Monday 11 December 2017

Irish ice hockey loses international recognition as last skating rink closes

David Kearns

Ireland is to lose its membership in the International Ice Hockey Federation when the Point Village ice rink closes in May.

The Irish Ice Hockey Association, which is a member of the Olympic Council of Ireland, said the closure means Irish teams will no longer be allowed to compete at an international level.

“Ireland will lose its international status with the IIHF if a permanent structure for ice hockey, and other ice sports, is not in place,” said an IIHA spokesperson.

“We’ve been working tirelessly on this issue and we’re hopeful we can get a rink back open this year to prevent this from happening.”

“Already we’ve got several of our senior teams playing against teams from Northern Ireland and the UK, and we’re looking to expand this to our junior teams in 2015.”

Ireland has competed at the Ice Hockey World championships for the past six years, with varying degrees of success.

Read More: Momentum building for National Ice Arena

The IIHA said it was working to secure a new location for a rink, adding they had identified two locations in Dublin which they felt were suitable for creating “a commercially viable ice rink.”

The group is attempting to secure funding from the Irish Sports Council for one of the sites but is facing difficultly as it is not a member of the national governing sports body.

Currently there is just one ice rink operating in Ireland. However this site up by the Point Village near the 3Arena is due to close in May following an agreement with Dublin City Council to extend its license passed December.

Speaking on RTE’s Liveline, a mother of two Irish junior ice hockey internationals said there was “little political interest” in helping the sport.

“The problem is that because it’s not a top sport in Ireland there’s no interest from politicians in getting involved,” she said.

“My sons get up at 6am to travel to Belfast to train and often don’t get back until late into the night.”

“We need facilities here in Ireland. Even Slovenia, a country of similar size to Ireland, has ten ice rinks.”

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