IRELAND wasted little time in wrapping up a victory over the Netherlands at Rathmines yesterday, winning by an innings and 84 runs to keep alive their faint hopes of retaining the InterContinental Cup.
Allan Eastwood and Albert van der Merwe -- both making their first-class debuts -- shared the six wickets Ireland needed yesterday as a feeble Dutch side were bowled out in 40 overs for 136.
Pembroke seamer Eastwood had the dangerous Nick Statham caught at second slip in his first over of the morning and then produced movement and bounce to find an edge from Tom Heggelman.
Van der Merwe's off-spin claimed the next couple of wickets -- the second thanks to a stunning slip catch by skipper Trent Johnston -- and after Dutch skipper Peter Borren was lbw at the other end, the spinner accepted a return catch to win the match with more than five sessions to spare.
Ireland coach Phil Simmons praised the batting efforts of second-day centurions Andrew White and John Mooney, but admitted that Ireland's five-year monopoly of the IC Cup could soon be over.
Simmons said: "We are the best four-day team at this level, but we can't control the weather and two of our qualifying games last year (draws against Kenya and Scotland) were badly affected by rain.
"We knew coming into this game that we had to get a maximum 60 points from our final three matches and hope other results go our way -- that's all we can do and it's what we have done here."
Simmons expects the Netherlands to be a different prospect in the two upcoming one-day internationals at Clontarf on Monday and Wednesday, where they will be boosted by the return of star batsmen Tom Cooper and Baz Zuiderent.
One by-product of Ireland winning with more than a day to spare is the availability of Kevin O'Brien and Mooney to play in today's Leinster club Twenty20 finals day at Phoenix Park, although the veteran Johnston will take the day off to prepare for the one day internationals.
Team-mate O'Brien will line-up for Railway Union against Mooney's North County in the first semi-final at 11.0.
Phoenix meet Malahide in the second, while the final will get under way at 5.0.
Ireland 408 beat Netherlands 188 and 136 (40 overs) (A Eastwood 4-62, van der Merwe 3-15, T Johnston 3-41) by an innings and 84 runs