Evan Gilligan with his medal from the tournament in South Korea
Despite the dire lack of ice hockey facilities in Ireland, the Irish U/12 ice hockey team defied the odds and impressed against some of the best players in the world at a recent international tournament in Korea.
Captained by Suncroft’s Evan Gilligan, the second year Newbridge College student gives his views on the sport.
“We need ice, we have no permanent rink in Ireland for any of the clubs around Ireland to play. We depend on temporary ice in the winter and inline for the rest of the months,” he said.
“Imagine what Ireland would be like with ice rinks, for ice hockey and ice skating. We could have tournaments, and teams come from all over the world to play. We could have clubs in every town in Ireland. My mam says with all the bad weather we have in Ireland it would be the perfect indoor sport for kids and adults to participate in.”
Evan started playing ice hockey at the age of 10, when he was living in Minneapolis in the USA. Having left Ireland with his family when he was just a toddler, the Murphys returned to Irish shores many years later.
The young sportsman pointed out ice hockey is very popular sport in the States.
“I train twice a week in Blanchardstown, Dublin on Saturday and Sunday with my club, the Flying Ducks Ice Hockey Club. In the winter we train on temporary ice in Blanchardstown and Tallaght, but when the rinks are taken down we go back to training on inline skates.”
The players only get to play on ice when they go to Belfast or visit other countries.
The recent Korean trip saw the Irish players face up against teams such as Canada and the US.
” I was so honoured to play for Ireland, and be on the Irish team as I was born here but moved to the USA when I was 15-months-old, so to play and represent Ireland when moving back here was great. My favourite moments were winning against Korea, playing with my team, meeting other players from around the world, visiting South Korea and experiencing a different culture, food.
” I loved playing on the big ice rink with my team. I also liked the hockey ceremonies where they played the Irish national anthem, that was cool, and they raised the flags for all the countries playing. We swapped jerseys at the end of the tournament I got the Korean jersey from a Korean player. I got also a medal at the closing ceremony. I scored seven goals in the tournament. Everyone played their best.”
As captain, Evan lead the warm up sessions before games and was a leader on and off the ice. His parents, Sean and Ashling are hugely proud of their son’s achievements. His sister, Noaise plays football with Newbridge Town FC and Sophie enjoys gymnastics with Panthers Gymnastics.
When asked what advice or tips would he give to someone starting to play ice hockey, the 13-year-old, who turns 14 next weekend, said; “Once you start playing its very hard to give it up. It’s a great sport, I love the speed when you are on the ice playing, and working as a team is important. It is great exercise and it’s an exciting sport to play.”