Fionn mac Cumhaill – better known by the Anglicised ‘Finn McCool’ – is the legendary Irish giant, reputated to have built the Giant’s Causeway and after whom the stories of Fingal’s Cave are told.
Fionn’s life changed when he slew the fire breathing fairy Aillen, leading to him being acknowledge d as the leader of his people, rivals stepping aside and even offering him compensation for his trouble.
Kevin O’Brien may not be a giant, but he is a player who has always seemed to perform slightly above where you expect him to be. When Ireland recorded their famous win over Pakistan in 2007 it was he who calmly saw the side home after the loss of 3 wickets for 5 runs threatened to derail their run chase. When they beat Bangladesh he blasted 48 runs from only 44 balls to put the Irish into an impregnable position batting first. And today he utterly destroyed England, giving Andrew Strauss an unforgettable 34th birthday.
Kevin has always laboured in the shadow of his older, smaller and more naturally talented brother Niall. But whereas Niall isn’t always regarded with the greatest of affection (when Andre Nel was suspended for throwing the ball at him, the order of sympathy went roughly (1) Nel (2) the ball (3) O’Brien), Kevin’s exploits have gone almost un-noticed outside of Ireland. Yet he has more ODI runs, more hundreds, as many fifties and an average over ten runs better than his brother.
As of today, there will be few within the cricket world who do not know his name. Fionn mac Cumhaill wrought large again. And to make things easier for him, the English even played like fairies.