Former Armagh coach Niall McCool keen to get back in dugout

The 2012 Armagh team with coach, Niall McCool
The 2012 Armagh team with coach, Niall McCool

Former Armagh Head Coach Niall McCool is set to make a return to the dugout after a two year sabbatical from domestic hockey due to the birth of his twin girls.

McCool, who is just 35 years old and still young as far as coaching goes, brings a wealth of top level coaching experience that he has acquired after a distinguished coaching career to date for being of such a young age.

At the top end he steered Armagh into the Irish Hockey League for the first time during his penultimate season in charge.

He also coached the Orchard County girls to the all Ireland indoor title and the team went on to represent Ireland in the European Championships in Prague.

McCool has also packed over five seasons as Regional Development Squad U16s girls head coach, four years coaching with the Irish U18 girls, one season on the Ulster Senior women’s coaching team into a 12-year coaching career and all of those were spent at Armagh.

While there McCool also helped the side reach several Winemark Ulster Shield Finals, a club record highest placed second in the premier league several seasons as Head coach in the IHL and has produced many of the Ulster and Ireland’s best young talent.

McCool is seen amongst his coaching peers as a meticulous an energetic young coach that builds strong relationships with his squads and invests great time and attention to detail.

He has also coached squads in competitions in Europe, mainly in Holland, and is respected at quite a few top-flight Dutch clubs.

The former Armagh Ladies coach has teamed up with some notable coaches over the years, none more so, than interim Irish men’s senior coach Mick McKinnon with others like Graeme Francey, former Holland international Janneke Schopman, former UCD and Hermes boss Mary Logue and many more.

McCool commented: “Yes, it is true I am contemplating a return to hockey, to what extent and to where I have yet to confirm.

“I will take some time in the off-season to have a good think about my options and make the correct hockey decision but also the right decision for me and my family,” he said.

“It is hard to believe I have been away from hockey for two years. I remember speaking with some coaches when I was intending to take some time out and they all agreed; a break is healthy for a coach and you come back more invigorated and hungry for the challenges that lie ahead.

“I must admit I have missed the game and I am looking forward to getting back on the sidelines.”