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Smith steps down from Irish hockey
14 May 2015 16:04
Darren Smith has announced he will step down as Irish senior women’s coach at the end of World League Round 3 in Valencia in June, the key qualifier for the Olympic Games, to return to his native New Zealand to be with his family.
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His assistant, Graham Shaw, will take on the head coach role with the rest of the current management and coaching team continuing in their respective positions.
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Smith linked up with the Irish senior women’s team in January 2013 and has built a side that has undergone a transformation in recent times, becoming a highly effective attacking unit that looks in great shape to contest for an Olympic berth in Valencia.
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In 2014, the national side produced its best performance on the world stage in over a decade when they earned a silver medal at the Champions Challenge in Glasgow, beating world number eight side Korea as well as World Cup-bound South Africa.
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The side beat four higher ranked nations in 2014, ending the year with a run of seven wins in succession. The momentum carried through to World League Round 2 in March, a key step on the road to Rio de Janeiro, with six wins from six games.
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Speaking about Smith’s decision to step down, Hockey Ireland CEO Mike Heskin said: “I have really enjoyed working with Darren over the last two and half years; it has been a very exciting time for Irish hockey.
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“The upward trajectory in the performance of the National women's team is plain to see and is a credit to Darren’s coaching skills, work ethic and planning.
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“This team has seen success under his stewardship and the plans are in place to ensure this progress will continue. I would like to thank Darren for his services to Irish hockey; we are sorry to lose him but understand his desire to return to his home in New Zealand and be with his young family. I wish Darren and his wife Beth the very best in the future.”
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Commenting on his decision Smith stated: "We have loved our time in this beautiful country and are disappointed to be leaving. The warmth of the people and particularly the hockey community has made it an extremely enjoyable experience.
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"I'm very proud of the work that we have done with the team and am very much looking forward to World League 3 to see us step up to an even higher level. The team is a delight to coach and is filled with talented, committed and intelligent women who are focused on bringing success to Ireland."
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