Larry’s Lost Diary: Gael Force Hits Nelson

John Mooney, left, and Niall O'Brien celebrate Ireland's win over West Indies at the World Cup

Woohoo!! What an impressive performance by the boys in sunny Nelson.

Whilst Sion Mills (1969), Sabina Park (2007) and Bangalore (2011) had elements of disbelief and shock, yesterday felt like a regulation win. The level of professionalism and team unity displayed by the guys was impressive and they definitely didn’t look out of place on the international arena. If anything I thought the Windies looked a rabble and dispirited, no more evident with the lack of unity following the loss of an Irish wicket near the end.

Nelson has treated us to a few fantastic days. I first visited the town in 2009 as Kylie and myself sought solace after losing our daughter Sophie at birth. Yesterday, the town provided us with joy. Nelson love the Irish and was never more evident yesterday with support being approximately ten to one, akin to India and Pakistan on Sunday at Adelaide Oval. Before the match, I walked down the streets of Nelson and received plenty of love from the locals. A totally different response that I received a decade ago when I made a near-fatal mistake of walking the streets of Auckland in a Wallabies jumper the day after the 2003 Rugby World Cup semi-final (when Stirling Mortlock got the sealer against the All Blacks via intercept). As you could probably guess, I received numerous death threats back then but yesterday the Kiwis wanted Larry to marry their daughters! I am sure Stirlo, Ed, Niall, George and co. received the same offers last night after their sterling performances against the Windies.

No doubt the overcast conditions helped in the first hour and despite the late onslaught by Sammy and Simmons, the first 25 overs in the field won it for the Irish. Whilst Stirlo got the man of the match honours, my hero in yesterday’s win was Andy McBrine with his 1-26 from 10 overs. In this day and age of powerhitting, fielding restrictions, smaller grounds and bigger bats, I doubt we will see more economical figures in this World Cup! What made his figures even more outstanding was that yesterday was Andy’s first ODI against a ‘Top 8’ side (ok that is now debateable!) and he was brought in early against Chris Gayle, the guy that I have seen eat finger spinners for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No easy feat particularly when bowling to him during a Powerplay and on such a postage stamp ground. And let’s not forget his tremendous of run-out of Bravo before he faced a ball. Well done Andy!

The Windies bowlers of the 1980s and 1990s used to stay that they didn’t bother how many their batsmen put on the board because they felt that they would always defend it. Roll on 2015 and it is now the Irish batsmen saying that they don’t care what the opposition sets because they will chase it down with Ireland now accounting for three of the five times in World Cup history that sides have successfully chased over 300!

It is amazing how much technology has changed over the past eight years. Back in March 2007, I would have received a few hundred text messages and emails after our tie against Zimbabwe and win against Pakistan. Yesterday I didn’t receive one text. Instead I receive a few hundred tweets and Facebook posts/messages. It would be interesting to see if Niall, Kev, Ports and John Boy observed this change as well. Speaking of technology, I read the other day that the Wi-Fi service at the Irish cricket HQ had Bangalore2011 as the password. I wonder if that will now change to Nelson2015?

Back in 2007, my uncle Tony was playing a round of golf in Loughrea, Co Galway when he received a text from one of his best friends, “What do you call a leprechaun’s uncle?” He had absolutely no idea until he saw his Aussie nephew parading as Larry in the Irish Times that evening. I am sure he got a few more last night. Sorry Uncle Tony!

A number of people were asking where Lil Larry was. Unfortunately the cost of going to Nelson (A$1,400 for my airfares and accommodation from Melbourne) was very prohibitive and I couldn’t justify the cost, particularly with the other matches to attend. Instead he watched Daddy from the loungeroom but is looking forward to meeting the Blarney Army team in Brisbane next week.

There were plenty of Irish ex-pats now living in New Zealand who came to the match. Longford, Wexford, Wicklow, Fermanagh and Mayo – not exactly traditional cricketing strongholds – and for many it was their first game of cricket ever. Well done and I hope you enjoyed the Blarney Army experience. It definitely looked like ye did by the end of the match.

I am sure a number of fans back home are thinking about flying over to Oz in the next few weeks, particularly with a quarter final spot within our grasp. I hope you can make it. One guy that I am looking forward to catching up with is Shay Livingstone who is flying into Brisbane on Sunday. Shay is the manager of the Connaught Hotel in Galway and has been a long-time supporter of Irish cricket. He has arranged a special outfit for the World Cup and after seeing a private viewing of it, I can vouch it is something special.

I think the nine day break before our match against the UAE will be good. A few guys were walking wounded at the end of yesterday’s match and will enjoy a few days break on the sunny Gold Coast before re-focusing on the important clash at the Gabba on Feb 25. I had earmarked this WI game as our mini-World Cup final. Mission accomplished but we are still only one down and need to win at least two more Pool matches to qualify for the quarter-final stage of the World Cup. This match against the UAE is a non-negotiable and hope that the guys are not too complacent. It is a lot easier being the hunter than the hunted and I hope the guys remember the number that the Dutch did to us in the last World T20. It would be great to have two wins secured from our first two matches.

I look forward to seeing everyone in Brisbane. One of the lieutenants of the Blarney Army, Eoin Dawson (@eoind85), has suggested that members meet at the Chalk Hotel in Woolloongabba which is across the road from the Gabba.

Ireland aren’t minnows. No Never No More!

I am #BackingGreen

Follow me on Twitter @larryleprechau


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