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Baker stuns Irish chiefs with decision to exit top job

By David Mason

Jim Baker has dramatically departed from the post of Ireland team boss.

The Ballymena man, who had been in the job for seven years, was a huge influence both on and off the green.

His decision comes with the Home Internationals at Llandrindrod Wells looming at the end of this month.

Baker, one of the country's most decorated players, led the Irish to British success in 2009 -his first year in charge.

He injected a new confidence that helped develop the side into genuine title challengers.

"We reluctantly agreed to accept Jim's resignation," said IBA secretary John Millar.

"We wish to thank him for his efforts over the past number of years.

"Jim did a lot of work behind the scenes that a lot of people were not aware of."

Baker's assistant and current Under-25 team manager, Michael Nutt, will take charge of the team on a temporary basis.

Meanwhile, Dunluce will be missing the influential Uel McKeeman for tomorrow's big IBA Senior Cup clash against Provincial rivals Ballymoney.

"It's a game that both sides could have been doing without, coming from the same association, but we are looking forward to it," said Dunluce's Barry Kane.

Fixtures IBA Senior Cup, round three: Portrush v Bangor, Dun Laogharie v Ewarts, Old Bleach v Ballymena, Divis v Mossley, Cookstown v Larne, Falls v Blackrock, Belmont v Lurgan, Dunluce v Ballymoney.

IBA Intermediate Cup, round three: Shaftesbury v Cavehill, Dungiven v Salisbury, Ards v Musgrave, Clarendon v Sydenham, Forth River v Newcastle, Hilden v Bessbrook, Westmanstown v Curran, Belmont B v Newtownabbey.

IBA Junior Cup, round three: Ballymoney v Crumlin, Whitehead v Old Bleach, Cookstown v Carrickfergus, BETS v Letterkenny, Ballymena C v Larne, CYM v Portadown, Belmont C v Falls, Balmoral v Ards.

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