Let's be honest, it could have been a lot worse. At 28 for 5, Ireland were in record low total territory but they battled and scraped their way up to 172 - thanks in large part to the impressive debutant
Curtis Campher - and then gave England something to worry about in the chase, albeit that Sam Billings
and England's captain, Eoin Morgan
, saw them home pretty comfortably in the end.
Morgan, not for the first time
, finished Ireland off with a six, extending an impressive personal record against his former side (he averages 76.25
from six encounters). Probably more pleasing, however, was the performance of Billings, who stepped up in the absence of several first-choice batsmen to produce his highest ODI score some five years after his debut, as well as a stirring comeback
from David Willey after last year's World Cup disappointment.
England's white-ball revolution has reached the stage where even a depleted side still comes with a formidable aura. Billings, who was there at the start against New Zealand in 2015
, is still trying to prove himself worth a consistent run, while the likes of Sam Hain, Phil Salt and Liam Livingstone prowl with the Lions; James Vince, too, though a flashy 25 in the first ODI was symptomatic of his problems in kicking on. Tom Banton looked scratchy in an unfamiliar role at No. 4, and will surely have plenty more chances to come.
Ireland were always going to be up against it defending such a modest total, and seeing Barry McCarthy limp off in his opening over only compounded the difficulty for Andy Balbirnie. Ireland boldly trusted in youth with their opening selection, leaving out the old salts William Porterfield and Boyd Rankin; and while Campher shone, there were ducks for two other members of the new generation, Harry Tector, also on debut, and Lorcan Tucker.
Balbirnie was disappointed with the way the top order failed to "assess conditions" after being put in to bat, and the captain will be expecting more from himself, and deputy Paul Stirling, over the next two matches. The World Cup Super League means Ireland will be gaining extra exposure over the next couple of years - but they won't want to be as exposed as they were on Thursday.
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Why do you do it to us, James Vince
? Why? At 29 and with five years of international cricket under his belt, he ought to be in his pomp. Never mind bio-secure environments, there are some who would willingly live in a Vince bubble, filled with crisp straight drives and dismissive pulls - as he showcased, briefly, in the first ODI - but too often it quickly goes pop and leaves everyone feeling unsatisfied. In 11 innings since scoring fifty in his first ODI bat, against Sri Lanka back in 2016, he has somehow managed to get out between 14 and 43 nine times. So far, so frustrating: Vince might only have a couple more chances to convince.
After long years of stability when Paul Stirling
was joined by William Porterfield at the top of the order, Ireland are seeking a new combination to start the innings off. With Porterfield coming towards the end of his international career, and having moved down to No. 4 last summer, Stirling has since been partnered by James McCollum and, in the current series, Gareth Delany. At 29, and as Balbirnie's vice-captain, Ireland need Stirling's experience to bolster a callow batting order. He could also do with improving a poor record against England
, with a top score of 48 from nine innings.
has been ruled out of the series after suffering a back spasm, with the uncapped Liam Livingstone promoted to the squad from the reserves. Morgan hinted at sticking with the same top order, but there is a chance Reece Topley
could return in England colours for the first time since the 2016 World T20, depending on how the bowlers pull up.
England: (possible) 1 Jason Roy, 2 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 3 James Vince, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Sam Billings, 6 Tom Banton, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 David Willey, 9 Tom Curran, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Saqib Mahmood
McCarthy had an MRI scan after feeling "unusual discomfort" when bowling on Thursday, which revealed a tear in the muscle at the back of his left knee. As a result, he is out of the series. Rankin would have been the most likely replacement, but has been pulled out of the 14-man squad to manage a flare-up of an old back injury. Peter Chase
has been added to the squad along with George Dockrell
, who could come in for Simi Singh to offer a left-arm spin option.
Ireland: (possible) 1 Paul Stirling, 2 Gareth Delany, 3 Andy Balbirnie (capt), 4 Harry Tector, 5 Kevin O'Brien, 6 Lorcan Tucker (wk), 7 Curtis Campher, 8 Simi Singh, 9 Andy McBrine, 10 Craig Young, 11 Josh Little
Pitch and conditions
The same pitch will be used for the second ODI, and another warm forecast means spin could play a greater role as the game goes on. There were signs that the surface was not quite as pristine as it looked to the naked eye, and the top orders on both sides might have to adapt accordingly.
Stats and trivia
Jonny Bairstow needs 75 runs to reach 3000 in ODIs. If he gets there in this match, his 72nd innings, he will equal Joe Root's mark as the fastest for England.
"It's an unbelievable squad. You look at the players that still aren't getting a look-in and the guys that went home from this camp: there are some brilliant cricketers sat on the sidelines that are still trying to find a way in."
David Willey on England's luxury of riches
"The batters were really disappointed. We've been working really hard in the last six-eight weeks, putting in countless hours, gym sessions, so it was really disappointing that it had to go that way."
Curtis Campher on Ireland's failure to launch
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick