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Hiring Watt is a coup for Inst as they eye place in the top-flight

 

By Graham Hamilton

Instonians have made a statement of intent by snapping up former Ulster Hockey High Performance manager Stephen Watt.

The Shaw's Bridge club take their place in the new Irish Hockey League's second tier and their target is instant promotion.

The appointment of a new coach, who developed the skills of many of the current Irish squad in his previous roles, underlines their ambitions.

Watt will be joined by former Ulster Under-21 coach Mark Evans, and the youth development programme will be co-ordinated by Graham Higgin involving former internationals Paul Hollway, Paddy Brown, Mark Irwin, Neil Cooke and David McCloy, while Graeme Francey does sterling work with the youth section at Inchmarlo and RBAI.

Inst chairman Tom Reid insists his club's objectives are to win the Ulster Premier League and the IHL2, and believes the new coach will further develop the players.

"This is a great appointment as Stephen has great experience with a very successful coaching record," said Reid. "He will be a great asset as we strive to gain a place in the top flight."

Steven Redpath steps down as coach due to business pressure but remains a valuable player.

Meanwhile, Megan Frazer is facing a race against the clock to be fit for Ireland's World Cup quest which begins next month.

The Ulster woman has had further knee surgery after initially being out for 18 months.

The latest operation removed scar tissue, and she will be given more time to recover but will be unable to play in games against Germany and Canada this week.

Coach Graham Shaw named five other Ulster players in a 22-strong squad from which four will drop out before London - only Leah McGuire misses out, with Shirley McCay, Zoe Wilson, Katie Mullan, Ayeisha McFerran and Lizzie Colvin all included.

Ireland (v Germany and Canada): Ayeisha McFerran, Grace O'Flanagan, Yvonne O'Byrne, Elena Tice, Hannah Matthews, Zoe Wilson, Roisin Upton, Shirley McCay, Katie Mullan, Gill Pinder, Chloe Watkins, Lizzie Colvin, Deirdre Duke, Naomi Carroll, Ali Meeke, Emily Beatty, Anna O'Flanagan, Nicola Evans, Sarah Torrans, Sinead Loughran. Rehab: Megan Frazer, Nicci Daly.

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