Gene Muller has announced his retirement as coach of the Ireland national women’s hockey team and will vacate his position at the end of May.

South African-born Muller took over from Riet Kuper in October 2006 and secured Ireland their first ever Olympic Qualifier final, which they lost to Belgium 4-1 to miss out on qualification for the London Olympics.

Commenting on his decision Muller said: "I have known for some time that this Olympic cycle would be my last for Ireland. I have thoroughly enjoyed coaching the women’s national team."

Muller continued: “It has been a positive and rewarding experience. I want to thank the staff of the IHA for their support during my tenure, specifically Angus Kirkland, Fiona Mills, Dave Passmore and Katie Roche.”

Muller, who moved from Canada to take up the position, will now take some time out before making any decision about his future.

Muller continued: “I was fortunate to work with a highly professional national program support staff. I sincerely want to thank Karen Ryan, Mark Kilgallon, Daragh Sheridan, Rudi Wortmann, Guy Garrett, Lucas Piccioli, Nigel Henderson, Kate Kirby and Bronwen Masters for their contribution to our programme.

“A special word of thanks to our team manager Sally Ann Fanagan, assistant coach, Denis Pritchard and the program coordinator Joan Morgan. I value their contribution, friendship, and support immensely. I was lucky to work with them.

“My last acknowledgment is to the players of the Irish national hockey squad. Thank you for your commitment, passion, and efforts over the last few years. You always treated me graciously and respectfully. I wish you only the best in the future and will follow you with the enthusiasm of a typical Irish fan.”

The national women’s team will, after a break from International duty, continue to train for their summer fixtures including both the Investec Cup in London from 6–10 June and the Celtic Cup taking place in Lisnagarvey 29 June – 1 July.

Irish Captain Alex Speers paid tribute on behalf of the National women’s squad saying: “On behalf of all the girls in the squad I would like to thank Gene for all his work over the last five and a half years and in particular the last 18 months of CPP.

“His vision, drive and belief in this group of players brought about CPP and his hard work, commitment and dedication brought us to the final last Sunday. As captain it has been a pleasure to work with Gene and we wish him, Elise and Neev all the best in the future.”