While the Irish contribution to Australian cricket is widely acknowledged down under (McCabe, O’Reilly, Fingleton, O’Donnell, McGrath etc), the traffic in the other direction is just as treasured in Ireland.

Eighteen Australians have played for Ireland (including, oddly, five sets of brothers) but it is the quartet that came here in the last decade that made the biggest impact. Ireland’s breakthrough to the world stage coincided with the arrival of the four; all brought here to play sport, all kept here by the love of Irish women.

Jeremy Bray was the first to arrive, giving up a NSW squad place for Co Kilkenny and later Phoenix. By the time he was in the Irish team it was on the move under new coach Adi Birrell, who enticed Trent Johnston back from Sydney and also called up Dave Langford-Smith.

Johnston loved Ireland, and was glad for an outlet for his skills which had been discarded too early by the Blues. He identifies the characteristics that the Australians brought to Irish cricket.

“Aggression was certainly number one”, he recalls. “But we also had a solid work ethic off the pitch, and a never-say-die attitude on it which marked us out.”

The Aussie contingent were feared opponents in club cricket, and when they graduated to the national side they brought that to the international scene.

Ireland played their first ODI in 2006, when Johnston and Langford-Smith opened the bowling and Bray the batting. Nine months later they were at the World Cup, which Bray kicked off with a brilliant century against Zimbabwe. Langford-Smith ran 22 yards to hug him when the milestone was reached.

“I thought Trent might have been there but he got out just before,” Bray said. “It was great to have Dave there though. He was more delighted than I was.”

“We enjoyed playing”, says Johnston, “and especially enjoyed success on and off the field.”

Langford-Smith believes the Aussie influence was forged at home.

“TJ, JB and I are all from New South Wales, learning our trade in Sydney grade cricket. I'm not sure what it's like now, but back then it was regarded as the strongest level below first class cricket in the world. Most weekends you'd find yourself playing against both NSW and Australian players past and present.

“My debut was a semi-final against Sutherland... Glenn McGrath, Stuey Clarke and Stu MacGill to name a few. I slogged McGrath over his head for 4 and I got an almighty five-minute barrage. Looking for an umpire to save me, almost wiping tears from my teenage eyes, I wanted to apologise to him and ask him to sign my bat! The umpires didn't intervene and I realised I was playing a new type of cricket.

“Grade cricket toughens you up a bit and makes you realise it's not all about batting and bowling. It’s about consistency, digging in when needed, and a general win-at-all-cost attitude.”

“I'd never put myself next to TJ or JB in this regard... They've both definitely shown over the years how the game should be played. Jeremy's ability to bat 50 overs was nearly unheard of, but year after year he showed how it's done. TJ with both bat and ball has been outstanding in Ireland, as it was in Sydney when I first knew him. He's one guy you'd turn to when the chips are down, every time.”

Shortly after the 2007 World Cup Alex Cusack made his debut. He was a different type of player, a Queenslander of Irish parents and much less, eh, direct than the others. Cusy is still in the Irish squad, now a limited-overs specialist as injuries have taken their toll in recent years.

Langford-Smith is still playing top division in Dublin, while the other pair have turned to coaching. Bray was back in Ireland with his Denmark team recently, while Johnston is already highly-regarded after one season with the NSW Blues.

Wherever they go in the world of cricket, however, their feats in green will never be forgotten – or that dash of Aussie spirit and sporting genius they brought.