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New Ireland women's coach Dancer decides to be based up north

 

Top job: Sean Dancer will get down to work straight away
Top job: Sean Dancer will get down to work straight away

By John Flack

Ireland women's hockey head coach Sean Dancer will be based in Belfast in a departure from the norm as he prepares to take over from Graham Shaw.

His predecessors, dating back to the turn of the century - including Dutch woman Riet Kuper, South African Gene Muller and New Zealander Darren Smith - all took up residence in Dublin after their appointment.

The 44-year-old Australian will fly in tomorrow and will scarcely have time to get over the jet-lag as he will get down to work at the weekend at a national squad session in Banbridge.

However, Dancer will take his time settling in to the hot seat and will not take over the main coaching role until after the first stage of the Olympic qualifying process, being hosted at the Co Down venue from June 8-16.

Instead, former Ards coach Gareth Grundie will continue as interim head coach for the duration of the FIH World Series event at Havelock Park, while Dancer will lend a helping hand until he gets to know the girls.

"Sean expressed a preference to base himself in Belfast as he has friends in the north and, in any event, he will be travelling around the country just as he would had he decided to live in Dublin," explained Hockey Ireland High Performance Manager Adam Grainger.

The Ireland squad for the World Series will be announced at the end of the month, with 10 Ulster players - including the five World Cup silver medallists - in contention for the cut.

In addition to captain Katie Mullan, Zoe Wilson, Lizzie Colvin, Megan Frazer and Ayeisha McFerran, who all played in London, twins Bethany and Serena Barr, Leah McGuire, Chloe Brown and Gemma Frazer are in the 32-strong training panel.

Meanwhile, Ulster's men and women will be aiming to lift their respective junior inter-provincial titles in Cork this weekend and complete a double success they last achieved in 2017.

Men's Junior inter-pros (Cork Harlequins): Saturday: Ulster v Connacht (12noon); Munster v Ulster (3.30pm)

Sunday: Leinster v Ulster (3.30pm)

Women's Junior inter-pros (Cork Harlequins): Saturday: Connacht v Ulster (1.30pm); Ulster v Munster (5pm)

Sunday: Ulster v Leinster (5pm)

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