Mark Tumilty is keen to use his extended time as interim men’s coach to start the rebuilding process after Hockey Ireland confirmed he will stay in the role until the end of the Olympic cycle.
In the governing body’s statement, they say the permanent role will be advertised “after the conclusion of this Olympic cycle. Hockey Ireland wish to offer an opportunity for all suitable candidates to apply at the end of an Olympic cycle.
“The Head Coach position will therefore be advertised in late 2020 and at this juncture all suitably experienced Irish and international coaches with the relevant skills and experience are encouraged to apply.”
Tumilty hopes to be in that mix and says the interim role is “a fantastic opportunity” from which to make his case for the job.
He got the interim job just six weeks before the ill-fated qualifiers last October in Canada. It came in the wake of Alexander Cox’s resignation following a European campaign that ended in relegation to the second tier.
“Three or months ago, if you asked if I had a chance of coaching Ireland, I would have said ‘no chance’,” he said.
“The fact I got to take the side to an Olympic qualifier and now been given the role to work with the group further is an opportunity I grasp with both hands. Do I want it on a permanent basis? Yes, I would!”
While Ireland have no tournaments of note to look forward to until 2021, the year ahead is a vital one in terms of regrouping. Already, Eugene Magee and Chris Cargo have retired and Tumilty will be checking in with the panel soon to make sure they have Paris 2024 in their plans.
Crucially, though, the former Banbridge coach says this year is about widening his panel and trying to unearth a few gems.
“Growing the player base is key; getting more people into the squad and making it more competitive. That’s the challenge over the next six or seven months.
“There’s work to be done on the ground to see what younger players can step up. Regional and Sunday sessions are important.
“We need our Under-16, 18 and 21s all working together, trying to play the same style. We need to develop the number of players in our system and create a culture that allows us to compete higher up and go to major tournaments again. Hopefully I can play a role in developing all of that.”
A schedule of high performance matches is currently being finalised for 2020 while March sees the return of the Under-21 inteprovincials for men, something Tumilty sees as pivotal in identifying new stars.
He will be on the road watching games, collecting game video and assisting with club sessions in meantime before taking on the job full-time from February 28, putting his job with Ulster Bank on hold for the remainder of the year.