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Huge shock as Graham Shaw resigns as Ireland women's hockey coach

The World Cup silver medal-winning coach is taking up a role with New Zealand hockey.

GRAHAM SHAW, WHO was named RTÉ manager of the year for masterminding Ireland’s historic World Cup silver medal-winning campaign last summer, has resigned from his role as women’s head coach.

In a shock announcement on Tuesday evening, Hockey Ireland confirmed Shaw’s departure from the post just three months out from the start of the Olympic qualifying tournament.

Graham Shaw Shaw enjoyed huge success as Ireland women's head coach. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Shaw, who was in charge of Ireland for four years, will take up a role as New Zealand women’s head coach.

The news is a huge blow for Hockey Ireland, who also lost long-serving men’s head coach Craig Fulton before last year’s World Cup, with Ireland set to begin their Tokyo 2020 qualification bid in June.

Under Shaw’s tutelage, Ireland jumped from 16th in the world rankings to eighth on the back of last year’s magical run to the World Cup final in London. 

In a statement, the 40-year-old said: “It was an honour to coach my country and I am very grateful for the opportunity. We have had some incredible times together that I will never forget. I have worked with an outstanding staff over many years; your professionalism, honesty and friendship will stay with me forever.

“I would like to thank Hockey Ireland, Sport Ireland, SINI and Sport Northern Ireland for your unwavering support over the past years and long may it continue. I’d also like to recognise the staff of Hockey Ireland for all their work behind the scenes and their friendships over the past several years.

“To the players I would like to say a massive thank you. Your drive, dedication and loyalty has been relentless and it has been an absolute pleasure to lead the program over the past 4 years. I would like to wish the squad all the best for the future. I hope you continue on this journey, inspiring the next generation of hockey players in Ireland and I hope to see you in Tokyo.”

Ireland captain, Katie Mullan, added: “On behalf of the Green Army I would like to thank Graham for all that he has given to our team. He led us to a moment none of us will ever forget at the World Cup and the Blacksticks are very lucky to have him, we wish him all the best with this new adventure.”

Graham Shaw Shaw was in charge of Ireland for four years. Source: Joe Toth/INPHO

Shaw’s reputation soared over the last 12 months and his appointment as the new Black Sticks coach is a reflection of that, as he and his young family prepare to move to New Zealand. 

The position became available following the resignation of Mark Hager in early January and following ‘an extensive global search’, Hockey New Zealand this evening confirmed Shaw’s arrival.

“We were very pleased to attract such a high calibre of applicants, which was recognition of the team’s talent,” Hockey NZ board member, Shane Collins, said.

“Graham is a world-class coach and we are fortunate to have secured his services as we work towards qualifying for Tokyo 2020.”

Shaw will start his new role on 1 May, as Hockey Ireland begin the search for his successor ahead of June’s FIH Final Series tournament. 

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Ryan Bailey

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