Northern Ireland’s political leaders have hailed the Ireland cricket team’s victory over England at the World Cup in Bangalore as an historic achievement.
First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness congratulated the team, which boasts four players from Northern Ireland — Paul Stirling from Belfast, Gary Wilson from Dundonald, Boyd Rankin from Londonderry and William Porterfield from Donemana, Co Tyrone.
Mr Porterfield hailed yesterday’s astonishing three-wicket win as “the greatest day of our lives”.
Following the match Mr Robinson hailed the stunning success: “This is an outstanding achievement by the Irish cricket team. To defeat one of the best sides in the world by chasing down a runs total of over 300 is quite remarkable.
“Kevin O'Brien's stunning century, the fastest in the history of the Cricket World Cup, must rank as one of the greatest individual performances in the history of Irish sport.”
Mr McGuinness said: “There are few who would have thought it possible that Ireland could have improved on their achievements at the last World Cup.
“However, today's victory surely represents the pinnacle of Irish cricketing achievement, even surpassing their great victory over Pakistan four years ago.
“I would both like to congratulate the whole team and all involved with Cricket Ireland. I hope that this victory will lead to further success in the tournament.”
Under the scorching Indian heat, Kevin O'Brien, who had his hair coloured purple to support an Irish Cancer Society campaign, secured his place in the history books by scoring the fastest century in the history of the Cricket World Cup.
The 26-year-old Railway Union all-rounder cleared the ropes |six times and also hit 13 fours |as he screamed to three figures from 50 balls.
After it was all over, a grim-faced Andrew Strauss said poor fielding had cost the England team and he was struggling to get his head around the shock defeat.
Ireland are now one step closer to the quarter-finals of the tournament.