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Meet the cricket WAGS -- fair maidens of Irish team

MEET the Wags of Ireland's newest sporting heroes.

As the country's cricketers get used to having the spotlight shone upon them at the World Cup in India, their wives and girlfriends are basking in the glory.

And for batting sensation Kevin O'Brien, the past 48 hours have been cause for double celebration. Kevin's girlfriend Ruth-Anne Kelly surprised the star player by arriving in Bangalore, India just in time for his 27th birthday -- and for the match that launched the Blarney Army onto the world stage.

However, the whole experience has left Ruth-Anne (26), from Sandymount, Dublin "an emotional wreck".

Speaking from Bangalore, a delighted Ruth-Anne told the Herald: "Usually I'm the calm one but once Kevin hit the 50 mark I was in bits. Everyone was on the edge of their seat.

"The atmosphere was incredible. I was an emotional wreck."

Ruth-Anne revealed how a last-minute change of plan ensured she didn't miss her boyfriend's moment of glory.

"I was supposed to arrive next Friday and then at the last minute I decided to change my flight so I could be here for the England game and I'm so glad I did," she explained.

"The guys really appreciate all the support. They got a lovely Tweet from Brian O'Driscoll and one of the lads got a text from Tommy Bowe, so it's great to have that sort of support," added Ruth-Anne.

Fellow Dubliner John Mooney played a huge part in the victory, picking up four wickets and scoring the winning runs. Watching his exploits back home in Rush, his excited fiancee Helena Grant revealed that "it was very tense watching the game, there were tears".

Delighted

Helena, who jetted out to join the team today, added: "For John personally it has always been his dream to beat England. What a team to beat! I'm still reliving every ball. In the 2007 World Cup John didn't have as big a part to play, so to see him progress like this is just fantastic."

As for the couple's daughter Alisha (8), she was so confident of a victory for her dad's team that she put bets on with all of her friends.

"She was delighted with herself," laughed Helena. "I couldn't believe it, I suppose I should have taken a leaf out of her book!"

Ireland's sensational victory has also catapulted the so-called WAGS into the spotlight, but the down-to-earth partners of the players are taking it all in their stride.

Helena explained: "Nobody ever called me a WAG because nobody gives cricket a second look, but now I'm getting loads of comments which I never got before!"

afinneran@herald.ie