Varian rewarded with permanent role

THE Irish Hockey Association has appointed Paul Varian to the permanent position of Chief Executive.

Varian, who joined the Association as its first Chief Executive in November 2004, had originally been appointed on a two year contract but has now joined High Performance Director Dave Passmore on the permanent payroll.

IHA Chairman John Dennis said yesterday: “Over the past year Paul’s contribution to the development of the sport has been enormous.

“This is reflected in the substantial growth of sponsorship and the continuing delivery of our key strategic objectives.

“While acknowledging there are critical aspects that still require attention and development, the Association believes Paul’s appointment is a key catalyst in achieving these goals.”

Varian said: “I am delighted to have been offered a permanent position with the IHA, which I have gratefully accepted.

“I joined the Association initially because I saw tremendous potential in the sport that was waiting to be unlocked, together with genuine ambition and a well thought-out strategic plan within the Association itself.

“We have made some good headway in Irish hockey. We have leading-edge high performance plans to develop our national teams, increase corporate sponsorship and media profile and an emerging national development plan to support the game at grass root level.

“However, much work remains to be done, particularly with regard to increased funding, development and domestic competition reform. I am delighted to be in a position to continue this work and drive this positive change for Irish hockey.”

Meanwhile, Ireland’s senior women’s team will round off their preparation for the Samsung World Cup Qualifiers in Rome this month with two fixtures against England and Italy in Manchester tomorrow and Sunday.

Reit Kuper is bringing her full selected squad, with the exception of Bridget McKeever, who is racing against time to recover from a face injury suffered against Argentina last month. Nikki Keegan travels as cover.

Ireland play Italy at 4pm tomorrow and meet England on Sunday at 11am. It will be the team’s first chance to see pool opponents Italy at first hand.

“We haven’t played Italy since the European Nations Championship Qualifier in 2002, so it will be important to have good look at them,” said Ireland captain Linda Caulfield.

“We’re keen to get results in these fixtures to boost morale and confidence going into the World Cup Qualifier in Rome, but our main focus will be to continue working on our team strategy and tighten up important game areas, particularly set pieces.

“The mood in the camp is one of determined confidence since we returned from Argentina.

“That tournament showed us that we can compete with the best and beat teams like USA.”

Caulfield is optimistic of qualifying for their third World Cup and pleased with the team’s recent preparation for the tournament: “At this point, the players are feeling physically and mentally prepared and are itching to get out to Rome and start the tournament.”

On the playing front in Munster the main focus off attention this weekend will be on the Charity Cup competition and on the Munster Senior League Division 2.

In the Charity Cup Cork Church of Ireland B and Cork Harlequins B both remain in strong contention to win the trophy, while in the Munster Senior League Division 2, Cork Harlequins C look set to be crowned champions.

IRELAND: M Goode (GK) (Cork Harlequins), A Platt (GK) (Ballymoney), F Connery (Hermes), L Caulfield (c) (Hermes), E Cregan (Push), S Beaney (Pegasus), C Carey (Hermes), Z Dahl (Old Alexandra), J McDonough (Belfast Harlequins), C McKean (Loreto), A Speers (Pegasus), C O’Brien (vc) (Railway Union), J Orbinson (Push), N Symmons (Loreto), K Elkin (Randalstown), F Ferguson (Pegasus), N Keegan (Loreto), C Parkhill (Randalstown).

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