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Shirley McCay and Andrew Smyth to lead Pegasus after Greg Thompson's shock Armagh switch


Shirley McCay

Shirley McCay

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Shirley McCay

Shirley McCay and Andrew Smyth are to take interim charge of Pegasus on the coaching front following the shock departure of Greg Thompson after three hugely successful years at the helm.

Thompson has taken over at Armagh ladies, who will be playing their hockey in the Ulster Premier League next season.

His loss is a blow for Pegasus, whom he steered to the all-Ireland play-off title in the last completed season before Covid-19 brought hockey to a standstill.

On the other hand, his arrival at Armagh is a huge boost for the Orchard County club, who last joined Pegasus in Irish hockey's top flight more than a decade ago.

Pegasus will be competing in Europe's top tier European Hockey League in October and with the new season six months away there is understandably no immediate rush to appoint a new head coach on a longer-term basis.

In the meantime, McCay needs no introduction as Ireland's most-capped sportswoman with 306 appearances to her name and a place in the Tokyo Olympics beckoning.

The 32-year-old Omagh woman is heavily involved in hockey for a living as Ulster Hockey's talent coach so her contribution on that front will be invaluable to Pegasus after her return from Tokyo.

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Smyth is also a vastly experienced coach, having assisted Thompson in recent years after a long stint as Annadale men's boss and previously been in charge of the Ireland under-18 boy's team.

Pegasus manager Gerard McIvor has spoken on behalf of the club in wishing Thompson well in his new post.

McIvor said: "It's a fantastic opportunity that allows Greg to continue his coaching and take some time back to spend with his family without the demands of national travel for away games in the Irish Hockey League."

"We are in no rush to appoint a direct replacement and will review the situation over the next number of months."

Thompson says he is looking forward to his new role and hopes that links between the local hockey school in Armagh and the club can be strengthened.

He said: "This is an exciting project that I am really looking forward to starting and I am extremely grateful to Pegasus for the opportunity over the past three seasons and will look to bring that experience into my new role with Armagh."

"Given my involvement with the Royal School Armagh 1st XI, and my knowledge of that player-base, I am excited to build upon the club's current position.

"I believe this is an opportunity to strengthen the links between school and club, which can only be beneficial for everyone involved."

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