Belfast Telegraph

Cricket: Phil Simmons calls on trio for Ireland's Zimbabwe trip

By Ian Callender

Ireland's three fit county players will play a full part in the controversial tour to Zimbabwe after being named today in the 14-man squad for both the Intercontinental Cup match and three one day internationals which follow.

Captain William Porterfield and Gary Wilson are on opposite sides in Gloucestershire’s championship game against Surrey over the next four days but, along with Northamptonshire’s Niall O’Brien, who is fit again after an operation on his injured finger, will meet up with the rest of the squad in London on Friday for the flight to Harare. The I-Cup game against a Zimbabwe XI starts next Monday.

With National Coach Phil Simmons taking 14 players, he had only to lose two from the squad that was in Canada last week and it was no surprise that they are the pair left behind. With O’Brien and Wilson the first choice wicket-keepers there was never going to be room for McCann and Allan Eastwood consistently out bowled the Strabane man in the four-day game in Toronto so retains his place.

Meanwhile, the only two internationals involved in the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup final on Saturday finished on the losing side, after Merrion, conquerors of Waringstown in the semi-final, beat favourites Railway Union in a rain-affected showpiece.

Trent Johnston (71 off 38 balls) and Kevin O’Brien (76 off 56) put on an undefeated 141 to help Railway to 317 for three in their 50 overs but Merrion had only 26 overs to bat before the match ended.

A stunning, undefeated second wicket partnership of 163 between Dom Joyce and professional Greg Clarence put Merrion a comfortable 36 runs ahead of the Duckworth/Lewis par score to give them victory in their first Irish Cup final.

The last relegation place from the Ulster Bank Premier League will be decided in a 20 overs match at Pollock Park next Saturday when Downpatrick must beat Lurgan by the unlikely margin of 110 runs to preserve their top flight status. If they do, Ballymena will be relegated. Downpatrick are probably grateful for a second chance as Lurgan had scored 110 for no wicket in 25 overs when rain abandoned Saturday’s action.

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