Passmore and Kirkland join hockey exodus

Major changes are afoot in the Irish Hockey Association (IHA) after it was revealed that both chief executive Angus Kirkland and high performance director Dave Passmore stepped down from their respective roles.

With the senior men’s and women’s head coach jobs and the eastern development officer position also vacant, the IHA board are now set for a busy couple of months of interviews.

Kirkland is departing to take up a position as director general with the EuroHockey Federation, a role vacated by Irishman David Balbirnie, who was previously general secretary.

The Englishman’s tenure will be best remembered for helping Irish hockey punch above its weight to secure hosting rights for major tournaments, particularly March’s men’s Olympic qualification tournament. He will remain with the IHA until mid-October.

IHA board chairman Dennis Millar said Kirkland would be sorely missed: “He has guided us through tough financial times and leaves us in a much better state than before he arrived,” Millar added.

Kirkland had only kind words about his stint with Irish hockey yesterday: “I’ve had a fantastic time. It’s a brilliant organisation. Coming from outside of the sport, I’ve been welcomed in. It is a family in many respects as it holds itself up to be.

“I’ve learned new things every year; being a team sport, an Olympic sport has been a massive change and I really enjoyed the challenge personally and professionally.”

Passmore, meanwhile, also confirmed his decision to step down from the high performance director role, having handed in his notice in May.

He will stay in his current role until September and will still have a reduced involvement with the IHA as part of their coaches education team for one-and-a-half days per week, while also going on to lecture in Dublin City University.

Passmore steps away after 13 years in the high performance realm, seven of those in Ireland, where he coached the senior men’s team from 2005-09 and brought them from 24th to 18th in the world rankings.

“I made the decision to step down from the role soon after the disappointment of the Olympic qualifiers in March,” Passmore revealed.

“It is a challenging role that I feel I’ve given my all to over the past seven years and hope that the changes and processes put in place can lead all our national teams to future success.

“Irish hockey is indebted to its fabulous group of volunteer coaches, managers and support staff who make such a huge commitment to player development in Ireland.”

Having already advertised the eastern regional development officer role vacated by Lucas Piccioli, the IHA say the senior coach roles are currently under discussion since the departures of Gene Muller and Paul Revington, whose positions will be advertised before the end of July.

Denis Pritchard will remain as interim senior women’s coach until after the Champions Challenge I in September.

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