Arlene Boyles has taken the decision to step back from her role as the Irish women’s manager in August following a remarkable 30 years involved with international teams.
In her playing days, she earned 123 caps which culminated in the 2002 World Cup in New Zealand while she also won eight Irish Senior Cups and four All-Ireland Club Championship crowns with Pegasus.
The Ulster woman subsequently moved into the coaching realm and has been part of the national setup in a variety of roles since 2010, notably acting as manager for around 150 games.
She has been hailed as a key influence by the players in their rise to World Cup silver and Olympic qualification with captain Katie Mullan leading the tributes.
“She has been such a mentor for us, first off as a player and then with her coaching experience and, more importantly, being part of successful teams,” Mullan said.
“She really bred that into us and will be sorely missed. She has been with us through the hardest times, failing to qualify for Rio, and then right through to the best times when we won that silver medal. We wouldn’t have achieved that without Arlene.”
Boyles admits it is an odd time to step back, finishing up when her contract comes to a close in August rather than hang on until next year’s Olympics.
“It is probably a strange thing for people to wonder ‘why can’t she stay on for 12 more months?’ Boyles said.
“This is now a professional sport, certainly in outlook, and there is a lot of time being spent away from home and I came to the conclusion, like a lot of people, it is someone else’s time. It’s family and friends time for me and it is a good time to go.
“Hockey Ireland has been part of my life since I was 13; 30 years later, I still find myself on the side of a hockey pitch. I wouldn’t be a big one for regrets and I like to think I put myself in a position where that doesn’t happen. It’s a huge decision for me because it has been a massive part of my life.”