Boyles takes on lead role with Green Army

Arlene Boyles has been handed the lead coaching role with Ireland’s women on a temporary basis following last week’s shock resignation of Graham Shaw who is leaving to take charge of the New Zealand national team, writes John Flack.

At present, it’s merely an interim appointment but the former Pegasus and Ireland defender could be at the helm for an extended period as Hockey Ireland set about finding a successor to the Dublin man.

New Irish interim head coach Arlene Boyles with Chloe Watkins. Pic: Adrian Boehm

With most outside coaches who would fit the bill already committed to programmes with either the Pro League for the top nations or the 2020 Olympic qualifying cycle, finding a replacement looks set to difficult.

The first stage of Ireland’s Tokyo Olympics qualifying bid takes place at the Hockey Series Finals in early to mid-June at Banbridge, so there looks to be a good chance Boyles could still be in the job until then at least.

It seems likely, if she would want to take on the post on a full-time basis, then she would certainly be among the candidates, having acted as manager at the World Cup in London last August when Shaw steered Ireland to an unprecedented silver medal finish.

However, she is known to have had a coaching input as well, drawing upon the vast experience which earned her 123 caps and a trip to Australia for Ireland’s last World Cup adventure in 2002 since which she has had various roles with the Ireland management team for the past nine years.

Indeed, she also worked as an assistant coach with both Shaw and his predecessor Darren Smith.

“Arlene is taking the lead at the moment and we’re discussing the recruitment process and the interim situation this week with the current staff and players,” confirmed Hockey Ireland Chief Executive Jerome Pels.

“Timelines are flexible as to find the right solution, which means it may be before or after the Hockey Series Finals.”

Pels also revealed that Shaw will not be involved in any of Ireland’s upcoming high performance training sessions even though he does not start his job in New Zealand until May 1.

The last two sessions, scheduled for February 23-24, shortly after a challenging warm-weather camp in Spain were cancelled due to player unavailability.

Before Shaw leaves for New Zealand, Ireland have two training weekends scheduled for March 30-31 and April 13-14 but he won’t be involved, having also sat out this week’s camp at Bisham Abbey in England.

“It is not planned that Graham will take any (more) senior team sessions,” Pels added.

However, Shaw has revealed that he will still be working behind the scenes and will be involved in some coaching – but not with the senior team – before he heads to the southern hemisphere.

“I will be helping the team transition as smoothly as possible in the background and I will also do some work with the under-age programmes, both boys and girls and their coaches,” he explained.

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