A hard-fought century to Paul Stirling, a sparkling 97 from Lorcan Tucker and an entertaining 67 from Andy McBrine saw Ireland fightback from a precarious 65-5 to end Day 2 leading Essex by 17 runs.

Despite losing 3-27 in the first 10 overs of the day, Stirling (107) and Tucker put on an entertaining 175-run stand from the next 185 balls. Stirling, perhaps uncharacteristically, was prepared to play the supporting role as Tucker went on the attack. The Pembroke wicketkeeper-batter hit 15 fours and three sixes in a 99-ball attacking masterclass.

Tucker rode his luck with four of his boundaries coming through the slips cordon from the outside edge of his blade. However, he swept and drove with confidence and looked bolted on for a century, but fell on 97, flashing a cut shot straight to point, giving George Dockrell his first wicket of the day.

Stirling shortly after registered his 8th first-class century – his second century in the last two red-ball matches for Ireland. Stirling, who only joined the squad late last night, was more restrained in his approach to batting today - while his first 50 runs came off 63 balls, his second 50 took 77 balls. When eventually he skied a mistimed pull shot off Jamal Richards (5-96) which was caught at mid-wicket, Stirling had 11 fours and two sixes to his name in a 154-ball stay at the crease.

Where Stirling and Tucker put on 175 runs at a fast clip for the sixth wicket, Stirling also featured in an equally breezy 105-run stand with McBrine for the seventh wicket. Their partnership came from just 111 balls and McBrine taking the aggressor role, outscoring his partner at 2:1. The pair saw Ireland to tea and within one run of Essex’s total. At that point, Ireland had scored 304 runs in two sessions and had offered relatively few chances throughout the day.

The 400 came up with a boundary to Tom Mayes, as he (17) and Fionn Hand (48*) added a further 46 runs for the ninth wicket. Eventually Ireland was out for 419, a lead of 76 runs – which meant they had scored 381 runs in just 431 balls today.

Trying to navigate the final 45 minutes of play, Essex were stung late by Graham Hume who removed the two Essex openers to set his side up for a push for victory on the third and final day.