Sean Dancer has today been announced as the new Head Coach for the Irish senior women’s hockey team.
Dancer brings a wealth of experience to the role. Having represented Australia himself at U21 level, Dancer began his coaching career while playing for the Heracles club in Antwerp, Belgium.
He became National Junior Head Coach for the Belgian U16 women’s squad in 2007 before moving to New Zealand in 2009 to be High Performance Manager for the Wellington Hockey Association.
Following this, he held several pivotal roles within Hockey New Zealand, including National Assistant Coach to the ‘Black Sticks’ men’s squad, National Junior Head Coach for the U21 NZ women, and National Assistant Coach to the ‘Black Sticks’ women’s squad – where he has been positioned since 2014.
Highlights of his tenure as assistant coach to the New Zealand women’s team include a 4th place finish in Rio in 2016, along with securing Common Wealth Gold in 2018. During this period the team has also enjoyed unprecedented success with the side maintaining their world ranking and never dropping outside 6th in the world.
In January 2019, he took on the Interim Head Coach role, with the purpose of guiding the team into the new FIH Pro League Competition, with the team within striking distance of a top four/semi-final position after the first half of the competition.
“We are delighted with the appointment of Sean, who emerged as the top candidate in a thorough and competitive recruitment process. His experience and skill set will be a great asset to Hockey Ireland and we look forward to him getting involved with our ambitious high-performance plans” said Hockey Ireland CEO, Jerome Pels.
Speaking on the move, Dancer said he had thoroughly enjoyed his time with Hockey NZ over the last 10 years.
“Apart from developing some great NZ friendships, I have also had the opportunity to coach with, and learn from, some of the world’s best coaches Mark Hager and Shane McLeod. I am grateful and proud of the team’s progress and their achievements to date.
To be provided with the chance to lead a quality programme and team on the World stage, is something that I have personally aspired to for a long period of time. I am grateful to Hockey Ireland for this opportunity and I’m excited to continue, and add to, the team’s World class performances over the last 12 months.”
Commenting on the appointment Hockey Ireland High Performance Director Adam Grainger said,
“Hockey Ireland, and the Senior Women’s Team specifically, are very fortunate to secure the appointment of Sean Dancer as Head Coach. With it being mid-Olympic cycle, internationally recognised coaches like Sean with Head Coach and Olympic experience are not easily found. Sean comes into a well-established and strong management team and will no doubt have a significant positive impact as we build towards Olympic qualification.”
Hockey Ireland will host the FIH Series Finals for Women between June 8th and 16th 2019 in Banbridge Hockey Club. This tournament is the first step to Olympic qualification for the senior women’s team and will also be the first opportunity for the Irish public to watch the Green Army play since winning a silver medal at the World Cup in 2018.
Both the Senior Women’s and Men’s teams have been working tirelessly with the support of Sport Ireland, Sport Ireland Institute, and Sport Northern Ireland staff, building and preparing for the upcoming FIH Series Finals.
While home-hosted FIH Series Finals in June and Olympic Qualification are the pinnacle of a busy year, there is also the EuroHockey Championships to look forward to in Belgium this August. The Irish Senior Men’s team will also compete in the FIH Series Final in Le Touquet (France) 15-23 June 2019.