Ireland is a step closer to fielding a Test team after the International Cricket Council awarded the country's domestic competition first-class status.
The decision to elevate the standing of the Inter-Provincial Championship was taken by the ICC chief executives' committee at the governing body's board in Cape Town, following a request by Cricket Ireland.
First-class cricket is seen as a necessary requirement for aspiring Test nations and has long been a hurdle to overcome.
Having been the leading associate nation for several years, qualifying for and impressing at several ICC world events, the news is just reward for Irish progress.
Ireland hope to play their first Test as early as 2019 - with neighbours England the mooted opponents - as discussions over expanding the format continue.,
CI chief executive Warren Deutrom said: "Playing first-class domestic cricket is a significant milestone on our long-stated journey to become a Test nation and is what the full members do - if we want to be considered among the front rank of nations, then so must we.
"It's important as firstly it elevates the perception of the competition and places the inter-pros statistically and status-wise at the same level of all first-class cricket around the world in established Test nations."