Ireland cricket faces a new era after the ICC Women's World T20 in the Caribbean with four of their greatest players announcing their retirement from the international game.
The exits of opener Clare Shillington and leg-spinner Ciara Metcalfe had been announced previously, but the retirement of the twins Isobel and Cecelia Joyce was only made public after Ireland completed their final league game of the tournament. All four have had nearly two decades on the international circuit, with Shillington having debuted as far back as 1997.
On an emotional day for Ireland cricket, Shillington and Metcalfe were given two guards of honour in the New Zealand match: first by their team-mates as Ireland came out to field, and then by the New Zealand team once the game ended.
Isobel Joyce said she first thought of retiring after the ICC Women's World T20 Qualifiers in the Netherlands in July. "I called Cecelia and told her, 'Look, I think I'm going to make the World T20 my last tour, hopefully, pending selection'. And she said, 'If you are not playing, I don't want to play and I was thinking of it anyway.'"
Ireland captain Laura Delany led the tributes to the retiring quartet. "Four outstanding leaders, and today Cecelia and Isobel announced their retirement as well," she said. "The four players were so close as a group... congratulations to the four of them on outstanding careers. Their commitment on and off the pitch, no one can deny. I can't thank them enough for everything they have done for us."
I can’t think of 4 players who’ve contributed more to @IrishWomensCric than @ShillersC@CiaraJMetcalfe@izzyjoyce@CeceliaJoyce44 💚💚 I’m sure your playing days are only half the story. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for you next. #stayinthegame#leadersofthefuture— Holly Colvin (@hollycolvin10) November 17, 2018
Kim Garth echoed her captain's sentiments. "Cecelia, Ciara, Shills and Isobel have been four incredible servants of Irish cricket. And I don't think Irish women's cricket will be anywhere near it is today without them. They're going to be a huge loss both on and off the field."
All four players intend to stay involved in the game after retirement, with Cecelia Joyce focusing on her role as vice-president of Ireland's player association while the other three turn their attentions to coaching.