Ireland Women have named a squad of 14 for their crucial ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in Thailand later this month, which includes Middlesex all-rounder Cath Dalton.
Ireland Head Coach Aaron Hamilton is relishing the challenge of his first major qualification competition: “We’ve been targeting this tournament from a long way out and playing in the ECB T20 Division One we came up against some very tough opposition. That definitely stood to the girls, we could see that during the three match series against Australia at the back end of the season where we ran the world champions close at YMCA.
“We’ve just returned from a tough training camp in La Manga and the players have been working incredibly hard over the last few months in the gym at DCU and indoors at North County, so the squad is ready to hit the ground running in Thailand.
“It’s always tough to leave people out, but the squad we’ve selected has a really good mix of exciting young talent and players who have played at this level on numerous occasions which will hopefully stand to us and we can book our place in India.”
Recently retired Irish international Alex Cusack will assist Hamilton in Thailand and the coach is only too delighted to have the Clontarf man on board.
“Alex has shown over the years just what a quality player he is and to have someone of his calibre and experience helping the squad is a tremendous boost. He’s only too willing to pass on his experience at World Cups and dealing with pressure situations and is a great asset for the squad.”
There’s one new face in the Irish camp, with Middlesex all-rounder Cath Dalton included. “Cath has recently qualified for Irish citizenship and played in our successful Super 3 series during the summer. She’s a quality player and I’m certain she will be an integral part of our team in Thailand.”
Isobel Joyce captains the team as they attempt to qualify for the finals being held in India early next year.
“The squad that has been selected has a few very young players as well as some players who have played in a number of World Cups, so we have a range of ages and experience levels which is great for the team moving forward,” said Joyce.
Joyce spoke of the benefits of spending time together in La Manga as a group ahead of the Thailand test.
“The camp was a great opportunity to gel the team together as we stayed in apartments together and lived in each others’ pockets. It was also a chance to get used to playing outside and in heat after a number of months training indoors.
Following our weekend training camp in La Manga, the squad are very focused going into the last three weeks of training ahead of the tournament in Bangkok.”
Isobel Joyce is joined by twin sister Cecelia in the squad, but their Merrion colleague Elena Tice was unavailable for the tournament. There are no fewer than five YMCA players named, with teenage sisters Gaby and Robyn Lewis joined by Jenny Gray, Clare Shillington and Lucy O’Reilly.
There are three representatives from Pembroke - Ciara Metcalfe, Kim Garth and Shauna Kavanagh - while Leinster’s Amy Kenealy and Laura Delany are also included. Wicket-keeper Mary Waldron from Malahide and Middlesex’s Cath Dalton complete the line-up.
Ireland have been drawn in Group B along with The Netherlands, Zimbabwe and China. Group A features top seeds Bangladesh, Scotland, hosts Thailand and Papua New Guinea.
The top two in each group play semi-finals with two places up for grabs at the ICC T20 World Cup in India next year.
Ireland Women Squad
Isobel Joyce (Captain) (Merrion), Cath Dalton (Middlesex), Laura Delany (Leinster), Kim Garth (Pembroke), Jenny Gray (YMCA), Cecelia Joyce (Merrion), Shauna Kavanagh (Pembroke), Amy Kenealy (Leinster), Gaby Lewis (YMCA), Robyn Lewis (YMCA), Ciara Metcalfe (Pembroke), Lucy O’Reilly (YMCA), Clare Shillington (YMCA), Mary Waldron (Malahide).
Aaron Hamilton (Coach), Sue O’Connor (Manager), Alex Cusack (Asst. Coach), Niamh Connolly (Physio).