Ed Joyce, the former Ireland and England batsman, has been named as permanent head coach of Ireland women on a two-year contract. Joyce took over as interim coach in June, but his players were unable to secure a spot at the next T20 World Cup during last month's qualifier.
Cricket Ireland opted to let the previous head coach, Aaron Hamilton, leave before his contract was up, after a poor run of form that saw them lose eight T20Is in a row. Joyce was installed ahead of the Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier in Scotland, but while Ireland managed to reach the semi-finals, defeat to Bangladesh ended their prospects of playing in the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia.
Ireland had reached the previous three Women's World T20s but came second in their group to Thailand, who went on qualify for the final against Bangladesh and reach their first major tournament. Ireland's next major focus will be in attempting to reach the 50-over Women's World Cup in 2021, with the qualifier to be held in Sri Lanka next year.
Joyce said he had "no hesitation in accepting the role", pointing to the introduction of Ireland's first part-time contracts for women earlier this year, Cricket Ireland's investment in facilities, and "the rise in profile of women's cricket and women's sport in general" as reasons for encouragement.
"While we were all obviously disappointed to have missed out on qualification for the T20 World Cup, what impressed me about the squad was the players' commitment to learn and the talent that began to emerge as the games came along," Joyce said.
"It wasn't just the senior players that stood up, but a number of the newer players to the senior team showed what they can offer. I was particularly happy with the fight the team showed in difficult positions against both Thailand and Bangladesh. Our fielding and bowling in both was outstanding and that character, being shown by a very young team, is going to be very important going forward.
"The standard of women's cricket amongst the top tier nations has grown immensely in the last five years, and we know that to remain competitive that we need to continue to build our domestic structures, and invest in skills and fitness levels. In addition, we will be working over winter on individual game plans for the players. We have experimented a fair bit over the last few months with roles and positions within the squad, and with more time we will start to see the benefits of this come through."
Joyce played 78 ODIs and 18 T20Is, before concluding his international career last year after featuring in Ireland's maiden Test. His sisters, Isobel and Cecelia, also represented Ireland for almost two decades, retiring after the 2018 Women's World T20 in the Caribbean.
He subsequently moved into coaching, working with the Ireland men's, women's and performance pathway teams. His new role will also take in responsibility for the women's academy - although Ireland are expected to appoint a deputy to help in this area.
Richard Holdsworth, Cricket Ireland's performance director, said: "We are delighted that Ed has accepted the role on a permanent basis. When he took on the interim head coach role three months ago, I said it was great to have such a world-class cricketer and budding international coach available to call upon. That applies just as much now, and we had no hesitation in offering him the opportunity. The calmness he brings, and the sense of togetherness within the team, was evident to all who saw the side in action in Scotland earlier in the month.
"With the home season coming to an end, and the Qualifier completed, Ed will now have the opportunity to further develop the skillset and mindset of the wider squad, and start to focus on 50-over cricket ahead of the World Cup Qualifier in Sri Lanka next July. He will additionally oversee the Shapoorji Pallonji Women's Academy - and to support this work we hope to soon appoint a new role to work underneath Ed that will focus on those players, the girls under-age talent pathway, and coaching support to the national team.
"We wish Ed well in the role, but we know that if he can bring a fraction of the skill, knowledge and personal determination he developed as a player to this role, then we will be very fortunate to have his leadership and influence guiding the women's squad in coming years."