EAMON O’CARROLL has resigned as head coach of Championship rugby league club Newcastle Thunder.

The 34-year-old joined Thunder in November 2020 ahead of the club’s return to rugby league’s second-tier competition for the first time since 2009.

Making the move to Kingston Park following a two-year spell as an assistant coach at Catalan Dragons, O’Carroll renewed ties with director of rugby, Denis Betts, who he previously worked with at Widnes Vikings.

During his spell with Newcastle, O’Carroll successfully preserved the club’s Championship status before overseeing the assembling of its first full-time squad for over a decade.

Thunder also achieved several firsts under his stewardship, with a maiden away win over Dewsbury Rams in 2021 and Workington in 2022 as well as a first-ever win over London Broncos last May.

O’Carroll has stepped down with immediate effect and is set to take up a new role with a Super League side soon.

Thunder’s coaching for this week’s Championship clash with Workington Town will be overseen by Betts and assistant coach Michael Heap.

Newcastle Thunder chair Keith Christie said: “I’d like to thank Eamon for his efforts with us over the last eighteen months. He is a good person, and I am genuinely sad to see him leave the club.

“He has worked tirelessly towards the betterment of the club and along with Denis has laid some firm foundations that we will now build on going forward.”

Betts added: “Eamon joined us at an exciting time for the club as we prepared for its return to the Championship, and he has been a driving force in making sure we have progressed during his time with us.

“He has created a positive training environment where players and staff are able to thrive and feel welcome and has moved the club forward from when he joined us.

“I am of course disappointed that he has decided to leave but understand the reasons and wish him nothing but the very best of the future.” 

O’Carroll said: “I’d like to say a massive thanks to the players and the staff. It has been a real privilege to be the head coach of a club and to see the change from the first day that I came into where the club is now is fantastic and I know it is only going to get better.

“To have been a small part of that success makes me happy and I just want to wish everyone the best. Thunder has a great group of players and I’ve enjoyed getting to know them, helping them develop and get to know their families as well.

Reflecting on his time at Kingston Park Stadium, O’Carroll added: “I think we have built something special, and the exciting thing is that the club are looking to add quality people as well but I’m looking forward to taking a step back now and watching as a fan and seeing the club grow and develop because I know it will.

“Keeping us up was a real highlight because it was such a difficult task and then going from part-time to full-time. The amount of work that went into that and the number of new players and staff that we had to bring in has been the highlight.

“Getting that group and when you see them every day and see how close they are that is really satisfying as a coach, and I think that is something that we really got right as a coach.

“The club knows the areas we must add and have been since we assembled the squad, we knew it wasn’t going to be an overnight success, but I know that the right people are going to be added to that.”