Ireland women’s hockey coach Graham Shaw has resigned to take over the New Zealand women’s national team.
It brings an end to Shaw's four-year tenure as head coach, in which time he led Ireland to their first World Cup in 16 years, before they embarked on a sensational run to make the final.
Shaw's departure comes months into an Olympic qualification year, switching to lead the world-number-six-ranked New Zealand, who compete in the Pro League.
“It was an honour to coach my country and I am very grateful for the opportunity," Shaw said in a statement released through Hockey Ireland.
“We have had some incredible times together that I will never forget. I have worked with an outstanding staff over many years; your professionalism, honesty and friendship will stay with me forever.
“I would like to thank Hockey Ireland, Sport Ireland, SINI and Sport Northern Ireland for your unwavering support over the past years and long may it continue.
“I’d also like to recognise the staff of Hockey Ireland for all their work behind the scenes and their friendships over the past several years.
“To the players I would like to say a massive thank you. Your drive, dedication and loyalty has been relentless and it has been an absolute pleasure to lead the program over the past four years. I would like to wish the squad all the best for the future.
“I hope you continue on this journey, inspiring the next generation of hockey players in Ireland and I hope to see you in Tokyo.”
Ireland moved from 16th to 8th in the world during Shaw's time in charge. Their victories over higher-ranked opponents, the United States, India (twice), and Spain, saw them take home a World Cup silver medal after a final loss to the Netherlands.
The squad captured the hearts of a nation as the first-ever Irish team to make a major world final in any team sport, while Shaw won the RTÉ Sports Manager of the Year Award last December.
Ireland captain Katie Mullan thanked Shaw for his role in their unprecedented success.
“On behalf of the Green Army I would like to thank Graham for all that he has given to our team,” she said.
“He led us to a moment none of us will ever forget at the World Cup and the Blacksticks are very lucky to have him, we wish him all the best with this new adventure.”
Shaw previously played international hockey for Ireland, making 151 appearances, and was involved in the national coaching set-up since 2010.
Performance Director Adam Grainger said: “Graham has undoubtedly left the Green Army programme in a better place and has put the building blocks in place for the squad to continue with this cycle successfully, with the primary goal being Olympic qualification.
“Graham’s commitment to the programme, both on and off the pitch, is a testament to his character and we wish him every success in the future.”
Ireland's bid to qualify for their first-ever Olympics sees them host the first Olympic hockey qualifier in Dublin this June before they compete at the EuroHockey Nations Championships in August.