Probably long overdue but nonetheless good news that Hockey Ireland announced on Thursday the appointment of Adam Grainger as director of performance.
He will work alongside men's national coach Craig Fulton and Graham Shaw, the women's national coach. Both teams compete in their respective World Cups next year and Grainger will take up the role at the end of January 2018.
He holds a PhD, MSc, and BSc in sports science and previously worked for many years in Premiership rugby as performance manager with Sale Sharks, as well as stints with Saracens and London Wasps, when they won the Premiership in 2008.
Originally from Holywood in Co Down, he will join Hockey Ireland from his most recent role as the head of performance of the Ad Astra Elite Academy in University College Dublin, which is close to where the Hockey Ireland offices are currently located.
With the men's World Cup taking place in India next December, his input will be hugely important to the performance levels of the national players under the stressful conditions at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
At Sale Sharks, Grainger was responsible for a number of things including leading the physical preparation of the players, managing their training loads and monitoring hydration, training volume and recovery. He also regularly tested the body fat, strength, speed and power of players.
"Adam is well qualified to take the organisation to the next level, with a deep understanding of the work of high performance," said Jerome Pels, chief executive of Hockey Ireland.
“Adam has proven to be a strong leader and fully appreciates the need to build close relationships with the organisation’s key stakeholders.”
It is another step towards the sport taking a harder professional look at the athletes and giving them a better chance to perform. Both teams are now considered among the best in the world, which few sports can say.
Separately, the Neville Cup final between Three Rock Rovers and Pembroke takes place at 2pm, at Serpentine Avenue on St Stephen’s Day.