Cricket Ireland is to offer senior professional playing contracts to women for the first time in 2019 after endorsing a recent decision made at its board meeting.
The men's team have received full-time contracts since 2009 when all-rounders Trent Johnston and Alex Cusack were awarded the first two deals.
That number has grown to 19 for next year, 16 full-time and three-part time for players still contracted to English county sides. Ireland under-19 captain Harry Tector of YMCA, Merrion's Tyrone Kane and Waringstown's James McCollom are the three new names on the list after a year which has seen the retirement of Ed Joyce, Niall O'Brien and John Anderson from international cricket.
Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom said: "We are delighted to become one of a very select number of sports in Ireland to offer professional contracts to women players.
“It has been an ambition of ours for a number of years, and we now find ourselves in the position to push ahead with this much-needed improvement to our sport.”
Ireland senior men's contracts for 2019: Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, George Dockrell , Tyrone Kane, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, Tim Murtagh*, Kevin O'Brien, William Porterfield, Stuart Poynter*, Boyd Rankin, James Shannon, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling*, Harry Tector, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young.
* Part-time contracts