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Cricket World Cup: Ireland are now an international force

By Niall O'Brien

It's all over for Ireland in this World Cup but the memory of #backinggreen will live on.

This isn't a retirement speech, far from it, but the 2019 World Cup in England is almost certainly a step too far for me, as somebody who turns 34 next November.

For this team, and the next generation of players, however, they will hopefully still feature prominently.

Even if the ICC don't reverse their ludicrous decision to restrict the competition to 10 teams in 2019, there's still a route, albeit a complicated one, that this team can make it to the competition. And they will make an impact there, just as they did here.

There's frustration and anger out there at the decision of the ICC because the Associate nations have contributed plenty to this competition but, if we get there, there'll be nobody taking us for granted.

The element of surprise in playing Ireland has long gone and, just as South Africa and India did earlier in the tournament, Pakistan had to be firing to beat us.

There's no shame in saying that, man-for-man, they have better players but we knew we were still capable of winning the game but, unfortunately, we just didn't produce on the day.

The captain led by example with a magnificent century but too many of us, myself included, got in and then got out before we could really form a partnership that could have been decisive.

We needed 280-300 to put them under pressure but, as we did against India, we lost wickets at crucial times when trying to build a big score.

If anybody had offered us three wins from six at the beginning of the tournament we would have snapped their hands off so, while there's obvious disappointment, we can be extremely proud of our efforts over the past few months.

There's so much work that has gone on behind the scenes and players like Peter Chase and Craig Young have been brilliant in their support even though they didn't get a competitive game.

It's not easy to be upbeat in that situation but those lads have been a credit to themselves on what has been a great few months.

For me, the journey of a third and final World Cup didn't end in the best of circumstances, with Pakistan trying to manufacture the strike so that Sarfraz could get his hundred.

With Akmal blocking or refusing to take a run, the end of the game was a bit farcical and left a bad taste.

Sarfraz batted well and probably deserved his hundred but, in the same situation, I would never expect a team-mate to block so that I could make a ton.

You respect the opposition, win the game and walk off not out. It was poor form.

It was a strange way for my final game in the World Cup to end but, in a few years, when I think of playing Pakistan in the World Cup, it won't be this one that sticks out but the 2007 St Patrick's Day match in Kingston which was just a magnificent moment and the highlight of my three campaigns.

Back then, there were only a few of us who were professional and it was like playing with a bunch of your mates. It's incredible how far everything has come in terms of dedication and commitment from all the staff, as well as the infrastructure being put in place so that the future will be bright.

I've a few decisions to make over the next few months and hope to be involved in the coach and captain's plans for the big ODI games in the summer against Australia and England as well as the T20s and the Intercontinental Cup which is crucial for our prospects across all formats of the game.

Despite being knocked out yesterday, those prospects are still on the up and the future for the game is bright, not least because of the incredible support we've received inside the grounds, in the various cities and across social media.

We hope everyone will be #backinggreen for a long time to come.

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