Armagh have appointed Simon Toole as their new head coach, taking over from outgoing coach Niall McCool and will be immediately tasked with gaining promotion to the Ulster Premier League after their shock exit last time out.
The side were relegated to the second tier of the Ulster provincial leagues when they were unable to fulfil a fixture with Lurgan in the Premier League, unwittingly breaking a provincial rule that saw all their results declared null and void with instant relegation ensuing.As such, they are keen to bounce back instantly. Toole has spent the majority of his coaching career at his home hockey club Lisnagarvey where he has coached within the mini and youth sections for a significant period of time, as well as enjoying a two-year spell working with the ladies first team.
In the past, he has also coached on the Ulster Hockey Talent Development Programme and been assistant coach to the Ulster Under-16’s boys team. Most recently, Toole has been the Head Coach of the Southern Sports Partnership’s Hockey Academy.
Toole works as a Coaching Consultant for Sport Northern Ireland. This role involves developing and delivering learning opportunities for coaches, supporting the development of individual and targeted groups of coaches, and supporting governing bodies of sport to develop their coaching systems.
He commented on the appointment: “The approach from Armagh to become coach was a bit of a bolt from the blue but, having chatted with members of the club committee, it became apparent what an exciting opportunity it was.
“The committee have been really welcoming and have agreed a way of working that will help me to balance my family and work commitments with my role with the team, a challenge that many coaches face.
“Armagh have a rich history of developing young players and giving them opportunities to play in their senior teams, that aligns closely to how I like to approach coaching. This, coupled with the members of the squad who’ve played for the club at the highest level of domestic club competition, should make for a really positive incoming season.”
“I am very much looking forward to meeting the players and together mapping out our aspirations and plans for the season, and obviously getting to work on the training pitch.”