Ireland World Cup star drops to Ulster Premier League to take charge at Randalstown
Zoe Wilson has sensationally jumped ship from Belfast Harlequins to take over as player-coach at Randalstown.
In a shock development, the Ireland World Cup silver medallist has therefore stepped down from the EY Irish Hockey League to return to Ulster Premier hockey.
The vacancy has arisen following the resignation of Town coach Harry McNeill, who quit last month after five years at the helm.
It will be a big challenge for his successor after the Co Antrim side struggled in Ulster hockey's top-tier last season and only avoided relegation via a 2-1 play-off win over Club KV.
It's also a massive blow for Harlequins, who could now struggle in the IHL, having lost one of their most influential players.
While not unprecedented, it's unusual for members of the Ireland squad to choose to play their club hockey outside the top-flight, either at home or abroad. Wilson says she is delighted with her move back to Randalstown, where she learned her hockey and played occasionally in recent seasons when on breaks from Syracuse University and German club Harvestehuder before she joined Harlequins.
"I'm extremely excited about my upcoming season with Randalstown and I am thrilled to return as a player-coach," said the 22-year-old.
"My ambition is to grow and develop the players and, as with every club, we are always seeking to increase our talent pool.
"Ireland head coach Sean Dancer was supportive of my move into a different aspect of the game.
"I've been developing my coaching with under-age representative teams and Ballyclare High School and now I am seeking a new challenge and I couldn't think of a better place to go.
"I enjoyed playing in the IHL with Harlequins because they are a very welcoming and family-orientated club and I carry with me some great memories from playing there."