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Ireland's World Cup hockey heroines get new Australian head coach

 

Irish role: Sean Dancer has been named as new women’s coach
Irish role: Sean Dancer has been named as new women’s coach

By John Flack

Australian Sean Dancer has been named as the new head coach of the Irish senior women's team to succeed Graham Shaw.

Dubliner Shaw, who steered Ireland to an unprecedented World Cup silver medal finish last August, will shortly take over the same role with the New Zealand national women's team.

Ironically, Dancer is going to be moving in the opposite direction having been assistant coach with the Black Sticks for the past five years.

Since January of this year, the 44-year-old had been interim head coach after Mark Hager took over the Great Britain job.

Having represented Australia at Under-21 level, Dancer began his coaching career while playing for the Heracles club in Antwerp before moving to New Zealand in 2009 to take over as High Performance Manager for the Wellington Hockey Association.

Highlights of his tenure as assistant coach to New Zealand include a fourth-place finish at the Rio Olympics in 2016, along with securing a Commonwealth gold in his native Australia two years later.

"To be provided with the chance to lead a quality programme and team on the world stage is something that I have personally aspired to for a long period of time," Dancer said.

"I am grateful to Hockey Ireland for this opportunity and I'm excited to continue, and add to, the team's world-class performances over the last 12 months."

However, whether Dancer will be in post in time for the start of the 2020 Olympic qualifying process in Banbridge at the end of next month remains to be seen.

Hockey Ireland Chief Executive Jerome Pels explained: "We are not sure whether Sean will be available by then as we are dealing with visas and other matters at the moment."

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