Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
Normally when a team loses the match after they have qualified for a major tournament, the defeat is put down to complacency. But yesterday at Eglinton, Papua New Guinea beat Ireland in the Under-19 World Cup qualifying tournament because they were the better team.
The minnows may have finished fifth, two places below Ireland in the final table, but the last-day victory was enough to seal their place in the finals in Australia next July and underlined just how much Ireland need to improve if they are to be even competitive on the world stage.
Ireland were bowled out for 155 in the 47th over – their lowest score of the tournament – and not one batsman reached 30 and then the bowlers, still minus Graeme McCarter, were given a mauling as PNG scored 51 in the six overs they had to face before lunc ah and brought up their 100 in the 15th.
When captain Chris Kent was caught in the next over after hitting five fours and a six in his 34, the middle order slowed down and Ireland managed to take five wickets before PNG romped home with more than 20 overs to spare.
The final Ireland team selection was simple with the three Under 17s heading to Cork last night rested and that give Hugh MacDonnell, Adam Berry and Ryan Hunter the chance to rescue their desperately disappointing tournaments. Before yesterday they had aggregated 121 runs in 16 innings; against PNG they could add only another 20 and all have an anxious wait before the finals squad is selected early next season.
Yet again Ireland lost three early wickets but this time George Dockrell was fourth man out for 24 after hitting three sweet boundaries in his 32-ball innings and although Adam Coughlan took 12 balls to get off the mark, he hung in there was was ninth man out for 29 from 66 balls.
The big wicket was the in-form Shane Getkate, caught behind after a run-a-ball 22 and it needed a ninth wicket partnership between Coughlan and Barry McCarthy to take Ireland into the 47th over, their stand of 38 comfortably the highest of the innings.
A total of 155 should not win a one-day game on a good batting surface and, sure enough, PNG took the attack to the Irish bowling attack who were found wanting. This was the visitors day and deservedly so.