Sunday 13 October 2019

Dancer appointed to lead Irish women towards their next big step

 

Sean Dancer has been announced as the new head coach of the Irish women’s team. Photo: Simon Watts/Hockey NZ
Sean Dancer has been announced as the new head coach of the Irish women’s team. Photo: Simon Watts/Hockey NZ

Stephen Findlater

Sean Dancer has been announced as the new head coach of the Irish women's team following a five-year spell as assistant coach with New Zealand.

In that role, the Australian brings an impressive CV as part of the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold success along with a fourth-place finish at the Rio Olympics and remaining inside the world's top six.

It remains to be seen exactly when he will begin the role or if he will be in situ for the Hockey Series Finals in Banbridge in June - the next phase of the qualification process for Tokyo 2020.

As recently as Wednesday, Dancer was heading up the Black Sticks coaching staff on an interim basis in their 5-1 loss to Australia as they await the arrival of his predecessor Graham Shaw.

Shaw left the Irish coaching role in March for the top job in New Zealand having previously led Ireland to the World Cup final last summer, a gig he cited as being the "dream job" and one of the few that could have tempted him to leave the Green Army.

High performance director Adam Grainger feels Hockey Ireland are "very fortunate" to have snapped up Dancer at a particularly awkward time in the international calendar.

"With it being mid-Olympic cycle, internationally-recognised coaches like Sean, with head coach and Olympic experience, are not easily found.

"Sean comes into a well-established and strong management team and will no doubt have a significant positive impact as we build towards Olympic qualification."

On that front, Colin Stewart made the decision last week to step down from his role as Irish assistant coach having worked with the set-up since June 2016's Hawkes Bay Cup.

Irish Independent

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