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Irish girls in fine fettle for World T20 qualifiers: Delany

 

By Ian Callender

While the Ireland men's side go into a seven-week break from international action on the back of a resounding defeat by India, the women's team arrived in the Netherlands yesterday for their most important tournament of the year.

The qualifier for the stand-alone Women's World Twenty20 in West Indies in November begins on Saturday morning with Ireland playing Thailand in their opening game in Group B.

Unlike their male counterparts, they go into the tournament, where they are the second highest ranked side, with a victory in their most recent match - the thrilling last-ball finish on Sunday against Bangladesh, who are ranked one place higher in the world standings and are in the other group.

The top two in each of the four-team groups go through to the semi-finals on July 12 with the winners contesting the qualifying final two days later to decide in which group they will play in the Caribbean.

Ireland's other group games are against Scotland on Sunday and first-time qualifiers Uganda next Tuesday. Bangladesh are expected to top their group ahead of Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and UAE with the top eight teams in the world awaiting the two qualifiers in the World Twenty20.

Cara Murray (17) is the only Ulster-based player in the 14-woman squad, although YMCA's Clare Shillington, 20 years her senior, was born in Belfast.

Laura Delany is the captain and after last-over finishes in all three games against Bangladesh, who won the first two by four wickets, she is confident they can follow up their six-wicket success with a big tournament.

"The way we bounced back from the New Zealand series and put on three great performances against Bangladesh shows the calibre of this side," said Delany.

"We learned, we applied these learnings and we came away with much improved results, including that last-ball win in the third match. We have a day to acclimatise and get some practice in tomorrow, then have a warm-up match against PNG on Thursday. This should give us a good lead-in to our first match against Thailand.

"It will be a trickier fixture than some may think given their recent win over Sri Lanka, but if we can play the way we know we can, then we will have a great shot at winning."

There will be one Irishman at the tournament - Roly Black is one of the umpires.

Ireland squad: Laura Delany (C), Kim Garth, Cecelia Joyce, Isobel Joyce, Shauna Kavanagh, Gaby Lewis, Lara Maritz, Ciara Metcalfe, Cara Murray, Lucy O'Reilly, Eimear Richardson, Clare Shillington, Rebecca Stokell, Mary Waldron.

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