After the most sustained period of high quality results, Irish hockey was left deflated this morning as Paul Revington confirmed his decision to step away from the national panel.
During his tenure, the South African led Ireland to a record-equaling fifth place in Europe and to the brink of Olympic qualification in March, only having their hearts broken with mere seconds to go in the final against Korea.
Indeed, during his three and a half year tenure, Revington oversaw a rise in world ranking from 18th to 16th – which will rise to 15th after the Olympic Games – becoming joint-winner of the FIH Men’s Coach of the Year honour.
He took over the side in January 2009, reaching the final of the Champions Challenge II while promotion from the European ‘B’ division was claimed in Wrexham that year in impressive fashion.
World Cup qualification was missed in 2010 with a low-key third place finish in Argentina but Ireland hit new heights in 2011, winning the Champion’s Challenge II in Lille, the INSEP Five Nations – which featured world number one side Australia – and hitting fifth in the Euros.
En route, three Celtic Cups were annexed though the event was primarily used to extend the number of players in the international loop.
This was one of the more remarkable facets of his tenure, stretching the panel to over 40 players while maintaining the top-end results. Indeed, a wealth of top tier nations were beaten including Spain, Korea, Argentina and Malaysia, making Ireland consistently competitive at the top level.
In a press release this morning, Revington paid tribute to those that helped propel his side forward:
“I will look back on the past few years having shared so many great moments with many players, staff and supporters involved with the Ireland senior men’s team.
“Through an amazing collective response by players to perform for the good of a Squad we developed the Green Machine identity that has motivated and inspired so many people to support Men’s Hockey in Ireland and across the world. It has been a privilege to be a part of such an amazing squad of people.
“Thank you to the squad of players who have represented the Ireland Green Machine with so much trust, energy and quality through my tenure as coach.
“I loved every minute with the Squad and each individual player and I look forward to seeing the next phase of “fast growth” as a team and squad.”
IHA High Performance Director Dave Passmore is sad to see Revington go: “His departure is of great disappointment to all but he has left a legacy which must now be built upon to ensure the squad fulfil their potential in the future, a future that he has done so much to shape”.
Revington will remain with Irish hockey until July 2012.
** The Hook is currently en route to London to support our rugby-playing brethren. We hope to update this story in due course but please bear with us if delayed