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New Ireland women's hockey coach named after interesting switch-up with NZ

Graham Shaw’s successor has been announced as former Black Sticks assistant coach Sean Dancer.

New man in: Sean Dancer.
New man in: Sean Dancer.
Image: Hockey NZ

IRELAND’S 2018 HOCKEY World Cup heroes have a new man at the helm, with Sean Dancer — coming from the position of New Zealand assistant — announced as the new senior women’s head coach.

Graham Shaw, who was named RTÉ manager of the year for his exploits at the wheel in London last summer, resigned from his role in a shock departure in March.

The 40-year-old left to take up the job of New Zealand women’s head coach, after four years over Ireland.

At the time, the Green Army were just three months out from the start of their 2020 Olympic qualifying campaign, with the opening tournament on home soil this summer.

And now, with preparations in full swing for the FIH Hockey Series Finals staged at Banbridge Hockey Club from 8-16 June under the watchful eye of caretaker boss Arlene Boyles, Hockey Ireland have found Shaw’s permanent successor in Dancer.

Having worked with Hockey New Zealand over the past 10 years gathering a wealth of coaching experience, he represented Australia himself at U21 level.

Dancer began his coaching career in Belgium and worked his way up to U16 women’s national junior head coach in 2007 before making the move to NZ two years later.

Starting there as high performance manager for the Wellington Hockey Association, he went on to hold several key roles within Hockey New Zealand.

Dancer has been assistant coach to both the Black Sticks men’s and women’s squads and national junior head coach for the U21 women.

Assistant coach to the women’s squad since 2014, he oversaw a fourth-place finish at Rio 2016 and Commonwealth Gold in 2018. During that period the squad maintained their world ranking and never dropped outside sixth in the world.

In January, he took over as interim head coach there. But now, Ireland have captured his services in an interesting switch-up.

Graham Shaw Graham Shaw resigned earlier this year. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“We are delighted with the appointment of Sean, who emerged as the top candidate in a thorough and competitive recruitment process,” Hockey Ireland CEO Jerome Pels said.

“His experience and skill set will be a great asset to Hockey Ireland and we look forward to him getting involved with our ambitious high-performance plans.”

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The new Ireland women’s head coach added:

“Apart from developing some great NZ friendships, I have also had the opportunity to coach with, and learn from, some of the world’s best coaches Mark Hager and Shane McLeod. I am grateful and proud of the team’s progress and their achievements to date.

“To be provided with the chance to lead a quality programme and team on the World stage, is something that I have personally aspired to for a long period of time.

“I am grateful to Hockey Ireland for this opportunity and I’m excited to continue, and add to, the team’s World-class performances over the last 12 months.”

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.

Now, the focus is firmly on their Tokyo 2020 qualification bid in June as they look to build on that silver medal and qualify for the Olympics for the first time.

The Green Army open their FIH Series Finals campaign against Malaysia on 8 June before facing Czech Republic and Singapore in further Group A games on 9 and 11 June.

The eight-team tournament will be shown live on BT Sport, and tickets are on sale now.

Gavan Casey and Murray Kinsella are joined by Andy Dunne to get stuck into last weekend’s Champions Cup semi-finals.:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Emma Duffy

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