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Hockey: Ulsterman Smyth set to return to lead boys

By John Flack

Published 31/10/2007

Andy Smyth has been reappointed Irish under-16 boys' coach - a timely boost as he prepares for next year's Eurohockey Nations Cup

Ireland have traditionally been strong at under age level and the Annadale boss will be hoping for more of the same next year.

Not that he was idle during the 'gap year' between tournaments as an intensive programme was put in place. And it will be even more so as the summer and the next showpiece draws near.

Smyth brings a vast array of experience to the job having also been involved with the senior Irish men's squad.

The Ulsterman was a member of head coach Dave Passmore's backroom team at the 2006 Eurohockey Nations Cup tournament in Rome.

"We are confident with the progress and development we saw in our U16 athletes last year and hope that the U16 management teams will deliver at the Europeans next year, both in individual player development and the performances of the teams who both finished in the top four last time around," said Passmore, who doubles as high performance manager.

While Smyth remains in post it's all change for under-18 counterpart Stephen Watt. The former Banbridge coach who has the best record of any under age boss has been replaced by a new face in the shape of former Malaysian international and current Old Alex ladies coach Arul Anthoni.

He arrives with a wealth of experience both as a player and as a coach having been assistant coach to the Malaysian men's side for three years and assistant coach to the South African Men's World Cup team in 2006.

"I am delighted to be involved as there is plenty of growth and potential within Irish hockey at the moment," he said.

"Arul is a fantastic appointment for us, particularly what they can bring to these athletes in terms of their own experience of playing on the world stage." said Passmore.

"He has have difficult boots to fill as Stephen Watt had unrivalled success during his tenure."

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