Niall O'Brien century pilots Ireland to title

Ireland 195 (Cusack 95*, Snyman 5-53) and 201 for 1 (O'Brien 119*) beat Namibia 250 (Burger 74, Connell 5-54) and 145 (Rankin 4-39) by nine wickets

Ireland became the Intercontinental Cup champions for the third consecutive time as they crushed Namibia by nine wickets in the final. Needing 67 at the start of the day, Ireland didn't face any hiccups with overnight batsmen Niall O'Brien, who ended unbeaten on 119, and Alex Cusack guiding them to victory.
The pair were initially cautious against Deon Kotze and Gerrie Snyman - only 12 runs coming off the first 11 overs of the day - before cutting loose. Louis Klazinga was welcomed with a boundary and Jan-Berrie Burger was dispatched for two consecutive fours by O'Brien in the next over, which also brought up his eighth first-class century.

Niall O'Brien, who was recently nominated for ICC's Associate Player of the Year, made amends for his first-innings duck with a classy hundred. Cusack played the perfect foil scoring a patient 39, and hit the winning runs with a boundary off Burger.

William Porterfield, the Ireland captain, said the success made all the hard work worthwhile. "I am absolutely delighted. To come here to Africa and win all three games to take the title for a third time is a great achievement and we are over the moon.

"It seems a long time ago that we played our first game in the competition against Bermuda," he added. "It has been a long haul with lots of ups and downs but we have come through in the end.

"We were certainly under pressure in this match. Namibia managed to get to 250 after we had them under the kosh early and then being 37 for 5 we did well to get within 50 or so of their total. We were pretty pleased on that front and then we knew we'd have to come out hard with ball in the second innings and we did that.

"All credit to the bowlers to keep the target to 200 and then we went out and did the job we should have done in the fist innings with the bat."

Despite O'Brien's century which sealed victory, Porterfield singled out Man-of-the-Match Cusack for special praise after his first-innings 95 kept Ireland in the match. "The way Cusack played in the first innings was very important," he said. "He kept his head and kept his composure to build a big partnership with Trent [Johnston] and they really dug in deep and then reaped the rewards.

"We weren't surprised that Namibia were so good. We saw it a month ago in Windhoek and we were fortunate to come through that with an eight-run victory so all credit to them. I made my debut against them two years ago and the steps forward they have made in those two years is remarkable and they now have a side worthy of playing in this competition."