Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Cricket Ireland and Australia women’s cricket teams pay surprise visit to kid’s camp during cultural tour of Croke Park

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Photo Credit: Sportsfile/Seb Daly

Stars from the World Cup-winning Australia Women’s cricket team and Ireland Women’s cricket team paid a surprise visit to Croke Park today where they inspired young cricket and camogie players to follow their dream of playing professional cricket for Ireland. The two teams are set to face each other in a three-match one-day international (ODI) series which gets underway in Clontarf this Sunday. The cultural visit to GAA headquarters was organised by Cricket Ireland to introduce the Australian team to Gaelic Games and to provide young cricket and camogie players with an unforgettable coaching experience. The children, who were part of the ‘It’s Wicket!’ summer camp for 9 to 13 year olds, play cricket and camogie for local clubs in Clontarf. The skills required for both games are naturally inter-changeable, and women’s cricket has become hugely attractive to camogie players since it turned professional in Ireland last year. Cricket is only the second sport in Ireland, after rugby, to offer full-time professional contracts to women. 23 players are currently contracted by Cricket Ireland to play professionally for Ireland and the Ireland Women’s team are now ranked among the top 10 teams in the world. The ‘It’s Wicket!’ programme has been specially developed by Cricket Ireland, with the support of Certa as the new title sponsor of the Ireland Women’s cricket team, to grow the sport and to attract more young girls to play cricket. The programme gives young girls the opportunity to have fun playing cricket, to try out batting, bowling, and fielding and to develop the skills of the game. It is being delivered by clubs around the country as summer camps or six weekly sessions. Ireland’s Women’s team captain, Laura Delany and Australia’s Kim Garth, who is a former Irish international, led the ‘It’s Wicket!’ coaching session at Croke Park with the support of their teammates who took time out to sign autographs, pose for selfies and to encourage young players to follow their footsteps into the professional ranks. One of the players most in demand was Australia’s Ellyse Perry who is one of the most recognisable faces of the sport and who has the distinction of having also played soccer for Australia. Ireland stars Gaby Lewis and Leah Paul were just as popular with the young players. The upcoming ODI series against Australia is set to be one of the highlights on this year’s Ireland Women’s calendar. Australia were crowned as T20 World Cup champions earlier this year and also dominate the ICC Women’s World Cup having won the competition for a record seventh time last year. The Ireland Women’s cricket team secured a memorable win over Australia in a T20 World Cup warm-up game in February, and are hopeful of producing another impressive performance over the three-days of competition in Clontarf. Laura Delany, Captain of the Ireland Women’s cricket team, said: “It was incredible to see just how excited these young players were today. Many of them are new to the sport and everyone is looking forward to the three matches against Australia. It was great to talk about our preparations, how it is now possible for women to play cricket professionally in Ireland and to provide some coaching to help them follow in our footsteps. “The matches against the Aussies are part of the ICC Women’s Championship, and while they’ll be challenging encounters, we have a young and fearless squad who aren’t afraid to take on the big teams. We’ve played them three times in the last year, and each time we’ve given a good account of ourselves. “The goal for our players is to concentrate on getting our processes right – if we can do that, we will give ourselves a chance. One thing we learnt last year when we beat South Africa was that a good, supportive crowd absolutely can make a difference. So, I’d encourage fans to get out and support the team – get your tickets now and be backing green next week.” Ed Joyce, Head Coach of the Ireland Women’s cricket team, said: “The ‘It’s Wicket!’ programme is all about creating great experiences for young players. We want to attract more young girls to play cricket and to play for Ireland. The programme provides an important pathway and it helps young players to develop the skills of the game. The atmosphere at the camp was incredibly positive and we will take that with us as we finalise our preparations for Sunday’s opening match against Australia. “The Australians are, and have been for a good few years, the standard-bearers of the women’s game. They have kept this position by developing and maintaining high standards and discipline in their play. This is where we’ll need to match them – to focus on process and being clear about what we are trying to do. “We’ve done our analysis and planning, but it will come down to execution on the field. To that end, we’ve had a really good preparation period and the players are all keen to test themselves against the world champions. We can’t wait to get started.” Andrew Graham, Managing Director, Certa Ireland, said: “Cricket is one of the fastest growing women’s sports in Ireland and Certa is delighted to help grow the sport. The ‘It’s Wicket!’ programme promotes being active, individual skills development and teamwork and it reflects our values. The Ireland Women’s cricket team are breaking boundaries, and we are excited to support them and to nurture the next generation of players, fans, umpires, coaches, scorers, and cricket leaders”.

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