Watch: Ireland women's hockey head coach Graham Shaw reveals why he thinks his team can get even better in 2019
Ireland women's hockey head coach Graham Shaw is confident that his team can get even better next year after a sensational 2018 season that saw the Girls in Green reach the World Cup final.
Shaw's side produced a number of memorable upsets to reach the decider in England last summer, coming up short against a strong Dutch side after a fairy tale campaign.
After receiving a number of accolades for their achievement, including winning Team of the Year at the Irish Independent Sportstar of the Year awards last week, thoughts have now turned to what the players can achieve in 2019.
Qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics is top of the list, and speaking at the Irish Independent awards, Shaw said that what he has seen from his players in recent weeks makes him confident that there is room for even further improvement going forward.
"I don't think it is going to be tough to reset for the girls," Shaw said.
"Even in the last few weeks, we've seen improvements around our gym sessions and our pitch sessions. You can very much see that the group is well focused and looking forward to 2019. Expectation is something that we expect now and a challenge is something that we accept. We are looking forward to 2019 and the challenge of qualifying for the Olympics."
Ireland's run to the World Cup final had the country captivated but Shaw says that the players did a great job in keeping next-game focused despite the growing hype around the team.
"It has been an incredible year for Irish hockey and the achievements of the girls," Shaw said.
"We stayed very process-orientated throughout the whole tournament.
"We just focused on the next game. We put together a few processes around recovery and preparation for the next game. We stuck to the same process for every game. Over there, we were very much living in a bubble."
One thing Shaw said he would like to improve going forward is the amount of access he has to his players. Although Ireland were able to reach the World Cup final, Shaw says that he has significantly less 'contact time' with his players compared to the other top nations.
"Now it is all about contact time," Shaw said.
"Can we provide an environment where we can spend more time together as a group and start building on our systems and structures of play. That is the bit we are lacking. The teams in the top 10 train three or four times a week together whereas we would get them one day a week. I'd like to increase that contact time and try to build us more as a team."