Hockey Ireland CEO Jerome Pels paid tribute to Graham Shaw's "enormous" contribution to Irish hockey and revealed that they had first learned on Monday afternoon that he was bound for New Zealand. 

Shaw resigned as head coach of the Irish women's team this week to take over the same role with the New Zealand women's side, ranked sixth in the world. 

The former Irish men's international guided the women's team to the final of last year's World Cup in London, defeating India and Spain on penalties en route to the decider with the Netherlands. 

Speaking on Morning Ireland this morning, Pels praised Shaw's contribution to the team's success and stressed that they wished him well. 

"His contribution has been enormous," Pels told RTÉ Sport. 

"The rise of the team has been a lot to do with his coaching and his inspiration. 

"He's been involved a long time. It was a massive success last summer and it will be very difficult to follow in his shoes. 

"He came into my office on Monday afternoon. It was the first time we heard about his plans. We need to really sit down with the team and management and discuss the next steps.

"We're delighted for Graham that he can have this opportunity. The New Zealand high performance system is very interesting for a coach to work in. So, we can see why he's doing what he's doing." 

Pels said they'd hoped that Shaw would remain in place for the Tokyo Olympics but admitted that they knew he had his suitors after last year's dramatic achievement.  

"Conversations had been heading that direction (staying for Tokyo). But we were aware with the success (of 2018) he became an attractive target for our competitors. 

"It's (a new appointment) very urgent. But we need to have a good process in place because we need to find the right person. 

"I wouldn't say it's disrupted our preparations but no doubt it's something we need to deal with and work through. The players are an excellent group, a young group and they've shown what they're capable of. That hasn't changed."