So the curtain has been drawn on the historic Test and such a spectacle I dont think the most optimistic of Irish fans, or pessimistic of Pakistan fans, could have imagined.

Since the Test was announced there has been an aura of anticipation and dread in Irish cricket circles over the possibilities of this match. An anticipation that the greatest generation of Irish cricketers to ever exist will finally, after decades of toil, earn the accolade of Test cricket that is reserved for so few. The dread that the occasion will come too late for many of those players, an opportunity that only comes around once we are too weak to grasp it.

One thing that has never been in doubt however, was the opposition. Despite the immense pain and anguish 2007 caused for Pakistan cricket, since that fateful St. Patrick's Day the fate of our two cricketing sides have been permanently intertwined. Irish cricket would not exist if not for that Pakistan victory. It granted us a Super 8 passageway, it showed the world Ireland as a side would fight to the end with pride for everything on offer and much more importantly, it taught an island, an island where cricket has a 300 year history of strife, trouble and prejudice, one that has not entirely disappeared, that it had a team of part time amateurs who were the greatest ambassadors for our proud little island that you could ever find. I owe my presence on this forum and my love for cricket purely to that day and my father coming home and saying he heard the radio report of a possible shock on the cards in that match.

Pakistan being the right opponents for this match has never been in doubt. From that day Pakistan have been invaluable supporters of Irish cricket, three separate ODI tours, 1 famous tied ODI, 1 oh so close victory for Pakistan amongst some one sided matches but still Pakistan always returned when they easily could have snubbed us as others have. It was only fate that the team who started our journey would be the one to oppose us on the occasion when our journey, and the journey of many of the Joyces, O Briens and Porterfields, who's careers began in 2007, reached its climax. Not just for the fact of 2007, but because, although some regard it as a weakness, Pakistan have, thanks to Misbahs tenure IMO, embodied everything great about cricket for so long.

A mercurial team who could chase 500 vs Australia or collapse chasing 100 vs Bermuda. A team who, like Ireland has in the past, thankfully before my birth, known the horrors of terrorism and the impact it has on cricket. A team who have scaled the highs and plumbed the lows. A team of fans who I feel genuinely appreciate cricket for what it is and can separate the patriotic jingoism of other nations from the beauty of sport (even if some fall into the same trap as those of its neighbouring nations). A team who, even now despite the criticism, whatever the flaws and whatever England may do in two weeks, nobody can doubt their work ethic and the passion of the team and its fans. A team of pathetic bowlers and inspiring quicks alike, a team of majestic spinners and pie chuckers, a team of glorious openers and bunnies alike. A team of honest cricketers.

This event has been an event no Irish cricket fan or Irishman worth his salt will ever forget. From the elderly Irish Pakistani wearing a ginger beard and leprechaun cheering on his adopted home when they were facing the barrel, to the Irish fans jokingly cheering Ireland Zindabad, This Test has epitomised not just everything great about Irish and Pakistani cricket fans, but everything great about Test cricket. An event and sport that draws two nations of polar opposite cultures, values, religions, customs and the like together. A nation known for its drinking and a nation known for its spirituality. A nation known for its football and a nation known for its cricket. Both nations known for their natural beauty, friendliness and poetry. In times of division, pain and sectarianism Test cricket these past few days has highlighted how people from opposite divides and countries and cultures can unite and enjoy together, back each other on, appreciate each others achievements and more importantly, battle one another in mutual respect.

This Test may well be the highlight of our entire Test history. Ireland faces a very tough few years ahead when the stalwarts depart. But what a highlight and what a match Pakistan, and the Irish team themselves, have managed to give the Irish public. A match of nauseating highs where a win looked possible, a match of dizzying lows where a 5 session innings loss looked inevitable, I dont expect Ireland to win many matches in any format vs any decent nation on a regular for a long long time, but what an event we were treated to these past few days. And Pakistan more than played their part.

From showing Ireland the respect we deserved by treating it like a proper match and not a glorified warm up, from applauding Kevin on his historic, sensational innings after he walked off the field on Day 4, from grinding their teeth and making life tough for us when it looked like you could collapse and yes, even if it pains me, to snatching victory from our grasp when the Irish cricket fan was beyond ecstatic at the proceedings, Pakistan gave us here in Ireland the utmost honour that any cricket nation can bestow upon an opponent, a battling, hard fought loss. Minnow mentality you may call it, I call it proper Test cricket. No shame in defeat when the opposition simply outplay you and that, ultimately, is what Pakistan did, shaky moments or not. The ultimate honour is to force your opponent to do well and exert themselves to beat you, and that is what occurred. No shame at all.

So thank you and congratulations to @Markhor bhai despite him vanishing when Ireland were on top . Thank you @shaz619 for appreciating all sides and aspects of cricket when bias is an easier option. Thank you @Syed1 for the banter and good humour. Thank you @hur rizvi and co for the fearful comments post Day 4 which gave me much laughter seeing Pakistan fearing little old Ireland on test debut . Thank you @Mamoon and @dr bassim for the honest opinions which I always respect as nothing is more praiseworthy than giving a hard cold opinion regardless of the majority view, and thank you Pakistan. You came over, made the dreams of 699 past Irish cricketers and countless fans and an embattled cricketing fraternity here a reality. Whatever about the general Irish public, all Irish people, now and future and past, able to appreciate the majesty of the worlds greatest sport, Test cricket, will forever hold you in a special place in our hearts for coming over, playing your part in history, and earning yourselves a deserved victory. Even seeing a side of such skill, tradition and reputation as Pakistan striving for victory against a team of, 10 years ago, postmen, farmers and fabric salesmen, was an honour. Call it minnow mentality, I call it respect and appreciation.

I finished my last undergraduate exam today, and aye to back up the stereotype have knocked back more than a few, but this has been on my mind all week. This was a cricketing festival of which nobody here would have dreamt of 10 years ago, and it culminated in two teams of hard working cricketers embracing one another in mutual respect on a battle well fought. For the Irish cricketers who had tears in their eyes in managing a Test cap they never ever thought would arrive, to the Pakistan cricketers who were just relieved at avoiding a humiliating loss. When all was said and done, two teams, who have inflicted immense pain on their opposing fanbases over the years, came together as men, as Test cricketers, and delivered one of the more memorable Tests in recent years, ended a match as equals, as test cricketers. An accolade we have dreamt of for so long and finally achieved.

Thank you Pakistan. This Irish fan will never forget this match, the good spirit it was fought in and the way in which it ended. As Niall O Brien said, I only dream we can repay you the favour and bring Test cricket back home for you all too. I am certain the goodwill this match was played in will go a long way to fulfilling the dream you have all had, of a home Test series, a reality. As Niall said, see you in Lahore for the rematch, should it happen.

I'll leave this image here as a final note, a more lasting and fitting tribute to this game, and the power of Test cricket as a whole, you will never find. Thank you all, and best of luck for England. You are amazing ambassadors for the sport of cricket. Who would have ever imagined that in 2009.