DURHAM seam bowler Barry McCarthy has left Emirates Riverside to pursue an international career with Ireland.

However, batsman Gareth Harte and leg-spinner Ben Whitehead will both remain at Durham until 2020 after agreeing new deals.

McCarthy has made 20 first-class appearances for Durham since joining the club in 2015, but has opted to move on in order to enhance his chances of holding down a place in Ireland’s developing international set-up.

Ireland were recently awarded full Test status, which means McCarthy is now classed as an overseas player in English domestic cricket.

Had he remained with Durham, his chances of regular involvement next season would have been limited, reducing his prospects of adding to his 29 ODI appearances for Ireland.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to be part of such an amazing club for the past four years and I will certainly miss it,” said McCarthy. “I’ve had an unbelievable experience and I would like to thank everyone at Durham for such a positive experience.

“Emirates Riverside is a very special place and I have made some fantastic friends here - I am extremely proud to have a played a part in the history of Durham.”

Durham head coach, Jon Lewis, added: “We are going to miss Barry in the changing room, pitch, and around the club. He’s got a great opportunity with Ireland to demonstrate his talent on the world stage and show what he can do.

“On behalf of the whole coaching staff, players and everyone at the club, I'd like to wish Barry every success in the future.”

Harte, who made his first-class debut against Kent in April, has signed a two-year contract extension, while Whitehead has accepted a development deal that keeps the 21-year-old at Chester-le-Street for another two seasons. 

Harte demonstrated his talent in this year’s County Championship, scoring 382 runs, including two impressive centuries against Derbyshire and Middlesex. 

Whitehead featured prominently during Durham’s successful Vitality Blast campaign that saw the Jets reach the quarter-finals. The wrist-spinner took five wickets in six matches and impressed with the ball after taking over from Imran Tahir. 

“We’re pleased to have extended both players’ contacts for another couple of seasons," said Lewis. "I was impressed with the skills they demonstrated during this year’s campaign and both have now been given the platform to continue to develop and establish themselves as first-team players. 

“Gareth proved his batting potential with two impressive hundreds in the Championship and also offers us an option with the ball, which he proved by taking six wickets across all formats.

“Ben’s bowling in the Vitality Blast was impressive and he helped us secure a home quarter-final. He’s still young, and it is now up to him to prove he can contribute."