Cricket Ireland are to offer professional contracts to women for the first time. 

"A small number of part-time contracts will be offered in early 2019, with the plan to expand this programme over subsequent years," Warren Deutrom, chief executive of Cricket Ireland, 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."

"The professionalism shown by our senior women’s team during preparation, qualification and performance at the recent ICC T20 World Cup was a demonstration that this side of our sport is ready to progress and grow."

Cricket Ireland also confirmed that negotiations have progressed with other Full Member nations on international women’s fixtures in Ireland in the summer of 2019.

These fixtures will be announced in January 2019 and will be part of another important year for the sport, as they will precede the global qualifying tournament for the Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia in early 2020.

The association has also confirmed the completion of 19 men’s player contracts for the Ireland Men’s senior international squad for 2019.

A total of 19 central player contracts have been offered and accepted for 2019 - 16 full-time contracts, with three players on part-time contracts as they are still playing English County cricket.