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Ireland coach Simmons upbeat despite injury worries

By Ian Callender

It never rains but it pours is a weather expression familiar to anyone in these isles but it could also apply to the Ireland cricket squad as they set off tomorrow for their pre-World Cup acclimatisation tour to Australia and New Zealand.

National coach Phil Simmons is looking no further than Ireland's first match on the Gold Coast next Tuesday, just hoping he has 11 fit players to take the field.

With four of his 18-man squad involved in this week's final round of county championship matches, Simmons always knew he was going to be travelling light but Paul Stirling's place on the tour is unknown until after he sees a specialist today for a scan on his back, Max Sorensen has been ruled out with a fractured wrist, Ed Joyce is being rested and George Dockrell and Alex Cusack are travelling but both are without recent cricket and recovering from injuries.

Hardly the ideal scenario ahead of competitive games against the Queensland Bulls and New South Wales 2nd XI followed by action against three New Zealand state sides.

"It's better knowing now, rather than on Wednesday or Thursday," is Simmons' positive take on his playing squad. "It will give other guys a chance to push for places.

"With Joyce not going, it's a chance for a batsman, with Max not available, it's a chance for a seamer. For example, Graeme McCarter is now on the trip, is going to get four or five games and it's up to him to show us what he can do."

At least there were no last-day dramas for Simmons with the players involved on Saturday all coming through. Indeed, Kevin O'Brien took part in only 17 overs of the Newstalk inter-provincial at Rathmines when Leinster Lightning completed a clean sweep of the 50 overs matches with a two wickets victory over Northern Knights.

Stuart Thompson helped Eglinton to victory over Ardmore so avoided an extra match yesterday, the relegation play-off against Glendermott which Ardmore won by 121 runs.

Newstalk Inter-provincial Cup: At Rathmines, Northern Knights 192 (47.5 overs, A White 44, A Dennsion 35, L Nelson 21, J van der Merwe 20; T Kane 4-31, Yaqoob Ali 3-32) Leinster Lightning 194-8 (43.5 overs, J Anderson 80, J Mooney 60, B McCarthy 20 not out; N Gill 3-35, S Bunting 2-30). Lightning won by wo wickets.

Long's SuperValu Premiership play-off: At Magheramason, Ardmore 212 (45.4 overs, D Curry 84, A Riddles 36, P Harrigan 31; S Cochrane 4-26, C Ross 3-46) Glendermott 91 (32.3 overs, M Henderson 25; G Neely 4-20, D Curry 3-8, L Brolly 3-21). Ardmore won by 121 runs and stay in Premiership.

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