Trent Johnston, the recently appointed Irish Women’s head coach, has named a 14-player squad for next month’s ICC Women's World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
It will be Ireland’s first appearance at an ICC event for nearly a decade as they look to emulate the achievements of their male counterparts.
The squad shows two changes from the one that participated in the recently concluded Twenty20 and One-Day International triangular series in Qatar. All-rounders Eimear Richardson and Kim Garth return to the set-up after missing the trip to the United Arab Emirates with Rebecca Rolfe and Amy Kenealy dropping out.
Richardson, who has spent the winter playing in New Zealand, is one of several experienced members of a squad that also contains plenty of youth. Captain Isobel Joyce, twin sister Cecilia and opening batter Clare Shillington have all played in a World Cup before, but this is Ireland’s first time at the shorter-format edition.
Ireland booked their place in Bangladesh after finishing third in the qualifying tournament last August, which was held in Dublin.
The extended 30-player group have undergone a stringent training regime in the past few weeks in preparation for the tournament under the tutelage of Johnston and former England Women’s Head Coach Mark Lane.
However, the former Ireland all-rounder admitted the decision to whittle down the squad was a near-impossible task.
"Without a shadow of a doubt, picking a squad to go to a 20-over World Cup, and then have to tell the players who've missed out is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do," he said.
"I suppose like most squads, 10 names picked themselves, but there was a lot of agonising over those last four places. I then spoke with the whole squad of 30 because I felt it was important for me to let them know personally, and explain why they hadn't made the final cut."
Johnston, who took over the reigns from Jeremy Bray in January after he hung up his bowling boots after an illustrious career, has little coaching experience but has already guided the side to a famous victory over Pakistan.
Isobel Joyce, the younger sister of Sussex skipper Ed, played a starring role in the six-wicket victory with both bat and ball and is looking forward playing in her second ICC event. The 32-year-old featured in the 1999 Women’s World Cup as a teenager.
"The final weeks in the run up to departure will no doubt be just as tough but we're enjoying the challenge and looking for every one percent of improvement we can to prepare more fully for Bangladesh.
"We can't wait for the action to begin, and we all believe there are exciting times ahead for the squad and Irish cricket," the Irish captain explained.
Ireland begin their campaign on 25th March in Sylhet against New Zealand before facing Australia, South Africa and Pakistan.
Ireland ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Squad: Isobel Joyce (captain), Laura Delany, Emma Flanagan, Kim Garth, Jennifer Gray, Cecelia Joyce, Louise McCarthy, Kate McKenna, Lucy O'Reilly, Eimear Richardson, Melissa Scott-Hayward, Clare Shillington, Elena Tice, Mary Waldron.
© Cricket World 2014