Hockey Ireland announce New Zealand interim head coach Sean Dancer as new Ireland women's boss
Hockey Ireland have announced that Sean Dancer has been appointed as the new head coach for the Irish senior women’s hockey team.
The Australian replaces Graham Shaw who surprisingly resigned in March to take over the New Zealand women's team, seven months after leading Ireland on a magical run to the World Cup final.
Having represented Australia himself at U21 level, Dancer began his coaching career while playing for the Heracles club in Antwerp, Belgium. He became national junior head coach for the Belgian U16 women’s squad in 2007 before moving to New Zealand in 2009 to be high performance manager for the Wellington Hockey Association.
Following this, he held several roles within Hockey New Zealand, including national assistant coach to the ‘Black Sticks’ men’s squad, national junior head coach for the U21 NZ women, and national assistant coach to the ‘Black Sticks’ women’s squad.
Highlights of his tenure as assistant coach to the New Zealand women’s team include a 4th place finish at the Rio Olympics in 2016, along with securing Commonwealth gold in 2018.
In January this year, he took on the interim head coach role with New Zealand with the purpose of guiding the team into the new FIH Pro League Competition. He has handed over the reigns to ex-Ireland boss Shaw with the team within striking distance of a top four/semi-final position after the first half of the competition.
“We are delighted with the appointment of Sean, who emerged as the top candidate in a thorough and competitive recruitment process. 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” said Hockey Ireland CEO, Jerome Pels.
Speaking on the move, Dancer said he had thoroughly enjoyed his time with Hockey NZ over the last 10 years. “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.”
Commenting on the appointment Hockey Ireland high performance director Adam Grainger said, “Hockey Ireland, and the Senior Women’s Team specifically, are very fortunate to secure the appointment of Sean Dancer as head coach. 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."
Dancer's first task will be to guide the team through their FIH Series Finals which will be hosted in Banbridge Hockey Club, Co. Down between June 8th and 16th 2019 and will also be the first opportunity for the Irish public to watch the Green Army play since winning their World Cup silver medal.