ISOBEL JOYCE has challenged the next generation to put pressure on her established stars as the Irish selectors named 31 players in National Performance and Emerging Player squads.
The 21 women named in the senior group are all in contention to be selected for the final squad for the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh next March.
While the emerging squad includes three youngsters whose fathers have captained the Ireland men's team.
"I know it was very difficult for the selectors to decide on the two squads which I take as a very positive thing for women's cricket," said 30-year-old skipper Joyce. "It shows we are beginning to gain some depth which perhaps hasn't been there in the recent past.
"The senior squad includes some new faces and I hope those players can really bring some competition into the set-up and put pressure on the players who have maybe been around for a while.
"The fact that the selectors have named 21 players on the senior performance squad is indicative of the growing strength in depth within the women's game in Ireland. It's great to have so many players in genuine contention for a place on the plane to Bangladesh."
All rounder Joyce first played for Ireland over 14 years ago, and is one of two players to have represented her country in 100 internationals - Clare Shillington being the other.
She is relishing the intense preparations that are in place ahead of a crucial year for Irish women's cricket. "Training has been going well and the girls have been putting in a big effort in the gym for the past month," Joyce said.
"We're looking forward to continuing the hard work coming up to Christmas to create a platform from which to build after the holidays in the run up to the World T20s."
Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth revealed that the playing programme for 2014 is likely to be the most intense in the history of the game in the country.
"We see 2014 as the biggest year the women's set up has ever encountered," he said.
"They will compete in their first ever World T20, play in a full member quadrangular tournament, compete in a European World Cup and World Twenty20 regional qualifier and aim to gain promotion to the ECB County Championship Division One.
"The side's preparations have been handed a major boost with an invitation to the Middle East to participate in a quadrangular tournament in January. Ireland will join three Full Member countries for 18 days playing an ODI competition which will be followed by a T20 tournament, offering valuable match practice ahead of their appearance on the world stage."
On the composition of the two squads Holdsworth added: "There is an exciting mix of very experienced players and much younger but talented players who will be making naming the World T20 a tough call for the selectors.
"These players will train until their departure in mid-March. It is important the players work together as a unit and will allow the coaches to see the skill level, work ethic and progress all together."
Coach Jeremy Bray outlined how the squads are gearing up for the challenges ahead.
"The next four months will be full of hard work for the groups," he said. "In addition to intense skills based training and testing the players are fully focused on driving fitness levels up.
"Obviously all the teams in our World T20 group are sides of high quality and will be very tough opposition. In addition the playing conditions themselves will be a challenge - everyone knows they will need to be in peak physical condition to give us the chance of an upset or two."
Emerging Players coach Nigel Pyne added: "I've been really pleased by the attitude and commitment of the younger players, all of whom have impressed everyone greatly so far in training. They are focused and learn new skills very quickly, which are key elements for a place in the travelling squads."
The Emerging Player Programme will focus on the smaller group of ten of the most talented girls who are not in contention for a national team place at this stage, but are very much seen as the future of the women's team.
There are some familiar Irish cricketing family links in the squad, which includes Trent Johnston's daughter Claudia, and also Robyn and Gaby Lewis, daughters of another former Ireland captain, Alan Lewis.
Nigel Pyne has high hopes for the EPP squad. He said: "The group is full of players with enormous potential - in my view they are some of the most talented cricketers I've seen in a long time.
"If they keep up the hard work and commitment they've displayed so far they could all end up having very distinguished international careers."
The youngsters also have plenty of cricket in the pipeline with a Development squad tour to La Manga in April as well as an Under 17 tour of Scotland later in the summer.
National Performance Squad
Clodagh Conway (Rush), Laura Delany (Leinster), Emma Flanagan (YMCA), Kim Garth (Pembroke), Fiona Gill (Malahide), Jennifer Gray (YMCA), Hannah Grieve (Lurgan), Cecelia Joyce (Merrion), Isobel Joyce (Merrion), Shauna Kavanagh (Pembroke), Amy Kenealy (Leinster), Anna Kerrison (Leinster), Louise McCarthy (Pembroke), Kate McKenna (Merrion), Lucy O'Reilly (YMCA), Rebecca Rolfe (Leinster), Eimear Richardson (Leinster), Clare Shillington (Malahide), Melissa Scott Hayward (Merrion), Elena Tice (Merrion), Mary Waldron (Malahdie).
Blathnaid Breslin (Merrion), Hannah de Burgh Whyte (Merrion), Pia Diepman (Leinster), Claudia Johnston (YMCA), Gaby Lewis (YMCA), Robyn Lewis (YMCA), Naomi Mathews (Donacloney/Waringstown Ladies), Ruby Neville (Merrion), Rhiannon Pope (The Hills), Una Raymond Hoey (Clontarf)