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With the Irish Women

Members of the Ireland Women's squad keep us up to date with all their latest news and action.

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Isobel Joyce: The time to depart is almost upon us

Monday November 7, 2011

Iíll say this, itís a good thing our squad gets on so well or weíd be at each otherís throats at this stage!

Barely a day goes by where we donít see each other, but when one of those rare days do come along, I find myself looking forward to training the next day so I can catch up with the girls. Itís the kind of team camaraderie that canít be manufactured and one that any team would be lucky to have.
This week is going to be a week of lasts. In the next few days we will have our last training session, last day at work or school for a few weeks and on Friday morning we had our last 6.30am fitness session before we head off, and though doing sit-ups on Sandymountís sandy beach as the sun rises is one of the more picturesque settings in which I have done fitness training, Iím not sad todayís session was the last for a while.

We presented our fitness trainer John Keane with an RSA Cricket Ireland playing shirt as a present for sharpening up our fitness - Iím not sure if heíll be wearing it to his next GAA training session though!

As the trip loomed closer a whisper rippled around the squad that Cricket Ireland might have found the funding to send an assistant coach with us.

The team met this rumour with subdued hope, knowing that an extra pair of eyes and someone else to bounce ideas off not to mention helping out in warm-ups and with videoing could really help our chances of qualifying. And thatís before you think of poor JB, stuck in a hotel in Bangladesh with no male companionship for over two weeks. I mean, he gets on great with the girls but eventually he would have to cracked up!

Nigel Pyne has been working with most of the squad in some capacity over the past few years - as Ireland A coach and more recently as assistant coach for the full side. Naturally, he was the first port of call for the assistant coach position on tour, but having taken a lot of time off already for cricket during the summer, he simply could not get yet more time off for this trip.

We all agree, though, that we have the next best assistant in current Ireland international Trent Johnston. His expertise will doubtless be invaluable to us given his experience of playing in Bangladesh during the recent World Cup. He has also been working with the squad, particularly with the bowlers, for most of the run-up to this trip, and so knows the girls very well. And if nothing else, he will be a buddy for JB who could have gone a little loopy without some male company for the duration.

As captain I am very excited that the time to depart is almost upon us. Most of the girls know what it is like to play in a major tournament this time around and are more prepared mentally and physically to deal with the demands that go with playing at this level.

We have some very exciting young players. The likes of Kim Garth and Louise McCarthy have the genuine ability to run through a team with the ball, while Elena Ticeís leg-spin has come on leaps and bounds in the short time since she switched to that code from medium pace. And there will be some familiar faces, too, to give the team an experienced look.

Clare Shillington and Cecelia Joyce are an attacking duo at the top of the order while Jill Whelan and Eimear Richardson will be two of the best all-rounders at the tournament. With expectation sky high and jittery nerves we brace ourselves for the final week of preparations.

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