INF World Ranking: 22nd
As a completely voluntary organisation, with players paying out of their own pockets to fund training sessions, plane tickets and other assorted costs, Ireland's very participation in the Four Nations Tournament is in itself a testament to the girls' dedication to the sport.
On top of that, the team has built a reputation as a feisty outfit capable of punching well above their own weight. This was exemplified as recently as in the Nations Cup last December where they upset 19th-ranked Singapore with an incredible 54-53 scoreline, as well as their Netball Europe Open triumph back in 2016.
The Irish will hope to replicate their recent successes in the Four Nations, although they are wary of stiff opposition from Grenada, Singapore and hosts Hong Kong.
Interview with Genevieve Slater, Ireland Captain.
Q: How much are you looking forward to the Four Nations?
Ireland is delighted to be invited to the Four Nations tournament! We love playing internationally and as this is our first time playing in Hong Kong we're all very excited. Ireland finds it hard to get regular tough competition so playing in international tournaments like this allows us to learn A LOT about ourselves individually as players and also as a team!
We unfortunately don't get any funding for Netball in Ireland so the players pay for all costs - court hire, equipment, uniforms, physios, travel costs etc., so trying to compete Internationally can be a big ask.
Back in Aug 2017 our squad got together and planned out our next 10 months of training and competitions and the level of dedication and commitment from the girls since then has been great! So we're super excited to see what we can achieve here in Hong Kong at the Four Nations tournament!
Q: What do you know about the teams you will be playing against and how much of a challenge do you think they will be?
We actually know a bit about all these teams! In December we participated in the Nations Cup in Singapore and played against Singapore and Hong Kong.
We played Singapore twice - winning our 1st match but then losing our second! So we're well and truly out for revenge when we met again in Hong Kong! They have a strong squad who trains regularly and I think that shows. They're a well drilled team!
We also played Hong Kong at Nations Cup and were able to take the win. We really enjoyed playing Hong Kong and find they play a similar game to us. They were strong all the way through the match and kept fighting right to the end! We're looking forward to seeing the girls on court again - especially on their home court, which could change things up a little and give them an advantage!
Grenada is a little more unknown to us. We have played them before but it was back in May 2016 during the European Championships. If I remember correctly, we were up by a bit at quarter time but then lost the match!
We've improved quite a bit since then and have been doing a lot of work on getting a lead and then holding it during a match and not losing our composure. So we're definitely ready to take them on again!
Q: What would it mean for your team to take the Cup home?
It would mean the world to us! The girls have been working extremely hard considering our circumstances and we're really pushing for a top 20 ranking so we need some good wins here in Hong Kong.
To know that all those early morning starts, all those hours spent in the gym, the late nights training, all the food preparation and prehab/rehab that goes into playing internationally has paid off would be amazing! We did okay in Singapore and achieved our best result to date, but we feel the Four Nations is our chance to really shine and bring home that Cup!