The Ice Age cometh to Dublin
When Ice Hockey first Face-Off Officially in Dolphin’s Barn Ice Rink back in 1983. It was the Liverpool Leopards that came looking to lift some Irish Scalps off the Dublin Stags
However, strangely enough it was the Stags Christening this holy of all Holy sport with a 3-2 victory over the Leopards. Strange you may think but not when you consider the countless Irish born players who have iced in various leagues in the North American and yes even the NHL.
Well the long lasting ambition of Mark Bowes and his backers plus very able supporters have now opened a facility in Santry, Dublin in a former cold store.
Dublin was the only European City not having a permanent competitive size skating and curling rink not forgetting the Ice Hockey pad element. Before now it was a matter of travelling up to Dundalk or Dundonald and or the Odyssey Arena to get any ice time.
Thankfully that has all changed now thanks to Mark Bowes persistence hard work So now the Olympic Qualifiers, World Championships, and International games and National Championships are all now possible thanks to this revamped Cold Store Ice facility in Dublin City.
This exciting new Arena will open the world of Ice Sports to a generation of aspiring athletes while Entertaining countless generations of young people together with their families and friends.
The National Ice Sport Arena will not only host competitive fixtures but also act as a training and development centre for all Ireland’s Ice Sport athletes with the full support from the three main National governing bodies, all of who will all operate from their offices based at the Arena namely.
The IIHA The Irish Ice Hockey Association
The ICF The Irish Curling Federation
The ISAI Irish Skating Association of Ireland
The NHL-Sized Skating and Hockey Rink is fully endorsed
by the World Curling Federation, the International
Ice Hockey Federation and the International Skating
With the help of the National Ice Arena each governing body will have the ability to host both league fixtures, competitions and provide world-class training.
The National Ice Sport Arena is located directly beside the Omni Park complex. The location also offers access to the sizable footfall attracted by Omni Park not forgetting the Athletics Stadium. The synergy between both facilities creates a unique focus on sports in an area teeming with young enthusiasts.
Since Liverpool visited back in 1983 the sport of Ice Hockey has progressed to all levels. Following Ireland’s inauguration to the IIHF in 1997 the IIHA decided to take part at junior level in the IIHF World Championship Games.
Ireland travelled to Bulgaria, Luxembourg and Iceland to take part in IIHF Division III International competitions. Under -18 and U-20 Teams represented Ireland for the first time.
Domestic competition flourished and cross border leagues between, Dublin, Belfast, and Colerain provided a platform to compete at a high level.
Following the closure of the only two rinks in Dublin in 1999 and early 2000 the junior programme was in jeopardy. Players drove once a week to Belfast to train and others resorted to in-line hockey.
Over the past 10 years the sport has been stop-start – temporary rinks in Dublin and an ill-fated rink in Dundalk have resulted in homeless teams chomping at the bit to get Ice time.
Hopefully the revamped facility in Santry will kick start ice Sports in Ireland certainly helped by its centrally based practice and competitive game facility that all ages and types of ice sports can use and allow theirs sports to flourish
The Irish Domestic league will re-start in the Ice Arena in line with hockey season with Guest teams from the professional ‘Elite Ice Hockey League’ will visit the arena for promotional games and the IIHA aim to have a Dublin team in-place for the 2013 EIHL season
Regarding the ISIA (Irish Skating Association of Ireland), which was established in 1995, is the governing body for ice-skating in Ireland. A nonprofit organization, the ISAI aims to provide opportunities for individuals and teams to participate in ice skating at recreational and competition levels.
The Irish Curling Association (ICA) was formed in 1994 by a group of Irish expatriates living in Scotland. Since then, it has been granted recognition by, first the Scottish Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC), then the Irish Olympic Council and after ten
The ICA is reintroducing curling to Ireland after a gap of almost a century. ICA re-established the fixture between Belfast and Ardrossan Castle Curling clubs, which is possibly the world’s oldest International inter-club fixture in any sport!
It was first played in the 1850s, and revived in 1995 at Harvie’s Ice Rink in Ayrshire. The original medal was found in the Ardrossan trophy cabinet and now forms part of a new trophy.
The new millennium saw Ardrossan curlers return to Belfast for the first time since 1861,and the ICA curlers won the trophy.
Annual club fixtures include various Bonspiels and the Irish
Playdowns. All are mostly played at Hamilton in Scotland (the
most central rink for most current ICA members); an International
weekend held each March at Stranraer.
Ireland has now competed in a number of international events
and performed extremely well. In 2004, in their first season
eligible for competing in International events, the men’s team
gained unprecedented success by winning the silver medal in the
‘B’ League at the European Championships held in Sofia, Bulgaria.
This earned Ireland a place in the A section in the 2005 European
Championships in Germany competing against Europe’s elite
teams. This new venue will form a new chapter in Irish Curling history.
Mark Bowes had this to say about his desire to see a permanent Ice Arena in Dublin. “ I am delighted that the National Governing bodies of the ice sports in Ireland are now housed in a purpose built training arena in Dublin.
They now must seize the opportunity to introduce their respective discipline in a non ice sports market at grassroots level. I am very encouraged at the collaborative effort I see being made by the NGB’s thus far and I look very much forward to supporting them every step of the way.
With the roll out of Learn to play and learn to skate programs, and with a curling fest planned this season the future of the ice sports looks bright. The National Ice Arena will be ready by Christmas 2012 to showcase the sports in all their glamour”. Concluded Bowes.
So a new Ice Age has come to Dublin to reboot Ireland’s Ice related sports in the Capital City Of Dublin. Long may it continue developing successfully and grow to addition towns and cities within Ireland?
Written By Wayne Hardman