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Ireland National Thread | An Bóthar go Tóiceo 2020

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2020 Vision



Mona McSharry









Mona McSharry claims gold at European Junior Championships



It was a golden day in the pool for 2020 Vision Member Mona McSharry as she claimed the 50m breaststroke title at the European Junior Championships in Israel today.


The 16-year-old set a new Irish senior record of 30.91secs in the semi-finals and claimed top spot on the podium in the final, finishing ahead of Poland's Weronika Hellmann.


McSharry will go again in the women's 200m breaststroke heats tomorrow along with teammate Niamh Coyne.


Elsewhere, Ellen Walshe knocked over a second off her personal best in the women's 200m butterfly, finishing in 10th place overall.






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Silver Success for McSharry and Ferguson at European Juniors






There has been further success for 2020 Vision members at the European Junior Championships in Netanya, Israel this weekend.


16-year-old Mona McSharry has added a silver to the gold she won earlier in the week in the final of the women's 200m breaststroke. Not only did she smash the Irish junior record, but she eclipsed the senior mark held by Fiona Doyle on her way to silver in a time of 2:27.22 mins.


Mona has been back in the pool today, coming through the heats and semis of the women's 100m breaststroke, and establishing herself as the number one seed for tomorrow's final.


Fellow 2020 Vision member Conor Ferguson was also amongst the medals, coming home in second in the final of the men's 50m backstroke, claiming the silver medal in a time of 25.27 secs.


It is a busy summer for both Mona and Conor as they will also compete at the Senior World Championships later this month and again at the World Junior Championships.


Mona was also helping the Irish team to a superb 4th place finish in the final of the 4x100m Mixed Medley Relay in a new Irish junior record time of 3:54.75 mins.


Ireland has now claimed a gold and two silvers from these championships with Mona looking to add to her tally in the women's 100m breaststroke final tomorrow. Best of luck to her!














Edited by OlympicIRL
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Ireland Awarded Test Cricket Status









Irish cricket has reached the proverbial promised-land with the news that they have been awarded International Test Cricket status. The International Cricket Council voted unanimously to hand Test status to Ireland and Afghanistan, who will now become just the 11th and 12th members of the lucrative Test Cricket club.


It is the first time a nation has been added to the list of Test Cricket members since Bangladesh were given Test status in 2000.


Ireland had given the ICC food for thought in recent years by repeatedly causing huge upsets at World Cup level, with the then Associate-member side defeating giants Pakistan, Bangladesh, England and the West Indies in the last three successive World Cups as well as drawing with Zimbabwe in the 2007 edition, each of those being Test nations.


ICC chief-executive David Richardson congratulated the new Test members:


“I’d like to congratulate Afghanistan and Ireland on their Full Membership status which is the result of their dedication to improving performance both off and on the field resulting in the significant development and growth of cricket in their respective countries. Both have clearly demonstrated they meet the new criteria and as such have made the progression to Full Membership.”




With Ireland now getting access to play the world's best teams on a regular basis and a larger slice of funding, it is hoped that Irish cricket will continue it's dramatic progress in the years to come. Also with the carrot of Test Status no longer a prize beyond the reach of aspiring Irish players, it is hoped that Ireland will now be able to hold on to all of their best players who in the past lost players who went to England in order to get a chance of playing Test cricket.


Well done guys, very well deserved :)




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Irish Pentathletes Retain Mixed Relay World Cup Title









Arthur Lanigan-O'Keeffe and Natalya Coyle retained the Mixed Relay World Cup title in Lithuania last weekend. The Irish pair built up a 23-second advantage going into the combined shoot and run event which proved enough to see them claim gold for the second successive year at the World Cup Final.


The Irish duo are continuing their fine form into this season having both enjoyed a successful Rio Olympics (Arthur finished 8th and Natalya 6th in their respective individual events).


There was more good news for Arthur and Natalya this week with the news that they are to be upgraded to the bronze medal for the 2015 World Championships after a failed drugs test from Russian Maksim Kustov. There were mixed emotions from the news with Arthur commenting:


Delighted although at the same time devastated! My grandad & mum traveled to watch that competition & that moment was stolen from us!



Natalya expressed similar sentiments:


We've just been awarded a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BRONZE medal from 2015! Happy yet sad we couldn't celebrate on the day.



Elsewhere, there were encouraging results from two other Irish pentathletes with Sive Brassil placing 19th and Kate Coleman-Lenehan coming home 25th in the World Cup final in what is proving to be a breakthrough season for both.



Great results for Irish pentathlon this season. Long may it continue :)


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2020 Vision




Akpe-Moses claims 100m Gold at European Juniors






It was a weekend to remember for Ireland's Gina Akpe-Moses as she stormed to gold in the final of the women's 100m at the European u20 Championships in Grosseto, Italy.


18-year-old, Gina, who we are tracking as part of our 2020 Vision project here on Totallympics, posted a personal best time of 11.56 secs in the semi-finals. Although conditions in the final were not conducive to fast times it was all about taking home silverware and she could not have delivered a better result, claiming gold and the European junior women's 100m title in 11.71 secs, seeing off the challenge of Germany Keshia Kwadwo in the final 20m. Her Irish teammate Ciara Neville came home in 7th place, a rare sight to see two Irish contesting a sprint final!


It's another stepping stone for Gina on the way to hopefully qualifying for Tokyo 2020 and follows on from her success at the EYOF in 2015, where she claimed silver in both the 100m and 200m. Gina and Ciara were also in action this afternoon in the final of the women's 4x100m relay finishing just outside the medal in 4th place. Hopefully this points towards a bright future for Irish sprinting.



Here you can watch a replay of that glorious gold-medal winning moment for Gina :)




Post-race interview with a delighted Gina:




Ciara Neville congratulating an emotional Gina after the race








Gina with her gold medal




Congrats Gina, very proud moment for our athletics :)


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The Fighting Irish

Despite lack of ice, hockey in Ireland alive


Aaron Guli, Paul Cummins and Damien Roche defend against Morocco’s Redouan Bouhdid in front of Irish goalie Chris Devine.


Ireland had a short history of World Championship play at the lower levels between 2004 and 2013. While the shutdown of the Republic of Ireland’s last rink caused a meltdown for Irish ice hockey, enthusiasts fight to keep the Irish ice hockey family alive.

“A few years after the closing of the rink nothing was really happening. Since the current executive board took over four-and-a-half years ago we started building up with youth hockey. The last two years we have been successful with senior hockey too,” said Aaron Guli, the President of the Irish Ice Hockey Association, who also serves as both player (although a soon-to-be-retired one as he added) and team manager for the men’s national team that currently plays at the 2017 Development Cup, an initiative of smaller IIHF members that established a tournament among themselves.

“The level starts to pick up. We started with four teams, now we have 11 teams in the Cross-Border Cup,” he said. In that competition seven teams play from the Republic of Ireland and four from Northern Ireland (UK) with all games being played in the Belfast area in Northern Ireland.

In Andorra the men’s national team plays for international honours for the first time in four years. While the other countries come from warmer places, Ireland geographically doesn’t exactly look like an exotic place for ice sports. The capital of Dublin is at a similar latitude like hockey places such as Astana, Berlin, Edmonton, Minsk, Saskatoon, Sheffield or Ufa. And then there were players of Irish heritage in the NHL. And in the state of Indiana, USA, the University of Notre Dame’s sports teams are nicknamed the “Fighting Irish”, including their NCAA ice hockey team.

However, opposed to all these places the Republic of Ireland just has lacked an ice rink for the past seven years. And that’s obviously a major problem to keep the sport striving.

“Mismanagement with too many owners led to the closure in 2010. The arena is not used anymore but the boards and the Zamboni are still there. There’s a business plan ready to meet for a possible re-opening,” he said about the former ice rink in Dunedin.

The first games in Ireland were played in the ‘80s and the Irish Ice Hockey Association joined the IIHF in 1996. The country got a permanent full-size rink in 2006 with the Dundalk Ice Dome that also hosted the 2007 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division III. A sell-out crowd of 1,522 saw how Ireland beat Luxemburg 4-3 in shootout to earn promotion to the Division II level for one year. In 2010 the Irish earned promotion again a few weeks before the rink halfway between the country’s capital of Dublin and the Northern Irish capital of Belfast shut its doors.

The national team couldn’t keep momentum and hasn’t played in the World Championship program since 2013. Once there were 1,100 players in the Republic of Ireland. Without an ice rink many quit the sport or turned to inline hockey. According to Guli 400 players are still active and play ice hockey in exile in the Belfast area. Belfast is a little less than two hours away by car from the Irish capital of Dublin and about one hour from the former hockey town of Dundalk.

“We started a recreational league, now the national team players get 15 games a season,” Guli said.

Most players come from the Republic of Ireland while goaltender Chris Devine is from Northern Ireland, Ian Courtney plays in London, England, 2000-born Thomas Carpenter for Swiss fourth-tier team HC Chateau d'Oex and Declan Weir for German minor-league team EA Schongau. Two players (Paul Cummins, Niall McEvoy) played for the senior national team in IIHF play and Vytautas Lukosevicius, who emigrated to Ireland in 2007, represented his native country Lithuania at Division I level until 2004.

To get back to former heights, the IIHA is not only in discussion with the Dundalk ice rink owners but also for a new rink in the country’s capital.

“We are talking with potential investors for a rink in Dublin. We met with them and with Sport Ireland. The investors are looking for 2,500 seats to put in a professional team,” Guli said. Professional team, that would ideally mean one playing in the top British contest, the Elite Ice Hockey League. And a possible derby with the Northern Irish neighbours. “The Belfast Giants would love it!” Guli said.

Until then the Irish try to grow the program with playing in exile.

“We keep the kids going so that there’s a clear pathway now. That’s why we pushed with the Development Cup that we have a senior national team going for them to look up to,” Guli said.

The Irish had a rough start against Morocco, 10-2, but then beat both Portugal (9-4) and Andorra (5-3) on Saturday to set up a final against Morocco. The level was quite different. As Guli said, the game against Morocco was the first one with body-checking for some of the players in several years.

“We battled hard. Unfortunately we were on the wrong side of the score line. All three lines gave it a 110 per cent. I couldn’t ask for more,” Nigel Smeaton, the Cyprus-born Irish head coach who currently lives and plays in Dubai, said after the game.

For Smeaton development is the key. “We have young players. This squad will eventually feed the senior World Championship squad in the future,” Smeaton said.

After the two wins against the southern European competitors, the Irish hope for revenge on Sunday in the final against Morocco. Portugal and Andorra will play for third place.

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7 hours ago, OlympicIRL said:

Interesting read, thanks @hckosice  :yes

I haven't really heard anything about our ice hockey situation for many years so hopefully we can resume playing at some level soon, even if it is the bottom tier. Not competing at all is lamentable.


you´re welcome !


Yes, thats super cool to hear something about Irish hockey after so long time and see that there still many passionate peoples in Ireland to try to revive this sport there. Good luck to them ! Hopefully Ireland will be back soon in the World Championships program :)


Unfortunately there not livestreams from this tournament but you can rewatch the matches in this channel  The Gold medal match played today at 11:30 will be added later too

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Ireland claim the Grand Slam with victory in Twickenham






It was a historic St.Patrick's Day for Irish sport as the men's rugby team defeated England in Twickenham to add the Grand Slam to their Six Nations title.


In a controlled performance Ireland blasted out of the blocks with first half tries from Garry Ringrose, CJ Stander and Jacob Stockdale leaving England trailing 21-5 at half-time. England, unbeaten at home in the Six Nations since 2012 had tries in either half by Elliot Daly and a stoppage-time try by Jonny May was not enough to spoil the Irish party as they ran out comfortable 24-15 winners in the end.


It is just the third time in history that Ireland has claimed the Grand Slam and follow in the footsteps of the Irish heroes of 1948 and 2009. It is also Ireland's third Six Nations title in 5 years for Joe Schmidt's men, who now lie in second place in the world rankings behind the mighty All Blacks.


What A Day!!!! Grand Slam champions 2018 :cry:  :champion:  :bounce:






















The Final Standings of the 2018 Six Nations Tournament:




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