Tumilty to lead Irish men’s Olympic bid

Mark Tumilty will head up the Irish senior men’s team as head coach with assistance from Jason Lee for their upcoming Olympic qualifier campaign in Canada in October.

The former Banbridge man takes on the role vacated by Alexander Cox in the wake of the European Championships.

Tumilty led the Co Down club to two IHL titles and two Irish Senior Cups as well as numerous Ulster titles in addition to a memorable EHL group win ahead of Royal Leopold and Saint Germain.

Mark Tumilty. Pic: Adrian Boehm

He stepped away from the Bann role this summer but he is delighted to take on the job for the Olympic qualifying endgame.

“I am extremely proud to be offered the opportunity to coach the Irish senior men’s team,” he said. “It has all happened very quickly and it would not have been possible for me to take this role without the support of my wife Cara, my children and my employer, Ulster Bank.

“I relish the challenge we face as a group over the next six weeks, to achieve Olympic qualification. I look forward to working with the players, coaching team and support staff. It is a difficult draw, but to play any team at this stage of Olympic qualification was going to be challenging.

“However, I feel if we can get our preparation correct in the coming weeks – both on and off the pitch – we will give ourselves an excellent opportunity to qualify for Tokyo 2020.”

Lee, meanwhile, brings with him a wealth of head coach experience. He spent a decade as England’s men’s leader before a brief spell with the women’s side, encompassing three Olympic Games and a Euro gold in 2009. He previously played in two Olympic Games in the 90s.

Speaking about the job, he said he has: “always marvelled at their unity, determination and skill. It often felt like other people recognised their strengths more than they did themselves.

“There’s nothing better than the excitement of playing in big games like this and I think my main job will be to help Mark and the team focus on showing us what they can do, and with a bit of luck, they’ll have a great chance.”

Hockey Ireland Performance Director, Adam Grainger, said: “We are delighted to have secured both Mark and Jason for these coaching positions, and we are very grateful for them both coming on board at such short notice. Together they bring a good mix of Irish and international hockey knowledge.

Jason Lee

“We have a number of camps scheduled to take place in the coming weeks ahead of the Olympic qualifiers and the team’s focus remains clear. This is a great opportunity for the players to come together and get ready to take on the qualifier at the end of October.”

Both appointments are on a short-term basis. Tumilty will be based here in Ireland while Lee will travel over from the UK as appropriate for upcoming camps.

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