Apologies to the OP of this thread for pasting this slightly off-topic stuff here:
Ireland plan first-class structure
August 24, 2011
Plans are being put in place for a first-class structure in Ireland that could pave the way for the country to become a Test nation. Although still a long way from coming to fruition, possibly a decade, Cricket Ireland believes it is a realistic aim following the team's rise in one-day international and Twenty20 cricket.
Warren Deutrom, the chief executive, confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that talk of a first-class game in Ireland wasn't just a pipe-dream and that it is a major part of the road map for cricket's future in the country. Though he was not willing to commit to a date or expand on details of any discussions that have taken place, there is a belief that the game in Ireland is becoming strong enough to support a first-class system.
"Do I think it can be achieved? If I didn't I may as well not be in the job," Deutrom said. "There is no time frame to it, but it is certainly something we want to achieve."
While Bangladesh gained Test status without a first-class competition in place - that was all to do with the Asian bloc vote and is a major reason why they have struggled to adapt to the long format - Ireland would need to prove their game could sustain a decent standard.