket in particular, are often defined by the tenacity to grasp an opportunity when one comes about. Certainly Craig Young, the fast bowler released by Sussex twelve months ago, chose a good moment to become just the ninth player to take a five-wicket haul on ODI debut as he stole a march in the race to make the plane for Australia and New Zealand.
Young's growth into a new-ball bowler with an uncomplicated action is timely for Phil Simmons and the Ireland selectors, five months out from the start of the World Cup. Boyd Rankin's decision to decamp and the retirement of Trent Johnston had left Ireland's fast-bowling ranks drained, the latter's shoes, in particular, proving too big to fill. Now, Ireland have a genuine heir apparent.
A spate of injuries and fluctuating form had threatened Young's undoubted potential - Sussex certainly thought so - but when it would have been easy to lose heart, the 24-year-old went away and returned to basics. An intense winter spent in Australia under the tutelage of Craig McDermott is reaping dividends. Figures of 5 for 46 were the eighth best return for a debutant in ODIs.
A hostile spell, during which he extracted considerable movement and bounce, broke the back of Scotland as the visitors lost wickets at regular intervals despite run-scoring proving easier than the mid-September conditions may have suggested. Michael Leask's maiden fifty apart, none of Grant Bradburn's top order were able to show the application required to build a foundation upon which their bowlers could mount an attack; the absence of Kyle Coetzer and Matt Machan was certainly felt.
Yet, this was by no means Ireland's strongest hand either. George Dockrell would have hoped to get some overs under his belt after falling out of favour at Somerset but was forced to fulfil 12th man duties because of a niggling shoulder injury. The difference between the sides lies in the strength in depth. Andy McBrine, deployed as the frontline spinner, belied his relative inexperience to apply a stranglehold in the middle overs and did his chances of World Cup inclusion no harm with two wickets.
For a long-standing rivalry reputedly fraught with neighbourly hostility, there has been much friction between the two sides of late. Scotland have now lost all four of their ODIs on Irish soil and 11 of their last 12 limited-overs meetings. While a humbling seven-wicket reversal did little to instil confidence ahead of a busy period of World Cup preliminaries, Ireland were, as is so often the case, ruthlessly efficient.
An unbeaten half-century from Kevin O'Brien underpinned a leisurely chase as the Irish batsmen negated the early movement to quash any hope Scotland had of exposing an inexperienced middle order. O'Brien passed the landmark of 2000 ODI runs with an innings of consummate quality that underlined his importance to Ireland's cause come February. In putting on an undefeated stand of 80 with Stuart Thompson, he ensured Ireland coasted to victory with 14 overs to spare.
The limelight was not to be taken away from Young though. A nervy start was punished by Calum MacLeod, who hinted at the form that has seen him make an impression at Durham this summer with a couple of crisp strokes through the off side, but Young returned a couple of overs later to settle into his rhythm.
Tall and well-built, he approaches the crease with a sense of purpose and seemed to catch both Hamish Gardiner and Preston Mommsen unaware with deliveries that got on to them a lot quicker than expected. Mommsen was left particularly bemused as a sharp delivery that pitched on middle, swung and then nipped away, managed to pierce his defences and clip the top of off stump.
Leask provided some temporary resistance. On just his fourth ODI appearance, the 23-year-old showed maturity beyond his years to add a sense of stability to an otherwise abject Scottish batting display that was on the brink of submersion at 101 for 7 when Freddie Coleman was strangled down the leg side by Thompson's first delivery. A 54-run partnership between Leask and Safyaan Sharif halted Ireland's charge and added a semblance of respectability to Scotland's effort. It was too little, too late though. It was fitting that Young returned to round off proceedings and complete his five-wicket haul to cap a performance that will surely see his name pencilled into Simmons' World Cup squad.