With hard fought wins against Luxembourg, Greece and the UAE this week, it was Ireland that brought home the gold. Over 2,000 people filled the Kockelscheuer Stadium each day in Luxembourg City to watch Ireland triumph in all three of their games. Ireland has only been competing on the World stage since 2003 and although the trophy cabinet consists of both bronze and silver medals, the significance of winning gold shows just how far Team Ireland has progressed as a unit under coaching team Jim Tibbetts and Kenny Redmond.
In the opening game on Wednesday, both Luxembourg and Ireland tested each other’s nerves and their respective netminders to the ultimate, however it was the Irish who scored first and went on to win 6-4. Dublin-born brothers Dean and Kevin Kelly really shone and were the heart of the Irish defence. Goalkeeper Kevin saved 33 out of 37 shots on goal whilst younger brother Dean was a stalwart defender throughout, killing penalties and skating his heart out. Ireland then went on to win against Greece on Thursday with a final score of 3-2 and the icing on the cake came today when the Irish team beat the United Arab Emirates 8-2 to bring Gold home for Ireland.
With a world class cross-border junior development league in full swing between Belfast and Dundalk and the IIHA Learn to Play program at full capacity, this gold medal will revitalise ambitions and dreams for young players coming through the Irish system.