Australian-born Meredith comes with an impressive CV, having been assistant coach to the Germany side that won Olympic gold at Beijing in 2008 and this year in London. As a player he represented Australia at U21 level and played professionally for more than 15 years in Holland, Germany, England and Scotland.
His appointment was yesterday widely welcomed after a tumultuous few weeks for Irish hockey. More than €60,000 was fundraised in four days to help send the senior men’s team to next month’s Champions Challenge I in Argentina, coming amid a major backlash against the Irish Hockey Association’s board, who had previously withdrawn the side from the competition.
The lack of a coach and manager was initially cited as the main factor, before it subsequently emerged that finance was the primary stumbling block. The length of time taken to replace Paul Revington, who resigned in May, was nonetheless also a source of huge frustration for Irish players.
They are likely to have been placated somewhat by a big-name appointment with a proven high performance track record such as Meredith. He will lead the side into battle in Quilmes from November 24 to December 2, following a training camp in Amsterdam in a fortnight’s time.
Meredith will continue to base himself in Germany, allowing him to monitor the progress of his new squad, the majority of whom are based on the continent, while relying on his yet-to-be-named assistants for the inside track on the Irish-based contingent.
“I’m extremely honoured to have been given this opportunity in this new international role, to share my experience and implement my vision of excellence at all levels in our programmes,” Meredith said yesterday.
“I will certainly look to build on the encouraging progress that the Irish men’s programme has made in recent years. It’s a hugely exciting and important project to be involved with, and the prospect to work with such a motivated and dedicated group of athletes is the key motivation for my involvement.”
Irish skipper Gormley, who spearheaded the players’ fundraising drive, said: “Andrew is a world class appointment and a coach of very high calibre. I am really looking forward to working under his leadership and I am confident his expertise will push the Irish senior men’s squad further along its path of continual improvement.”
Defending the lengthy appointment process, IHA board chairman Dennis Millar felt the time taken had been worth it. “This is super news,” he said. “The process has been somewhat prolonged due to the hiatus caused by the Olympics, but the wait has been worth it.
“We have appointed a world class coach who will take Irish men’s hockey even higher in the world rankings. I wish him every success.”
Meredith has a hard act to follow in his new role; in under four years under Revington, Ireland jumped from 18th to 15th in the world rankings and came within a whisker of Olympic qualification.
The IHA yesterday said the recruitment process to find a new senior women’s coach — Gene Muller stepped down in March — is “ongoing”.