New Zealander Darren Smith has been named as the new coach of the Ireland women’s hockey team.
Smith takes up the role after spending six years as assistant coach to the New Zealand men’s team, who recently finished ninth at the Olympics in London.
The former Blacksticks international also brings vast playing experience, having represented New Zealand on 212 occasions as a player, including earning a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002.
Smith said: "I'm very honoured to be given the opportunity to work with the Green Army toward the Rio 2016 Olympics.
“This is a group of players who have been committed to making an impact on the international stage for some time and were within one match of being at the London Olympics.
"I'm very honoured to be given the opportunity to work with the Green Army toward the Rio 2016 Olympics" - Smith
“It will be exciting to meet the squad and start building toward success. I'll be focused not only on the national team results, but also on working closely within the hockey environment to help enhance the high performance program. Through this I hope to ensure our talented players succeed on the international stage.”
Ireland captain Alex Speers is looking forward to working with the new coach.
Speers said: “I am absolutely delighted on the appointment of Darren and really looking forward to working under his world class leadership.
“He is coming into the ladies squad in a very exciting time and I have no doubt his wealth of coaching and playing experience will guide the squad to consistently perform on the world stage."
Smith’s first competitive games will be in early 2013 and he is already looking ahead to fixtures.
Smith added: "The first challenge on the table is World League 2 to be held in Spain in late February. We will need to be at our best to finish in the top two of that tournament to push towards World Cup qualification. All of us want to see the Green Army competing in the World Cup and Olympic Games.”