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Cricket Ireland to invest €1.5m in women's game; hands full-time contracts for the first time

Also announces extensions for head coach Ed Joyce, and home series against South Africa, Pakistan and Australia

The contracts represent Ireland's first-ever fully-professional women cricketers  •  Oisin Keniry

The contracts represent Ireland's first-ever fully-professional women cricketers  •  Oisin Keniry

Cricket Ireland has announced a detailed plan for their women's team, including a € 1.5 million investment into the game, 20 player contracts for the first time ever, extensions for head coach Ed Joyce, and home series against South Africa, Pakistan and Australia.
Laura Delany, Shauna Kavanagh, Sophie MacMahon, Cara Murray, Celeste Raack, Eimear Richardson and Mary Waldron are the seven players given international contracts. A further nine - Ava Canning, Georgina Dempsey, Amy Hunter, Gaby Lewis, Louise Little, Jane Maguire, Leah Paul, Orla Prendergast, Rebecca Stokell - have earned part-time (education) contracts. The contracts commence in March 2022 and represent Ireland's first-ever fully-professional women cricketers. They are just the second women's national team in Ireland - after the Rugby side - to get full-time, year-round playing contracts.
Their investment in women's cricket has increased by three times from 2016-19, when it was € 500,000 per annum. The increase in investment will support player contracts and match fees, coaching and support staff salaries, cost of home and away fixtures equipment, venue hire, nutrition and lifestyle management, talent pathway, and Academy and Super Series costs.
Joyce, meanwhile, will get to work in a more in-depth manner with the women's team after getting a three-year extension to his contract. He had initially taken over as coach in 2019.
Ireland are also scheduled to host South Africa for three ODIs and three T20Is in June, after which Pakistan and Australia will take part in a T20I tri-series as a build-up to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
"As a squad we are truly excited and thankful for this opportunity - it is something that many of us never would have dreamed of when we started out playing the sport we love," captain Laura Delany said. "While thankful, though, we also acknowledge the hard work, sacrifice and commitment shown by the players to achieve the honour of representing our country at the highest levels.
"Women's cricket's time has come around the world - we've seen the incredible growth and professionalisation of the women's game across several major nations like Australia, England and India and the strong focus on female cricket in the new ICC strategy. It's now Ireland's turn."
Warren Deutrom
"And, as fortunate as the players here today are for having this opportunity, we know that we are standing on the shoulders of the giants that came before us. For many years, legends of our Irish women's cricket have fought hard to achieve successes on and off the field. To the generations of women who came before us, we say thank you. You have helped us get here today, and we hope we can do you proud.
"To the squad I say simply, enjoy it. Enjoy this opportunity - be thankful, but know that you've earned the right to stand where you are. This is Day One of what I hope is an incredible journey we will take together - it may get tough at times, it may be challenging, but it should be an experience like no other. To travel the world playing cricket for Ireland - there's no better feeling."
The women's team now also has a strong core of full-time coaching and support staff dedicated to the senior side, according to a board release. The recently announced high performance specialist coaches for Ireland men's team - Gary Wilson and Ryan Eagleson - will provide periodic support to the women's programme as part of their roles.
"Coming off the back of the team's performance at the ICC Women's T20 World Cup in 2018, we - as an organisation - committed ourselves to a journey to professionalise women's cricket," Warren Deutrom, chief executive of Cricket Ireland, said. "It was not only a good thing to do, it was the right thing to do. Women's cricket's time has come around the world - we've seen the incredible growth and professionalisation of the women's game across several major nations like Australia, England and India and the strong focus on female cricket in the new ICC strategy. It's now Ireland's turn."
The part-time contracts are designed to work around players who are at school full-time or studying at a tertiary level. Players on these contracts gain a significant living allowance to ensure they do not need to find a job during their education years, and can instead concentrate on their cricket. Most of these players will be effectively full-time in the summer holidays.
There are also four non-retainer contracts - given to Rachel Delaney, Sarah Forbes, Hannah Little, Kate McEvoy - which offer players loss of earnings and match fees, 12-month medical and healthcare insurance, sports science support (strength and conditioning, psychology, performance analysis, nutrition and lifestyle management), specialist coaching support, and for ROI-based players, full access to the Sport Ireland Institute.