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Ireland will play in next year's ICC World Twenty20 after beating Kenya in a nailbiting semi-final which went down to the last over.

Chasing a mere 68 to win, Ireland made hard work of batting, having to recover from two early wickets as Kenya's seamers bowled excellently, backed up by some superb catching.

Andre Botha, arguably the player of the tournament, scored a vital 22 but a flurry of wickets left Ireland 49 for six.

But Kevin O'Brien and Trent Johnston remained composed, the former smashing Tony Suji down the ground for four to seal a place in the final and with it a ticket to England next year.

On a sunny morning, Ireland won the toss and elected to bowl first on a wicket that has produced few runs all week.

Maurice Ouma played a delightful drive down the ground in the first over but soon gave way to temptation, launching into a booming drive off Peter Connell which he sliced to third man where Alex Cusack took an excellent catch tumbling forward.

Kenya were 12 for two in the second over when Nehemiah Odhiambo played back to Kevin O'Brien - not the wisest move on a slow, damp wicket - and was given out leg before.

Kennedy Obuya, Kenya's hero in the victory over Canada, was the next to go in O'Brien's next over, top-edging an ugly heave across the line to Connell at short fine-leg who took a comfortable catch.

Kenya slipped further into the mire, 26 for four in the seventh over, following Alex Obanda's dimissal. Aiming high over mid-on, the 20-year-old seemingly scooped it over Kyle McCallan's head only for the fielder to turn, chase and claim a wonderful catch as he fell to the floor.

It was soon 38 for five when Botha struck with his first ball, Steve Tikolo being given out leg before in the tenth over.

Ragheb Aga did not last long, a huge inside edge off Cusack sending his leg stump cartwheeling out of the ground as Kenya looked in danger of being skittled out for the lowest total of the tournament, barring Ireland's rain-affected score the previous day. Jimmy Kamande followed in identical manner two balls later to leave Kenya 48 for seven.

Botha's accurate medium pace has proved a handful in Stormont and he bowled Thomas Odoyo and Peter Ongondo in successive balls as the Africans were on the verge of surrendering at 57 for nine in the 14th over. He eventually finished with 3-20.

Kenya's misery was complete in the 18th over when Suji was smartly run out by captain William Porterfield.

Ireland struggled in their reply, losing a wicket in the third over when Porterfield edged Odoyo to second slip where Tikolo took a smart catch.

Suji eclipsed that later in the over to reduce Ireland to three for two, sprinting back in chase of Gary Wilson's top-edged hook shot before diving forward to claim a wonderful catch.

With tensions mounting amid an excellent opening burst from Kenya's bowlers, Botha - who else? - gave the home support something to cheer about with a lovely cut off Odoyo which raced to the fence.

Kenya were in the game, a fine effort considering their paltry total, and a couple more wickets with Ireland 13 for two off six overs could be enough to spring a shock. Another boundary from Botha in Aga's first over, through the covers, wrested some of the ascendency the hosts' way.

At the halfway stage Ireland were 35 for two, just 33 runs short and with Botha seemingly set to see his side home. But he risked one shot too many and was bowled by Kamande for 22.

Kenya were given a further fillip when Andrew White top-edged a hook off Aga to fine-leg where Hiren Varaiya took a fine catch. The Africans had a sniff of an unlikely win two balls later when Cusack chipped to Obanda off Aga as Ireland stuttered to 42 for five with seven overs remaining.

Kenya's response to the double strike was to bring fielders in and to squeeze the Ireland batsmen, a ploy which worked as Niall O'Brien was caught at slip by Tikolo after his attempted sweep ricocheted off Ouma's gloves.

Kevin O'Brien relieved some of the pressure in the 17th over with a forcing shot off the back foot off Suji which rolled to the boundary, a shot which meant Ireland needed just 11 to win.

The experienced Johnston showed a cool head in the circumstances, rotating the strike to bring victory within sight.

It duly arrived with five balls remaining.

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