Ger Siggins, New York

SHELL-shocked Ireland depart the Big Apple this weekend with little hope of making the Super Eights at the Men’s T20 World Cup. A poor overall performance allowed associate side Canada to triumph by 12 runs, meaning Paul Stirling’s side will have to beat the US and Pakistan in Florida next weekend, and still require snookers to progress.

Unlike against India two days ago, there were no excuses today and to be fair, Stirling didn’t offer any.

‘They played better cricket than us for three hours, and they won’, he admitted.

After years of Ireland collecting big scalps on the road to the top table, defeat had a familiar feeling but Stirling was not shocked: ‘Coming from where we came from, the result is not surprising. We never take anyone lightly.’

After days of controversy over the pitch, it was relief to those in green that Ireland got the option to bat second.

The pitch didn’t play as badly as previously, although several balls reared off a length and threatened unwary helmets. Of course, none of the bowlers on show carried the same menace, or skill level, as India’s speedsters, and the Irish ones that had a bit of pace insisted on putting the ball in the wrong areas.

It was frustrating to watch the Irish quicks bowling their standard variety of inswing and outswing when deliveries landing on a good length or back of one were required. The Canadians copped that a lot quicker than the Irish, and proved superior in all departments.

The first half of Canada’s innings was a curate’s egg, with Mark Adair and Craig Young keeping it tight, and Josh Little and Barry McCarthy coming under the hammer.

McCarthy’s first two overs went for 20, but the Pembroke man recovered brilliantly to take 2-4 off his final two.

Gareth Delany held a sharp one-handed caught and bowled off Dilpreet Bajwa to claim a wicket with his first ball of the tournament, and Ireland were happy enough at ten-over drinks with the score on 63-4.

However, Nicholas Kirton (49) and Sreyyas Movva (37) had a partnership of 75 for the fifth wicket which proved to be the match-winner, the pair ensuring bad balls went for four and running Ireland ragged. When a total of 150 looked likely McCarthy snapped up two quick wickets and a more manageable 138 was the target.

Ireland again lost the openers early, but instead of playing ‘fearless cricket’ as their mantra says, Ireland went conservative and hit just two fours in the first ten overs. After ten overs were just 48-3 off ten, already well behind the Canadians,.

Boundaries continued to prove hard to come by, and the next four came at the end of the 15th over – a full nine overs since the previous one.

At that stage George Dockrell and Adair started to cut loose but it felt they had left it too late to begin the charge – with 64 needed off the last five overs – and so it proved.

There were several big overs as both men cleared the ropes, and they completed a 50 partnership for the 7th wicket, easily an Irish record at T20 World Cups.

But the Canadians continued to make scoring difficult with their greater command of length, and 17 off the last over proved a bridge too far.

As well as stirring victories, T20 World Cups have seen some embarrassing defeats for Ireland over the years, with Canada now joining Oman, Netherlands and Namibia in collecting the green scalp.

Jeremy Gordon, the bowler who took on the responsibility of the last over was delighted with his team’s all-round performance, especially as he had shouldered the blame for their opening defeat to the USA.

‘I think all three departments ticked their boxes,’ he said. ‘We saw the previous games and thought 130-140 was likely to be enough on this wicket, and we achieved that.

‘We saw what worked for the Ireland bowlers and hit a good 7-8 metre length, and gave ourselves a good chance.

‘It’s very emotional in the dressing room, very happy and proud. We beat Ireland in the qualifier in Dubai so we figured we could do it again.’

Stirling admitted it was a tough defeat. ‘It was certainly gettable, we just need to improve all round. Hopefully we can show a better game next week.’

The last two games in the Pool, against USA and Pakistan next weekend, are ‘huge games’ according to Stirling. ‘We’re going to have to play a hell of a lot better to win,’ he added.