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O'Brien quits county scene but available for Ireland

By Ian Callender

Niall O'Brien has confirmed he has retired from county cricket but although he will not be returning home, he hopes to continue his international career.

O'Brien, who celebrates his 35th birthday next week, has been appointed Athlete Manager for Essentially, one of the market leaders in Talent Management.

While his day job will be looking after the interests of and representing promising domestic and international cricketers, O'Brien told me that he will continue to play club cricket in England and hopes to be involved in the inter-provincial set-up next season with Leinster Lightning when the three-day competition gets first-class status for the first time.

"I have decided to stay living in Leicestershire," he said. "There was an option to move home to Dublin, lock stock and barrel, but we didn't want to do that.

"I will be working all over the UK as an agent and playing club cricket in the Cheshire Premier League.

"The plan is to play inter-pros but that depends on the contract offer."

If an agreement is reached between Lightning - who have appointed former Ireland international slow bowler Albert van der Merwe as coach - and O'Brien then Ireland's current first choice wicket-keeper should be in pole position to add to his 185 Ireland caps. Only seven internationals have played more.

Meanwhile, Stuart Thompson, who missed all of last summer's international fixture list because of performance anxiety issues, will spend the next four months in Australia at the prestigious Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy in Adelaide.

The Eglinton all-rounder was offered the chance by Cricket Ireland, who have a relationship with the DLCA, to spend the winter there and he jumped at it.

"I'm excited to be travelling out there, to work on my game in a different and challenging environment," said Thompson.

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