Ireland under the radar ahead of U19 Women's T20 World Cup
Amy Hunter (c), Siúin Wood (vc), Zara Craig, Georgina Dempsey, Rebecca Gough, Abbi Harrison, Jennifer Jackson, Joanna Loughran, Niamh MacNulty, Aimee Maguire, Kia McCartney, Ellie McGee, Julie McNally, Freya Sargent, Annabel Squires
Non-travelling reserves: Aoife Fisher, Alice Walsh
January 15 v West Indies at Potchefstroom
January 17 v New Zealand at Potchefstroom
January 19 v Indonesia at Potchefstroom
Key Player - Amy Hunter
Already with 24 senior international appearances under her belt, and a world record holder, 17-year-old Amy Hunter is one of the faces of the inaugural tournament.
Leading her side at the historic event, Hunter is the youngest-ever centurion in the history of international cricket, breaking Mithali Raj’s record in a 2021 ODI against Zimbabwe.
On the same day she turned 16, Hunter struck 121* (127) in what was just her fourth ODI, breaking, beating the former India captain by 205 days.
Ireland went on to seal the away ODI series as a result.
Captaining the team with senior experience, Hunter will likely bat at three to carry the team through the innings.
Hunter was “honoured” to be given the captaincy by coach Glenn Querl.
“(The Under-19 Women's T20 World Cup) is an important opportunity as it bridges the gap between underage cricket and senior international cricket.
“It gives the players the chance to perform on the world stage and gives them a chance to better understand what international cricket and World Cups are all about.”
Qualifying automatically as Full Members, Ireland’s U19s have focussed on in-house preparation ahead of the campaign, and thus there is an air of the unknown as to how they stack up against their group rivals.
The team has had a training camp at North County, with national meet-ups every weekend since mid-September, and reached South Africa early in the new year in order to find their feet on foreign soil.
Joining Hunter as a senior international in the squad is Georgina Dempsey, with the 18-year-old all-rounder boasting nine international appearances in each of the white-ball formats.
She’s only been dismissed on one occasion across six ODI innings, and has taken nine international wickets with her medium pace. Dempsey’s career highlights include the wickets of Alyssa Healy and Tahlia McGrath in a T20I spell of 2/35 against Australia in Bready, and a score of 45* in an ODI against a strong South Africa attack.
There are wraps on 18-year-old Joanna Loughran who is a consistent performer in Leinster Cricket, and the all-rounder is another Ireland player to come from a successful family in cricket: her great-grandfather Sam Crawford was also an Irish international, and has the wicket of the great WG Grace to his name.
Siúin Woods is another Leinster product, while 16-year-old Merrion bowler Niamh McNulty is one of a number of players also in the Under-17 pathway, likely eligible to take part in future iterations of the tournament.
Warm-up matches against Pakistan and Rwanda in the week leading up to the event should provide a better gauge as to where Ireland stand in the context of their group, though a Super Six qualification is by no means out of the question.