The heady days of the World Cup are suddenly feeling a long time ago for Trent Johnston and the Ireland team. Their first one-day international since they ended the Super Eights adventure finished in a nine-wicket defeat against India at Stormont.

Ireland's cause wasn't helped by a long list of key players missing for various reasons. Of their World Cup stars, Eoin Morgan, Jeremy Bray, Boyd Rankin, David Langford-Smith and Andre Botha weren't available against India along with the Mooney brothers. Rankin, Langford-Smith and Botha are injured but Morgan has opted to secure a first-team place with Middlesex and Bray asked not to be considered for the matches.

Since returning from the Caribbean there has been plenty of positive talk about turning Irish cricket at least semi-professional but, as Craig Wright warned about Scottish cricket, already that dream is looking a long way off. However, Johnston says it's a route the game must take if the World Cup isn't going to be a one-off.

"It's difficult," admitted Johnston. "We don't even have a first-class structure here. We basically come from club cricket to playing the best cricketers in the world.

"We've got to have professional contracts put in place so players can get back to the standard we set in the West Indies. Four months we were away playing cricket and you could see in our performance over there we were a much better team.

"We are amateur cricketers. We get together for two or three hours a week as a squad and train. I think you can see from our performances in the World Cup when we were 24/7 cricket, we were a different side. There's a lot more pressures when you are back here, you've got kids, you've got families."

Except for their Intercontinental Cup victory against a weak Canadian side, Ireland's form since the World Cup has been poor and they didn't manage a single victory in the Friends Provident Trophy.

"We've struggled this year against county teams so when you come and play against a team like India, with the quality they have, we are always going to struggle because we're not together, we're not a professional outfit.

"We are in a rebuilding process. Our two opening bowlers [Whelan and Fourie], have probably played three or four games in total between them for Ireland. To open the bowling against [Sourav] Ganguly and [Sachin] Tendulkar is a huge step up.

"But, at the end of the day, they knew how to bowl at the top of off stump to get here so why can't they do it in the middle? That's the disappointing thing, because I know they can do it. But I don't want to be critical of our bowlers because they are young and inexperienced."

However, Johnston refused to be too disheartened and preferred to look towards the future. "We get together for three hours for a week and it's impossible to compete against these guys. We've just got to learn to be more consistent.

"We've got good young cricketers coming through and we've got to come back tomorrow [Sunday] and put in a good performance against South Africa."