Graham Shaw Olympic Hockey Piece: The Tallaght Echo (Online) – August 1 2021

Shaw leads New Zealand to Olympics quarter-final

Daire Walsh

While the Olympics journey for the Ireland women’s hockey team is at an end, the village of Firhouse will be keeping a keen interest on the progress of their New Zealand counterparts in the knockout rounds.

At the helm of Ireland for their march towards the 2018 World Cup final, local hero Graham Shaw subsequently left this post to take over the southern hemisphere nation the following year.

Though it hasn’t been without its speed bump, he has successfully guided the Vantage Black Sticks towards a quarter-final date against the Netherlands on Monday.

In stark contrast to his home country – who were competing at the Summer Games for the very first time – New Zealand are competing at their eighth Olympics in the Japanese capital.

Currently sixth in the FIH world rankings, they began their campaign with a convincing 3-0 win over Argentina last Sunday. Back in action a day later against host nation Japan, Olivia Merry and Hope Ralph goals propelled them towards a 2-1 victory.

This already put Shaw’s troops within touching distance of a knockout spot, but the Kiwis made life difficult for themselves in the remaining games of Group B.

After losing narrowly to 1992 gold medallists Spain on Wednesday (2-1), narrow reversals followed at the hands of Australia on Thursday (1-0) and China earlier today (3-2).

However, a superior score difference ensured they held onto fourth place at the expense of the Chinese.

Leading out New Zealand at the Olympics is the latest milestone in a remarkable sporting career for Shaw. A former student of Coláiste Éanna in Ballyroan, he picked up 151 senior international hockey caps for Ireland.

A two-time Men’s EuroHockey Nations Trophy winner in the green jersey, he took up his first coaching role with St Kilian’s German School in Clonskeagh while still an active player. Although he has worked across the men’s and women’s games, it is in the latter that he has had the greatest success as a coach.

In addition to the phenomenal achievement of reaching the World Cup final three years ago, he also guided Ireland to the Women’s EuroHockey Championship II and the Kuala Lumpur Tournament in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

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