©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

'It wasn't a big party. If we won the World Cup it would be a big party'

Ireland’s cricketers arrived home to Dublin Airport today after clinching qualification for the 2015 World Cup.

IRELAND’S DRAMATIC DRAW against the Netherlands was so close that Alex Cusack thought the Boys in Green had been beaten.

Ireland needed a point in Amstelveen on Tuesday to clinch the World Cricket League with two games to spare and, more importantly, become the first country to qualify for the 2015 Cricket World Cup.

Phil Simmons’ side looked to be well on track when they opened with a solid total of 268 before a defiant stand from the Netherlands threatened to spoil the party.

A six by Michael Rippon off the final ball saw the game end in a draw but the point was good enough for Ireland and also boosted the Netherlands’ own chances of taking the second qualification spot.

“We just kept plugging away and we probably lost the game, then we probably won it and then lost it again,” Trent Johnston told as the team landed back in Dublin Airport this afternoon.

“Eventually getting one point was fantastic and I think it was a pretty fair result for both teams on the day.”

Alex Cusack said: “I actually thought we had lost. I didn’t realise we had tied it, then I just checked the scoreboard and the lads were telling me it was a tie and we had qualified.”

Max Sorensen and the team arrived back in Dublin Airport today (©INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan)

President Michael D Higgins led the congratulations for the Irish team, describing their rise as “a tribute to the talent, and deep commitment of every single player; but also to the power of the collective spirit.” The 2015 tournament in Australia and New Zealand will be Ireland’s third World Cup though because of their “Associate” status, they have had to do it the hard way and qualify each time.

The low-key nature of the celebrations on Tuesday night showed that while qualification is still a big achievement, Simmons and Ireland are setting their sights much higher.

“We had a normal party. It wasn’t a big party,” Simmons said today. “If we won the World Cup it would be a big party.

“That’s not the state of where this team is. It’s not a surprise and therefore it’s not a massive, massive celebration. If we won a World Cup which is something that we haven’t done before, it could get out of hand. The guys enjoyed themselves, that’s the main thing.

“It’s another huge achievement, the fact that we’re going to another World Cup. Until we get an automatic place in the World Cup we have to keep working hard to get it and that’s the way we have to look at it. It’s huge.

Trent Johnston in action against the Netherlands (©INPHO/Presseye/Rowland White)

“It’s no longer enough for us to get to the World Cup, it’s about how far we get in the World Cup now. That’s the way we look at it. We’re going to get to the World Cup but how far we get in the World Cup is what defines our progress from now on.”

Ireland’s next big test will be in September when they welcome England to Malahide for the ‘RSA Challenge’ one-day international.

Simmons added: “I think we have a bit of work to do. I think there are parts of our game that are not as consistent as we want to be but the only way you can find out where you are is by playing more teams.

“That’s the part that we’re struggling with now, getting the big teams to play us as consistently as we want. I think that’s the way we’re going to find out where we are and what we have to do.”

Dave Langan to sell medals and Ireland caps to help clear debt

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