Ireland call shocks O'Brien
Nick Royle (Setanta)
Niall O'Brien admits that he was taken by surprise at his first national call-up since choosing the Bangladesh Premier League over Ireland.
The Northants wicketkeeper was named in a 23-man training squad for the RSA Inter-Regional North/South one day and T20 Series which will commence on Sunday 3rd June.
O'Brien opted in February to sign a $70,000 contract with Khulna Royal Bengals, despite the BPL clashing with Ireland's Intercontinental Cup game against Kenya.
National team coach Phil Simmons omitted O'Brien from the squad for the World Twenty20 series in the UAE in March, and there were fears that the 30-year-old would never play for his country again.
O'Brien's agent has been in contact with Ireland high performance director Richard Holdsworth over his national team future, but the Dubliner was surprised to be told on Sunday morning by Setanta Sports that he had been picked by the South of Ireland for the representative games.
"This is the first I have heard of it," a delighted O'Brien said.
"I have not had any contact with Cricket Ireland to let me know about my selection, but it will be great to play in the fixture. Hopefully if it is feasible to play, (given his county cricket commitments with Northants, who have contractual priority) I will play.
"It is great for me to be involved with Irish cricket again. There had been talks this week between Richard Holdsworth and my agent, so hopefully any outstanding issues can be resolved.
"I have spoken to the captain (William Porterfield) and some of the senior players, and I am hopeful of playing again this summer for Ireland."
O'Brien has no complaints at the actions of Simmons in not considering him for the World Twenty20 qualifiers in March, and vowed to work hard to regain his place as Ireland's first-choice wicketkeeper.
"Phil, the captain and the board were open and honest with me, and I appreciate that. They told me that, if I went to play in Bangladesh, I would not go on tour. I accepted that and took it on the chin, but by the same token they said that the door would always be open.
"Hopefully I can force my way back into a very good side, and make a big contribution for Ireland like I have for the past ten years."
The North squad is:
1. Andrew White (Instonians), Captain
2. James Shannon (Instonians), Vice-captain
3. Andrew Britton (Limavady)
4. Peter Connell (CIYMS)
5. Scott Campbell (Coleraine)
6. Chris Dougherty (CIYMS)
7. Phil Eaglestone (Strabane)
8. Nigel Jones (CSNI)
9. James Hall (Waringstown)
10. Andrew McBrine (Donemana)
11. Graeme McCarter (Fox Lodge / Gloucestershire CCC)
12. Rory McCann (Instonians)
13. Niall McDonnell (Strabane)
14. Lee Nelson (Waringstown)
15. William Porterfield (Warwickshire)
16. Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire)
17. David Rankin (Bready)
18. Paul Stirling (Carrickfergus / Middlesex CCC)
19. Stuart Thompson (Limavady)
20. Gary Wilson (CSNI / Surrey CCC)
21. Ben Wylie (Instonians)
22. Craig Young (Bready / Sussex CCC)
23. Ian Young (Bready)
Coach: Eugene Moleon (Instonians)
Assistant Coach/Player: Nigel Jones (CSNI)
Manager: Roy Torrens
The South squad is:
1. Kevin O'Brien (Railway Union), Captain
2. John Mooney (North County), Vice-captain
3. Ben Ackland (Merrion)
4. John Anderson (Merrion)
5. Andy Balbirnie (Pembroke)
6. Alex Cusack (Clontarf)
7. Adam Coughlan (North County)
8. George Dockrell (Leinster, Somerset)
9. Allan Eastwood (Pembroke)
10. Tom Fisher (Railway Union)
11. Robert Forrest (Clontarf)
12. Shane Getkate (North County)
13. Trent Johnston (YMCA)
14. Tyrone Kane (Merrion)
15. Barry McCarthy (Pembroke)
16. Stephen Moreton (Leinster)
17. Niall O'Brien (Northants CC)
18. Andrew Poynter (Clontarf)
19. Stuart Poynter (Clontarf)
20. Eddie Richardson (North County)
21. Max Sorenson (The Hills)
22. Patrick Tice (Merrion)
23. Albert van der Merwe (YMCA)
Coach: Peter Johnston (Leinster)
Assistant Coach/Player: Trent Johnston (YMCA)
Manager: John Hoey (Terenure)
Assistant Manager: Mark Jones (Leinster)