Ireland were eyeing one of the great Test upsets after being set a target of just 182 to win their one-off match against England at Lord’s on Friday.
England, resuming on their overnight 303 for nine, saw their second innings end with the first ball of the third day’s play when debutant Olly Stone was bowled for a duck by Stuart Thompson.
Rain delayed the scheduled 10am (GMT) start by a few minutes but any hopes England had of adding to their overnight total evaporated when Thompson’s inswinger knocked over Stone’s leg stump.
Ireland had yet to give off the mark in their second innings when rain stopped play just seven balls into their chase.
They do, however, have two days in which to get the runs they require, with the Test scheduled for four days rather than the standard five.
Ireland are looking for their first Test win in just their third match in the format following defeats by Pakistan and Afghanistan.
They put themselves in a strong position by bowling England out for just 85 in the hosts’ first innings after veteran seamer Tim Murtagh took 5-13 on his Middlesex home ground and they then made 207 in reply.
One-day world champions England were indebted to nightwatchman Jack Leach’s 92 and Test debutant Jason Roy’s 72 before they suffered another worrying batting collapse just a week before the start of a five-match Ashes series against Australia at Edgbaston.