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Arlene Boyles: Why I'm ending Ireland duties ahead of Tokyo Olympics

 

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Stepping away: Arlene Boyles is keen to put others first

Stepping away: Arlene Boyles is keen to put others first

�INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Katie Mullan

Katie Mullan

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Stepping away: Arlene Boyles is keen to put others first

Arlene Boyles is planning to take an extended break from hockey - and perhaps a permanent one - after announcing her imminent resignation as Ireland women's manager in a shock development yesterday.

The former Pegasus and Ireland player will quit the post she has occupied since 2017 - after five years previously being employed as assistant national coach - when her latest contract expires at the end of next month.

In a bolt from the blue, Boyles will therefore miss next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo for which Ireland qualified for the first time after beating Canada in a dramatic shoot-out in Dublin last November.

Boyles says the inactivity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic which ultimately forced the postponement of the Japanese showpiece was one of the reasons behind her decision.

"It wasn't a decision that was taken lightly but with everything that's gone on in the world in the last three or four months, it was something in the back of my head anyway and Covid brought it to the front," she explained.

"Now is a good time, it's 'sticks down' with a break in hockey and it kind of realigned various things in my life and it's now time for family and friends and putting other people first. 

"Hockey is a massive part of what you do, not being at home and not being with people who guided you and that you went through your life with.

"It was actually going to your other family as hockey was and it's now time for me to step back and it was a natural break with 12 months to go before Tokyo.

"I made the decision with the idea of not going back very soon, if at all. Never say never but it's certainly not on my agenda at the moment.

"The decision has been made for various reasons and it wasn't to jump from one thing to another, it's to step away and to step away for some time."

Boyles, who won a total of 123 Irish caps and was an accomplished defender, can look back on her Ireland assistant coaching and managerial roles with great satisfaction.

A terrific role model, she helped the girls in green to unprecedented World Cup silver medals in London in August 2018 and then more uncharted territory through their Olympic qualification

Ireland captain Katie Mullan paid her a glowing tribute, saying: "Arlene has been through the best of times and the worst of times when we failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics and she will be sorely missed.

"When we won that silver medal at the World Cup, we wouldn't have achieved it without her influence and she has been such a mentor for us, firstly through her playing experience and then her coaching."

Belfast Telegraph