It's D-day for Irish World Cup squad
The Ireland selectors sit down tonight to pick a 15-man squad for next month's games against Scotland and Afghanistan in Dubai, but, injuries permitting, it is certain to be the squad which will head to Australia and New Zealand in February for the World Cup finals.
Hopes of a return to the West Indies for the annual Nagico tournament have been dashed so it will be a case of the World Cup qualifiers playing among themselves in the UAE in the final countdown to the finals and after tonight, there is no turning back for the selectors.
The big question is the balance of slow bowlers to quick bowlers with Australia, where Ireland play four of their six matches, statistically a graveyard for spinners. George Dockrell, despite a disappointing last 12 months, remains Ireland's No 1 slow bowler but a front-line spinner must be taken as back-up and Donemana and North West Warriors captain Andy McBrine is surely the back-up.
Tim Murtagh has not bowled a ball in anger this winter as he recuperated from a hard summer with Middlesex and he missed the games in Dubai against New Zealand A last month while his wife gave birth, but rumours that he might be left out of the World Cup squad look unfounded as he is one of four named Ireland players who will be in Dublin tomorrow for the latest launch of tickets for Ireland's ODI against England at Malahide next May.
Possible squad: W Porterfield (capt), P Stirling, E Joyce, N O'Brien, G Wilson K O'Brien, A Balbirnie, J Mooney, M Sorensen, A Cusack, G Dockrell, A McBrine, C Young, T Murtagh, P Chase.