T20 World Cup: How an Olympic hero inspired Ireland to a famous victory over England

Before Irish players wrote their names in the history books, they delved into the country’s sporting history for inspiration.

On Wednesday, Ireland recorded a memorable victory over England in the T20 World Cup, beating them via the Duckworth-Lewis system in a rain-affected game. On the eve of the game, players took a guided tour of the museum at Melbourne Cricket Ground to commemorate an Irish legend and his exploits more than six decades ago.

At the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, 1500 meter sprinter Ron Delany, considered one of the greats of Irish sport, converted every chance he had to win the gold medal by beating a heavyweight field in the final.

A day before Ireland’s first game at the same venue, captain Andrew Balbirnie paid his respects to Delany and sought inspiration, the AAP reported.

“It (MCG) will always be a special place because of tonight,” Balbirnie said, according to AAP. “We did the (MCG) museum tour last night and Ronny Delany won a gold medal here. His name is forever engraved in the history of Irish sport. I hope we did something similar.”

Delany was just 21 at the time and was taking part in his first games. Delany also set an Olympic record with a time of 3:41.2. He was later inducted into the Ireland Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.

In his post-Olympic running career, which took place primarily at indoor meetings in the United States, Delany was undefeated in 40 races.

The cricket team hopes their win over England will spark a similar run.

“I’ve always said cricket is not a big game in Ireland, we are the flag bearers and we want to make it as big as possible,” said Balbirnie, who was Ireland’s top scorer with 62 runs. “But it’s definitely an absolute pleasure to play here and manage the first Irish team to ever play here.”

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