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Gleghorne makes GB exit to take over at Inst

 

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New chapter: Mark Gleghorne

New chapter: Mark Gleghorne

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New chapter: Mark Gleghorne

Great Britain hockey star Mark Gleghorne is sensationally poised to quit international hockey and return home to Northern Ireland to take up a new job with Royal Belfast Academical Institution.

The Antrim man is understood to have accepted an offer to head up his former school's hockey coaching team, a post he will combine on a full-time basis with a PE teaching job.​

It's a major boost for RBAI as they bid to recapture the glory days when Gleghorne was part of the team that dominated Ulster schoolboys' hockey in the late 1990s and beyond. ​

Gleghorne went on to earn a combined total of 164 caps for Great Britain and England, scoring 46 goals in the process, and is generally regarded as one of the world's leading penalty corner strikers.​

He enjoyed a successful club and international career during more than a decade in England, lifting Commonwealth Games bronze medals in 2014 and 2017 along with a European Championship bronze in 2017.​

The 35-year-old, who played his club hockey for Kent-based English Premier side Holcombe, represented GB at the 2016 Olympics in Rio although they finished a disappointing ninth. ​

Gleghorne is understood to have accepted the new job offer before the 2020 Olympics were postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. ​

Had the trip to Tokyo taken place this year, the timing of his move back home would have been ideal and provided a seamless transition from the playing to coaching arena.​

But now his chances of competing in a second successive Olympics have been dashed by the postponement, although he is looking forward to the latest new chapter in his career.​

The former Instonians striker, who won two Irish Cups with the Belfast club, switched his allegiance to England and GB a few months after an unsuccessful Olympic qualifying bid with Ireland in Auckland in 2008 when he finished as the tournament's top scorer. ​

Along with fellow Ulsterman and ex-Annadale player Iain Lewers, he had to serve a three-year spell away from international hockey as the rules dictate before his GB debut in 2011.​

Gleghorne's decision to hang up his stick at international level means that there are now just two Ulster players in the GB and England squads after Lewers quit after the Rio Olympics, having also played at London 2012.

Cookstown natives David Ames and Ian Sloan, both of whom are expected to be in the squad for Tokyo next year, will carry the flag for the province.​

During his school days, Gleghorne was a Burney Cup winner with RBAI in 2003 when the Belfast side also finished runners-up in the all-Ireland Championship. ​

Since then, Inst have had limited success but there were encouraging signs last season.​

The Belfast school made it through to the semis of the Burney Cup after a long absence and Gleghorne's imminent arrival as director of hockey is an obvious statement of intent.​

Belfast Telegraph