Cricket Ireland has announced central contracts for 24 players for 2015, nine of whom are in the second year of a two year contract.
Donemana all-rounder Andrew McBrine and Malahide speedster Peter Chase have been given full-time category A contracts.
They join John Mooney, Max Sorensen, Stuart Thompson, Alex Cusack, Craig Young and Kevin O’Brien in the top category.
There are 11 players in the B category, with the nine county based players joined by Andrew Poynter and Graeme McCarter, who have been promoted from Category C.
Waringstown all-rounder Lee Nelson, and CIYMS opening batsman Chris Dougherty earn their first contracts in the C category, where they join Eddie Richardson, James Shannon and John Anderson.
“Player contracts have played an integral role in our success over the past few years and it’s great that we are able to award 24 this time around,” said Ireland Head Coach Phil Simmons.
“It’s makes such a difference having the guys available to us full-time, and particularly with such a vital period coming up over the next year or two.
“It’s heartening to see such a wide blend of experience in the 24, and great reward for the young players who have worked so hard on their game. They’re learning all the time and will only improve by being full-time cricketers.”
Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth commented: “With a new World Cup qualifying process commencing in April, the start of a new InterContinental Cup four-day campaign which has a new pathway to Test cricket on offer, and a World Twenty20 Qualifier this year, we were keen to increase our full-time central contracts.
“Eight players will now be based in Ireland full-time on A-category contracts, nine players contracted to English counties but available in all formats for Ireland, and seven players on part-time B and C category contracts also based in Ireland.
“With the national selectors looking for succession planning in a number of key areas, Andrew McBrine and Peter Chase have both impressed and have agreed A-category full-time contracts.
“Andrew Poynter and Graeme McCarter who were very close to world cup selection have been promoted to B-category part-time contracts, whilst Lee Nelson and Chris Dougherty have shown through the Newstalk Inter-Provincial Series that they are capable of stepping up to the next level and have been offered C-category contracts.”
Cricket Ireland Contracts: A (Full-time central contract): Kevin O’Brien*; Alex Cusack; John Mooney*; Max Sorensen*; Stuart Thompson; Craig Young; Peter Chase and Andrew McBrine.
B (Part-time central contract): William Porterfield*; Paul Stirling*; Ed Joyce*; Gary Wilson*; George Dockrell; Niall O Brien*; Tim Murtagh*; Andrew Balbirnie; Stuart Poynter; Andrew Poynter and Graeme McCarter.
C (Part-time contract): Edward Richardson; John Anderson; James Shannon; Lee Nelson and Chris Dougherty.
*Second year of 2-year contract.