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We want Tumilty to stay, says skipper Bell

 

Ireland captain Jonny Bell
Ireland captain Jonny Bell

By John Flack

Hockey's national governing body is to advertise for the vacant Ireland senior men's head coach job in the New Year.

Ulster's Mark Tumilty took over the post on an interim basis after the resignation of Dutchman Alexander Cox, following a disastrous European Championship campaign in August.

Tumilty had just a few weeks to prepare the squad for the Olympic qualifying double-header in Vancouver when Ireland went agonisingly close to booking their tickets to Tokyo.

They were a split second away from a second consecutive Olympics only to be denied by a controversial video umpire's decision to award a penalty stroke which was converted and Canada went on to win the shootout.

Had the outcome been different, it would have been hard to overlook Tumilty but a permanent post would have had to be advertised in any event, according to Hockey Ireland.

The former Banbridge coach says he is still interested in continuing with the role and would be prepared to give up his day job if successful.

"Yes, I will be applying and I am still very interested as it's every coach's ambition to coach his country and I am no different," he revealed.

Ireland captain Jonny Bell says his former Lisnagarvey team-mate would have the support of the players, if he gets the go-ahead to continue.

"While it's hard to judge as Mark only had six weeks with a specific goal ahead of the Canada games, if appointed he would have the full backing of the squad and I believe he has the attributes to succeed in that role, " said Bell.

"Whoever the new coach is, it's going to be a very different proposition now, as the incumbent will have to rebuild a squad over two or three years.

"Qualification for the next World Cup is 18 months down the line and then we have the second-tier of the Europeans after that, so it's a longer-term task now"

Meanwhile, at domestic level, Instonians missed out on the chance to go to the summit of the Ulster Premier League when they lost 2-0 to Raphoe in Donegal.

Second-half goals from Simon Goudie and George Patterson sealed Raphoe the win after they had drawn 2-2 with Instonians at Sahw's Bridge a fortnight earlier.

The Belfast side trail North Down by two points with a game in hand but the defending champions' captain, William Robinson, was disappointed with Saturday's performance.

"We simply weren't good enough against a determined Raphoe side and credit is due to them - they fully deserved the three points," said Robinson.

"It was a tight game in which the first goal was always going to be crucial and we had one ruled out, controversially in our opinion, in the first quarter.

"It was disappointing result and is a setback to our season.

"We were a few players short and missed Mikey Watt and Stephen Kelso but we won't use that as an excuse and we need to improve in 2020 to get to where we want to be."

RESULTS: Ulster Premier League: Bangor 2 (S Hunter, M Armstrong-Sanchez) Portadown 3 (J Curran 2, M Winter); Newry 2 (K McWilliams, J Taylor) Raphoe 2 (S Goudie, G Patterson).

Intermediate League: CI 3 Harlequins 5; PSNI 4 Armagh 3.

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