The first official World Ice Skating Day took place on Sunday, December 4th. Skaters from around the country alongside the Ice-Skating Association of Ireland came together to celebrate. The day featured an Ice Parade of Nations and Figure Skating at Dundrum on Ice.  

Picture Ⓒ  Mark Elmore

The origins of ice-skating in Ireland date back to the Victorian times. In 1876 the Earl of Kilmorey spent over thirty thousand pounds to erect the Mourne Hotel in Rostrevor, which held a large concert hall, public gardens and a skating rink! The Cork Skating Rink was operational in 1878, and in the 1880s, Famous Irish poet W.B. Yeats learned how to skate on the frozen Lough Gill in Co. Sligo!  

In 1980 the Dublin Ice Rink was opened in Dolphin Barn, which was popular until it closed in XXXX. Today there is an ice-rink in Belfast, which attracts people from all around the country, and a strong lobby for an ice-facility to be built in the Republic of Ireland to cater for the interest. Over ten weeks during winter, pop up rinks around the country attract up to 300,000 skaters annually.   

Figure skating is the oldest sport on the Olympic Winter Games programme. It was contested at the 1908 London Games and again in 1920 in Antwerp. Men’s, women’s and pairs were the three events contested until 1972. Since 1976, ice dancing has been the fourth event in the programme, proving a great success. 

The medal events include singles, pairs and ice dance. Ice dance is a version of pairs skating which draws on ballroom dancing and has been included as a medal event since the 1976 Games in Innsbruck, Austria. 

Speed skating (long track speed skating) has been part of the Winter Olympic programme since 1924. The sport involves athletes being timed over a specific distance around a 400m oval ice track. Skaters race in pairs, counter-clockwise and change lanes during each lap over a variety of distances ranging from 500m – 5000m. 

Short Track Speed Skating was introduced to the Winter Olympic programme in 1992. It involves a pack of four to six skaters racing against each other in heats on a tight oval track (111.12m) over a variety of racing distances ranging from 100m – 1000m and includes a relay event. 

Ireland are regular contesters on the international circuit, and in 2022 Short Track Skater Liam O’Brien came close to being our first Olympian, missing out on qualification by one spot. Our first Youth skater competed in figure skating at the Winter European Youth Olympic Festival in Vuokatti, Finland, in 2022 with Elizabeth Golding.  

Liam O'Brien

In the men’s figure skating programme Sam McAllister and Conor Stakelum have been flying the Irish flag for several years, and Ryan and Sean McAnuff have shown strong representation in the Short Track Programme, as well as Speed Skater Tara Donoghue. In the women’s figure skating programme Sophia Tkacheva is one to watch. For the first time ever Ireland has an ice-dancing team, with siblings Laura and Kevin Hegarty competing. 

We caught up with Diana Haemer on the day of the event, who grew up Ice Skating in Virginia (USA) and competed at the highest level in the United States but now lives and coaches in Ireland.  

  1. First who are you, where did you grow up, and how did you start skating and have you ever competed? 

I grew up skating in northern Virginia (USA) for the Washington Figure Skating Club and competed as high as the Junior level. At the peak of my competitive career, I could land double axels as well as triple salchows, loops, and toe loops and was working on triple flips & lutzes. However, at the age of 17 I suffered a severe concussion and was off the ice for one year. Upon returning to skating, I tested into the highest level in US Figure Skating and became a triple Gold Medalist in Moves in the Field, Freestyle, and Solo Ice Dancing. In recent years I’ve choreographed routines to raise money and awareness for certain causes, such as Ukrainian refugees in America. 

  1. What do you like most about skating? 

I love the independence skating affords. There are few other sports that require one to be both creative and strong, even tough. Skating teaches resilience, for you can never learn if you don’t get back up and try again! 

  1. How do you learn new skills/moves? 

Usually, I ask my coaches to help me learn new skills that I see when watching international competitions such as the US or European Championships, which take place once a year typically in January or February. My favorite elements are spins, and I often try to come up with interesting combinations that are inspired by the skaters I see on TV, such as Mao Asada or Mirai Nagasu. 

  1. How often do you train/coach per week? 

When competing I trained on the ice 5 days a week, 3 hours a day and off the ice 3-4 times a week, 1-2 hours a day. Now that I live in Ireland, I unfortunately only have a few minutes of ice time before group lessons start at Dundrum on weekend mornings. All of the other sessions are too crowded for me to attempt any difficult jumps or spins. Since the Irish rinks are half the size of a standard rink, I need to make sure there is enough space and the other skaters on the ice are advanced enough to look out for each other when practicing. 

  1. What would be your top 3 tips for people wanting to start skating? 

 I began skating when my mother took me to a birthday party at the age of 4; I fell in love with the ice and she soon signed me up for group lessons. My advice would be to sign up for lessons, skate as often as possible, and get inspired by watching famous skaters during the competitive season, which runs throughout the fall and winter months! 

  1. Is it hard to train/compete/coach in Ireland without a permanent ice facility? 

It is extremely hard to improve upon my skating without consistent access to the ice. Most people do not have the time or money to travel to Belfast and train seriously, which is hindering Ireland’s ability to produce and foster highly competitive skaters. I lived in the UK for one year and was lucky to have a year-round rink in the city close enough that I could walk to it. Even though I did not take lessons, I was able to work on my double jumps, layback spins, and improve my choreography skills. I think the convenience of public transport within County Dublin would make it easy for people to travel to and from a rink should one be built in the area. There is certainly enough interest in the sport: for example, the Emerald Skate program fills up within mere hours of its launch each year! Even though figure skating is an individual sport, skaters often are motivated by their peers to jump higher, skate faster, and achieve more. Indeed, most of my closest friends growing up were my fellow skaters; we formed a strong bond despite our highly competitive environment. Having a core group of advanced athletes who are constantly improving also inspires the next generation who are just beginning their skating journeys. But without a permanent ice facility, such a community cannot be had. 

Just under a week until Ireland Women take part in the Inaugural FIH Women’s Hockey Nations Cup, coach Sean Dancer has announced his squad. Ireland travelled to the Netherlands ahead of the tournament for some final preparation before arriving in Valencia, Spain for the competition which runs from December 11-17.

Ireland will be looking for a strong performance knowing that if they win the tournament, they win the opportunity to compete in the FIH Pro League. Dancer says his young team have developed since the summer and go into the competition with confidence despite some big names missing.

“The last few months have been an important development period for us as a group,” he says. “The Nations Cup presents a high-level tournament for us to use as a checkpoint on our progress. Results are important for us, and we will be focusing on managing games and doing the simple things well to give ourselves the best chance of being successful,” he added.

Dancer sees the forced omission of key players as a chance for other players to step up in the squad. “Ayeisha McFerran and Deirdre Duke are notable exemptions from the team lists; both have been strong performers for us this year and need this time to focus on work priorities,” he admits. “We look forward to having them back with us again early next year. This provides an opportunity for our squad to grow, with Lizzy Murphy already having strong performances in practice games and the first half of her club season in Germany. I am excited to see her step up to this challenge ahead,” he said.

FIH Nations Cup December 2022

1 Holly Micklem
2 Elizabeth Murphy
3 Róisín Upton (VC)

4 Elena Tice

5 Kathryn Mullan (C)
6 Sarah Hawkshaw
7 Naomi Carroll
8 Hannah McLoughlin
9 Sarah McAuley
10 Michelle Carey

11 Charlotte Beggs

12 Siofra O’Brien
13 Ellen Curran
14 Christina Hamill
15 Sarah Torrans
16 Caoimhe Perdue
17 Zara Malseed
18 Niamh Carey

All games can be watched live here Watch.Hockey

It took a final quarter penalty stroke to separate Ireland and South Africa in a pulsating FIH Hockey Nations Cup final that didn’t go Ireland’s way in Potchefstroom this afternoon. Ireland had almost double the shots on goal that South Africa did, but it was the cutting edge that the Irish were missing while the hosts were clinical in this high-stakes match.

Ireland never got in front in an enthralling encounter, although they managed to get back level from a 3-1 deficit in the third quarter to ensure a breathless last quarter. Mark Tumilty’s men spent much of the match chasing the game, but with 10 seconds to go in the third quarter, John McKee scored Ireland’s third to draw things level and give his team a chance to win this historic, inaugural tournament.

An early field goal from South Africa’s skipper knocked the stuffing out of the boys in green when they went behind in the fourth minute. Dayaan Cassiem, who finished the day as player of the match and player of the tournament, found space on the right of the Irish circle, lifted the ball over his defender’s stick and roofed a bouncing ball to give his side an early lead.

Ireland then dominated play with a passing game, but South Africa showed more discipline today than in the encounter between these teams in the group stages. Ireland’s best chance of the first quarter came in the final minute when Jeremy Duncan received with his back to goal, spun and flicked in one movement and Ben Walker almost snuck his touch under the keeper.
Ireland continued their passing game in the second period, and it was a passing move that saw them win their first corner which Shane O’Donoghue duly scored. The defender’s sublime drag flick was too quick for Hendrik Kriek in the South Arica goal as he was simply beaten for pace.

It was a final for the ages with end-to-end hockey, both teams showing prowess with their overhead delivery and one-on-one skills. Cassiem was in the mood and he created another moment of brilliance when he received on the left of Ireland’s circle, juggled past a handful of defenders and committed David Fitzgerald in goals before, incredibly, hitting fresh air and squandering a gilt-edged chance. Cassiem made up for his earlier mistake, though, again finding a yard of space, backing into the circle and firing a bullet into the right corner on his reverse to give his team the lead again.

South Africa will be forgiven for thinking they had earned themselves some breathing space, then, when in the first minute of the second half, Tevin Kok produced the play of the game after incredible skill from Keenan Horne. Horne had controlled a short overhead just outside the Ireland circle before juggling past a couple of defenders. Kok then dinked over his defender’s stick before a double lift just made it over Fitzgerald’s shoulder to make it three goals to one in South Africa’s favour.

Credit must go to Tumilty’s charges, though. They didn’t panic, continuing to put pressure on the hosts, and when John McKee was denied from close range, he did well to see what most did not – a South Africa back-stick in the circle. He opted to use Ireland’s referral and the penalty corner was duly given. O’Donoghue gave Ireland hope when he fired another rocket into the top right corner, this time almost taking the glove of Kriek with it into the goal.

The score might have been much higher as each side seemed to score the more difficult goals, and miss the more clear-cut chances, but it was a moment of luck that saw Ireland level things up. Jeremy Duncan received in midfield and found McKee who drifted into the circle and swept what was probably a pass for an Ireland deflection. Instead, he found the stick of a South African defender and the resulting deflection wrong-footed the keeper to make it three apiece going into the final quarter.

But in the end, it was an Irish mistake that led to the winner for South Africa with 10 minutes to go. South Africa won the ball in the midfield and when Cassiem was through on goal, a foul from behind gave the umpire no choice but to award a penalty stroke. Mustaphaa Cassiem, Dayaan’s brother, sent Fitzgerald the wrong way and slotted into the right corner.

As the clock ran down, Ireland played with patience, but South Africa managed the game well, thwarting everything Ireland threw at them. The hosts were good value for their first victory over Ireland and their first place in the FIH Hockey Nations Cup.

Ireland captain Sean Murray was understandably distraught after the match. “Just gutted, to be honest, really gutted. Credit to South Africa, they were good today; they took their chances. We put a lot of pressure on, had some good chances as well but in the end, it just comes down to little details and it’s just bitterly disappointing.”

Even after a devastating loss, Murray spoke of his team’s bright future. “We have a young group coming together; we’ve made a lot of progress in the last few months, especially,” he said. “We have a lot more to give, I think. We just need to get through the next few months and regroup, get back together, and push on,” he finished.

Coach Mark Tumilty feels his team had the winning of the match. “We had enough chances to get something out of that game but that’s sometimes the way that it goes at this level,” he admitted. “We got punished by a very clinical South Africa side. Overall, it was an excellent tournament and something for the Senior Men to build on.”

Tumilty was philosophical after a frustrating day: “It’s a disappointing result, and the opportunity to play in the FIH Pro League would have been fantastic, not just for the senior men’s team, but for hockey in Ireland. However, I think this group of players can look back on this week with great pride. We certainly have made huge progress and it’s now an opportunity to kick on in 2023 and beyond.”

Ireland’s senior women are in action next when they look to go one better than their male counterparts in the Women’s FIH Hockey Nations Cup. That tournament begins on December 11th.

Ireland Women Earn Best Ever Finish At Dubai 7s

Tullamore youngster Megan Burns was part of the Ireland Women's Sevens squad that finished sixth at the Emirates Dubai 7s ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

While disappointed with a brace of defeats on the final day, the Ireland Women’s Sevens team (sponsored by TritonLake) still managed their best ever finish at the Emirates Dubai 7s.

Ireland ended up sixth overall in their HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series opener, defeating Great Britain 21-12 either side of losses to the USA (5-0) and Fiji (28-12).

Naya Tapper scored the only try in a gut-wrenching Cup quarter-final exit for Aiden McNulty’s side, who bounced back with tries from captain Lucy Mulhall, Eve Higgins and Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe to beat their British counterparts.

Higgins and Murphy Crowe were both excellent across the weekend, scoring five tries each with Béibhinn Parsons, who turned 21 on Wednesday, kicking off the new season with a four-try haul.

Both Parsons and Murphy Crowe crossed during the 5th place final, but Fiji exacted revenge for Saturday’s pool defeat with two unanswered second half scores as they took advantage of the sin-binning of Parsons.

The Ireland Women’s previous best placings in Dubai were eighth in 2018 and seventh last year. They move on to Cape Town next week for the first World Series leg in South Africa since December 2019.

Murphy Crowe and Stacey Flood straightened up Ireland’s attack despite some early passes going astray in a bruising quarter-final clash. The breakdown was ferociously competitive.

It was a cagey, defensive game and the girls in green were unable to get a foothold in terms of territory throughout the first half. Erin King lifted her team-mates on the restart with a well-won turnover penalty.

Ireland had to scramble back to foil a Tapper break, but she soon opened the scoring from a loose Irish lineout. The US went wide where Ilona Maher’s brilliant offload put Tapper over in the left corner despite a last-ditch Higgins tackle.

As time ticked down, Murphy Crowe did well to bring down Jaz Gray – and also cover a subsequent kick through – and it was Higgins who won the contest at the breakdown.

Crucially, the Americans’ physicality and organisation in defence kept Ireland well out of scoring range. Mulhall opted to put boot to ball during the final seconds, but Gray was able to reach the ball ahead of Murphy Crowe and seal the result.

Britain started on the front foot in the 5th place semi-final, and were rewarded when Emma Uren charged clear from a quick tap to score in the fourth minute. Captain Megan Jones converted.

Nonetheless, the Irish attack clicked into gear before half-time. Mulhall crashed in under the posts from a penalty, following up on some smart running by both Higgins and a sniping Emily Lane.

Higgins was next over the whitewash, expertly nipping through a gap to score from the right wing with the British defence sucked in by the lurking Murphy Crowe. Mulhall’s second conversion made it 14-7 at the interval.

The midway heat was a factor during a stop-start second half, but Britain closed the gap to two points after a clever score from replacement Isla Norman-Bell who broke from a ruck and beat the chasing Lane with some nifty footwork.

Playing the captain’s role, Mulhall swiftly got outside Ellie Boatman to break from inside the Irish half and she had Murphy Crowe trailing her to finish off the match-winning try to the left of the posts.

Fiji took a first-minute lead when they renewed rivalries with Ireland. Raijieli Daveua’s powerful burst downfield delivered the opening seven points, but Parsons replied in the third minute.

Nice offloading from King and Higgins, whose sidestepping run had Fiji backpedalling, set up the Ballinasloe native to dash clear from halfway. Mulhall equalised with the conversion from just to the right of the posts.

Mulhall’s short restart was won by Flood, sparking a strong spell from Ireland. Fiji absorbed the pressure but were exposed when Mulhall fed Murphy Crowe for a simple sixth-minute finish from close range.

With a terrific jinking run from deep, Lavena Cavuru made it two tries apiece for half-time, the Fijians just shading it at 14-12. They then went to score at crucial stages of the closing seven minutes.

Parsons saw yellow for preventing a quick tap, and Ana Maria Naimasi used the resulting scrum possession to step into space and canter clear for her side’s third try. Reapi Ulunisau added the extras for a 21-12 scoreline.

Ireland tried to hit back when Megan Burns chased down her own kick and Higgins also tested the Fijian defence with some elusive running. Yet, a Naimasi offload settled the issue when she released fellow replacement Younis Bese to go in under the posts.

Ireland Men Deliver Second World Series Silver In Desert

Captain Harry McNulty and his Ireland team-mates celebrate with their silver medals following the Cup final at the Emirates Dubai 7s ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

Showing impressive coolness in the intense Dubai heat, the Ireland Men’s Sevens team (sponsored by TritonLake) picked up their second silver medal in five HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments.

Hard-fought wins over Argentina (19-14) and the USA (12-7), with Mark Roche breaking from a scrum for a memorable extra-time winner against the Eagles, saw Ireland reach their first Cup final of the new season.

James Topping’s men, who contested their maiden World Series decider in Toulouse last May, had to be content with silver again as a resurgent South Africa scored three first half tries to emerge as 21-5 winners.

Jack Kelly crossed for Ireland’s only try, but most importantly their hard work across the weekend delivered 19 World Series points as they moved up to fourth in the overall standings.

The competition on the circuit is fiercer than even before, with the prize of Olympic Games Paris 2024 qualification on offer for the top four teams at the end of this season’s World Series.

Captained by Harry McNulty in Dubai, the Ireland Men move on to the Cape Town Sevens next week, the final leg before Christmas. The Ireland Women will be there too following their sixth place finish in Dubai.

The silver medal success adds to the impressive list of recent achievements by the IRFU Men’s Sevens Programme, at the top of which is Topping’s side winning bronze at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town. Terry Kennedy and McNulty earned Dream Team selection.

The current squad watched on with pride as three former Sevens regulars, Jimmy O’Brien, Hugo Keenan and Robert Baloucoune, helped the Ireland 15s team win all three of their Bank of Ireland Nations Series games in November.

Kennedy, last season’s World Series top try scorer and Dream Team member, received the World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year award last month. Currently on a sabbatical in Australia, the loss of the player-maker is a significant one.

Yet, as seen by this weekend’s results, other players stepped up in his absence to ensure the Ireland Men finished on a World Series podium for only the third time, including 2018’s breakthrough bronze in London.

Aaron O’Sullivan pointed the way for Ireland against Argentina, swooping on a loose offload by German Schulz and breaking clear from halfway for a try inside the opening minute.

Niall Comerford got a hand to the restart, with the Irish ball retention seeing them move the Pumas from side to side. They got more possession from another wayward pass by Schulz, which was picked off by O’Sullivan.

Again they took the fifth seeds through the phases, grasping their opportunity when Gaston Revol was on the ground. McNulty and Sean Cribbin combined to send Zac Ward over on the left, making it 12-0 for half-time.

Argentina built momentum from the restart, scoring within a minute through Matias Osadczuk. His try was converted and they prevented the freshly-introduced Conroy from streaking clear, Rodrigo Isgro landing an important tackle.

When the South Americans were next on the attack, they put Schulz into space and he stretched out for the line, with the TMO review rubberstamping the try. Replacement Juan Manuel Molinuevo’s well-struck conversion edged them in front.

Kelly plucked down the restart with two-and-a-half minutes remaining, the ball worked out to both wings before McNulty put Conroy haring down the left wing. He cut inside Alejo Lavayen and scampered all the way to the line for a terrific solo score.

The extras from the left-footed Hugo Lennox left five points between the sides, and with Andrew Smith frustrating the Pumas with a turnover penalty, Ireland had booked their passage through to the last-four.

The Cup semi-final against the USA was another bruising affair, McNulty and Roche both driving their legs in contact to bring Ireland forward early on.

The breakthrough came in the fourth minute, Ward showing his power and pace to evade both Joe Schroeder and Kevon Williams to run in his third try of the tournament. Roche converted.

The remainder of the first half saw both defences give very little away, McNulty stealing a lineout to rob the Eagles of a promising attacking platform. In addition, Ireland were making their tackles stick out wide.

With 10 minutes on the clock, the US got back on level terms. Replacement Malacchi Esdale bounced off a tackle from Bryan Mollen, drew in Conroy and released speedster Perry Baker to score from the edge of the Irish 22.

Steve Tomasin supplied the conversion which eventually took the game to extra-time, Ireland were getting back into scoring range off a series of penalties but a late lineout failed to work out.

The first period of extra-time saw Ireland force the issue, Lennox narrowly overcooking a penalty to touch before Mollen earned a turnover penalty to quickly launch the men in green forward again.

Following a forward pass thrown by Baker on his own 22, there was barely a minute left. Roche stole a march on US captain Williams, using quick ball from the scrum to attack the short side and gleefully run in the golden point score.

The Ireland Men’s second ever Cup final appearance on the circuit saw them come up against the Blitzboks, who had the HSBC player-of-the-final in Shilton van Wyk.

He stepped inside Cribbin and accelerated through for a try after just 19 seconds, and more silky footwork from van Wyk had him evading Conroy to score again in the fifth minute. Ireland were 14-0 down.

McNulty slowed the tempo through a series of penalties, calling on Cribbin to kick for touch. Just when Ireland were getting into scoring range, Siviwe Soyizwapi swooped for a midfield interception and was too fast to be caught.

Now 21 points in arrears, Smith led Ireland’s fight-back with his direct running early in the second period. Muller du Plessis ripped possession away from Conroy, but the white shirts were soon back on the attack via a hard-earned penalty.

Kelly got them off the mark in the 11th minute, McNulty pressing from the lineout before the Dublin University clubman tapped a penalty to reach over in the right corner. Roche’s conversion stayed wide on the near side.

Crucially though, South Africa remained in control of the scoreboard as the clock wound down. There were no further scoring opportunities for either team as Ireland’s quest for a first World Series gold came up short.

OFI Paris Scholarship Recipient and Modern Pentathlete Sive Brassil

MODERN Pentathlon's Sive Brassil sent out the most emphatic marker yet of her progress when she bagged her highest finish (eighth) at the European Championships in Hungary in mid-September.
Her previous best placing at Euros was 16th so what helped the 28-year-old from Ballinasloe make such a significant leap?

“Not making Tokyo last year was a big knock to my confidence. I think I was so focussed on Olympic qualification that all of the process went out of the window. 2022 was about finding the enjoyment again. I think what’s changed is that I’m more relaxed and less stressed out, I’m allowing myself to enjoy it again.

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“Maturity is another big thing. I now know that my level allows me to have some weaker events on the qualifying day because I have such a good run/shoot (final event) to make up for it.

16 April 2020; Modern pentathlete Sive Brassil during a training session at her home in Ballinasloe, Galway. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

“I also made a few changes that I think helped, thanks to some lifestyle management work I did with Eoin Rheinisch at the Institute of Sport.

“I got a job in Decathlon, which was the first time since college that I balanced work with training. It might sound counter-productive but it was actually very good for me.

“I worked full-time for them, on the shop floor, in the Watersports Department, during the summer and then part-time up until Christmas 2021.

“I would never have thought that I could fit something else extra in with my training. In my head I think I thought you’d just be doing less of something (training) in order to fit in something extra but, actually, I wasn’t doing anything less, maybe just training more efficiently.

“I really enjoyed working and feeling like a normal person. When you’re a full-time athlete you can get very caught up in results and almost feel like they reflect on you as a person. When you have other things to think about maybe you feel like a more whole, rounded person.

“I've been training full-time again since January 2022 but am still doing an ambassadorial role with Decathlon, as well as the Olympic Federation’s ‘Dare To Believe’ programme which involves school visits which I really enjoy.”

With Natalya Coyle and Arthur Lanigan O’Keeffe now retired she also has a new leadership role within her sport.

Sive Brassil with Natalya Coyle after the Women's Modern Pentathlon Finals in Rio 2016

“Suddenly I'm the senior on the team! Isobel (Radford-Dodd from Wicklow) and Hanna (D’Aughton from Cork) are such promising juniors. They have already made their senior debuts and are also great fun so it's a nice change of dynamic." 

Sive Brassil is one of the Olympic Federation of Ireland’s Paris Scholarship recipients, and has her sights firmly set on Paris 2024.

Ireland men’s Head coach Mark Tumilty has announced his travelling squad for the Inaugural FIH Hockey Men’s Nations Cup next week. Ireland will compete in Pool A of the Nations Cup in Potchefstroom, South Africa from November 28th until December 4th.Eight teams will contend for the top spot with the winning side qualifying for the next edition of the FIH Pro League. Joining Ireland in Pool A are France, South Africa and Pakistan with the top two in the group qualifying for the semi-finals while the bottom two play the corresponding teams in Pool B for rankings five to eight.Coach Mark Tumilty sees it as a good opportunity for his charges. “I am really looking forward to the Nations Cup and the chance to qualify for the Pro League which has to be an ambition for hockey in Ireland,” he said ahead of the announcement. “It is an excellent opportunity to gain experience playing against the different playing styles of France, South Africa and Pakistan. We are focused on the first game against France as we look to produce a much better performance than we did against them in Calais during the European Qualifier,” he added.Tumilty is pleased with how his team have prepared for the competition with a series against Spain and Great Britain. “We have had a good build-up with games against Spain and GB where we got the opportunity to embed some key areas. We will look to improve further in South Africa,” he said. “It is a really interesting tournament with all teams evenly matched, so if we can be at our best, I feel we can achieve positive results,” he finished.
FIH Men's Nations Cup Squad 2022
James Milliken
David Fitzgerald
Luke Madeley
Lee Cole
Shane O’Donoghue
Kyle Marshall
Tim Cross
Peter McKibben
Jonny Lynch
Nick Page
Daragh Walsh
Sean Murray
Sam Hyland
Jeremy Duncan
Johnny McKee
Kevin O’Dea
Conor Empey
Ben Walker
Travelling Reserves
Mark McNellis
Charlie Rowe
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FIH NC Schedule RSA-01

Below is the roundup from Team Ireland's participation at the recent WAKO European Kickboxing Championships for Seniors and Masters which was held in Antalya, Turkey 12th-20th November.

"This European Championships was one of the most important championships to date for the kickboxing world as it was a decider/qualifier to qualify for a spot on the forthcoming European Olympic Games which will be held in Poland in early July 2023 as well as the World Combat Games in Riyadh at the end of 2023.

This Championships was indeed filled with the best talented kickboxers in Europe as competitors moved weights up and down to compete in the specific qualifying weight classes.

Out of a squad of 34 athletes, Team Ireland's performance was not one for the record books unfortunately, but nonetheless, 10 elite athletes secured a qualifying spot in either the EOG or WG.

Ireland's final medal tally was a hard fought 4 gold, 3 silver and 9 bronze medals. Overall, Team Ireland finished in 12th position out of 39 nations in the medal standings, just behind Germany. 

Ireland's newly crowned European Champions are: 

Gary McDonnell

Jodie Browne

Robbie Cuffe

Adam Condon

Runner up (silver medallists) are: 

Conor McGlinchey

Hannah Greene

Tony Stephenson

Third place on the podium are:

Keri Browne

Amy Wall

Stephen Jones

Nathan Tait 

Cathal O'Dowd

Jodie Browne (two disciplines)

Greg Sheehan

Ireland also secured two third place finishes in the Men's & Ladies PF Team Event

The fighting Irish that have qualified for a spot at the European Olympic Games are:

Jodie Browne

Amy Wall

Tony Stephenson

Peter Carr

Nathan Tait

Conor McGlinchey

Nicole Bannon

Eoin Glynn

Luke McCann

Team Ireland will also be represented in the World Combat Games by:

Robbie Cuffe.

Pic attached from Kickboxing Ireland: The official KBI 2022 Senior National Kickboxing Team along with coaches and officials.

After battling at the top of his 60 boat event all week, Ireland’s Rocco Wright (Howth Yacht Club) held his nerve and emerged overall winner of the ILCA6 Men's European Championship on the Côte d'Azur today (Monday 21st November 2022, Hyères, France).

The 16 year old also won the U21 division and this event is added to his Youth World Championship Gold won in the Netherlands in July.

The ILCA6 Men's event is the stepping-stone class to senior level competition for the ILCA7 used at the Olympic Games.

"Rocco has worked hard on his fitness since the summer, this work was rewarded with the stellar performances in breeze earlier in the week" said James O'Callaghan, Performance Director with Irish Sailing.  "The result and his superb 2022 season is not only a tribute to him but also to the support of his family and wider community in Howth Yacht Club."

Wright is part of the Irish Sailing Youth Academy and his 2022 results are important benchmarks in his development.

"I'm extremely happy with this week as the first few days were very challenging and that was my weakness coming out of summer," he said.  "I'm just speechless to be world and European champion this year. It was always a dream of mine to win a worlds and a European and to do it the same year... I'm just over the moon!"

His immediate goal is to resume working on his skills at a training camp in Valencia next weekend but he also was keen to pay tribute to his coaches and support staff but particularly his parents and home club.

Breaking is a style of dance that originated in the United States in the 1970s. It took form in the lively block parties in the Bronx, emerging from hip hop culture, and is characterised by acrobatic movements, stylised footwork and the key role played by the DJ and MC (master of ceremonies) during battles.

International competitions were first held all over the world in the 1990s, popularising the dance form both among hip hop communities and the general public along the way.

In 2024 Breaking, for the first time, will be included on the competition programme at the Olympic Games. The qualification journey for Irish breakers started last weekend, with the National Championships in Dublin.

Leon Dwyer, a breaker from South Dublin, competes at home and on the international stage for Ireland along with his breaking crew Primal Instincts (based in London). Dwyer’s route to breaking initially started with Ballet, he went to dance classes with his sister and mother (a yoga and ballet instructor). Later, Dwyer tried a lot of different dance styles but found he was drawn to breaking the most. Now a teacher himself. He holds classes in Dublin and surrounding areas, and in the final for the title on Saturday went 1v1 with one of his up-and-coming students.

Originality is a core principle and the need for flexibility extends from the physical to the aural given it is the DJs who choose the tunes on the day of battle.

B-boys and b-girls perform for anything between 45 seconds and a minute at a time and the number of rounds can stretch into double figures.

Dwyer has been trying to make a name for himself on the international stage since he was 15, sometimes losing within the first round but persistence and determination along with finding his own unique dance style meant something clicked and he’s pushing the boundaries with his sights set on Paris in 2024.

Speaking last weekend on his National 1v1 Ranking Championship performance, Dwyer said

“I really enjoyed the competition, I am used to doing more rounds internationally, but it didn’t bother me. The level in Ireland is growing quickly and there are some younger breakers coming up, so it was good to get the win today.”

Breaking down the scoring of each round, he added,

“The athleticism is what highlights breaking the most and there is obviously a creative side to it too. You must learn the foundation steps first, all the basic steps, with each of those steps you need to add levels to them. Each battle is like a conversation, feeding off the energy of the room and the other person. If they do a move, you must do it better.”

“You also have signature moves which I like to focus on because I like to create my own style and be a little more original.”

In his training and teaching, Dwyer is a little more abstract in his approach to learning new moves and adding them to his routine,

“I’ll learn a step and then find 100 different ways to do that step, different exits, entrants and just adding my own style to everything that I learn. There’s a whole art form to breaking that some people miss.”

Dwyer, who also is currently working full-time in a tattoo shop, The Ink Factory, compares breaking to the floor routine in gymnastics, which requires strength to hold certain moves. He highlights the importance of adding body conditioning to his overall training programme,

“Mostly, me and my friends along with some of my students train together and we just battle it out for hours and hours.”

Breaking takes place in La Concorde for Paris 2024 and runs from the 9th and 10th of August, follow @breakingireland for all updates.

Ryan Henderson at the European Championships in August (Photo: Drew Kaplan Photography)

Ryan Henderson admits that competing in the BMX Freestyle Park at the 2022 UCI Urban Cycling World Championships will be a dream come true. 

The east Belfast rider has been selected for Ireland after an impressive 10th place finish at the European Championships and now heads to the World Championships in Abu Dhabi from November 9th to 13th. 

Henderson will make history as Ireland’s first-ever representative in the event after achieving the same feat at the European Championships in Munich in August.  

Ahead of the Championships, Henderson looked back on the strides made in 2022 as he looks to build on his Euros performance.  

Henderson said:  

“This year has been a big step for Irish BMX just with the Euros happening as well. We're super excited, it's been a dream so I'm glad it's finally here. I was happy with the way the Euros went, with the scale of things and that being Ireland's first time in a major contest like that - to get to wear the jersey. It was a big step for us and I'm glad we got the result we were looking for.” 

Henderson trains at Thunder Park in Bangor but was invited to take part in a training camp with the French national team in Montpellier from October 22 to October 30 after forging a relationship with the team at the European Championships. 

An opportunity to train amongst some world class riders, Henderson hopes he can learn from the experience ahead of the World Championships.  

Henderson said:  

“With the way things are back at home, we don't actually have ramps to the scale that we need. I ride in Thunder Park in Bangor, it's got me this far and it's amazing that I get to ride there, but we needed ramps that are going to be similar to what we're riding in Abu Dhabi.”

"I did two trips leading up to Abu Dhabi, last week I was in England doing a contest to keep me active. The French (team) have a really good training camp going on (right now), we developed a good relationship with them from the Euros and they invited me out.” 

“It's been amazing so far, learning off the guys, not only how they work things. I always ride by myself, and it can be a bit hard at times because you need people to feed off so to be able to ride with these guys out here is quite good. Right now, France is leading the way. Just seeing how they work things is quite interesting and hopefully I can pick up on some things and bring them with me - just to build the confidence and polish off on the tricks.” 

The Championships will provide the first opportunity to qualify for the 2024 Olympics and as Henderson targets qualification for the Paris games. 

He said:  

“That's the goal right now, that's what we're working towards. We're quite new in the way things are and how structured and strict it is. We're obviously not used to this so we're just trying to learn along the way - seeing how the other countries work things and seeing what suits us best.” 

Cycling Ireland High Performance Director Iain Dyer is delighted that Henderson has been selected as he wished him luck in the championships.  

He said:  

“I am delighted that Ryan has been selected for the BMX FP World Championships this year. It’s been a year of firsts for Irish FP; first ever Irish rider at the European Championships, and now the first Irish rider at a World Championships. It’s a testimony to the hard work and sacrifices Ryan has made in the last few years to put his programme together. This year's World Championships marks the first qualifying event towards Paris Olympic Games, so we wish him the very best of luck.” 

Gymnastics Ireland star Rhys McClenaghan has become the first Irish World Champion in the sport of Gymnastics! Rhys hit a stellar 15.300 on pommel horse in Liverpool today at the 2022 World Gymnastics Championships in front of a packed out arena and broadcast live to a huge global TV audience.

At the same time in Dublin nearly 1,500 gymnasts, coaches and fans cheered and watched the RTÉ live feed from the Sport Ireland National indoor Arena during the Gymnastics Ireland National Series event.

Commenting about the experience Gymnastics Ireland’s National Coach, Luke Carson said: “Today the plan came together with precision. I have known Rhys could be a World Champion since 2014, today was that day. I am very proud to be part of this monumental moment in Irish sport. Thank you to Sport Ireland and Gymnastics Ireland for their wonderful support.”

Gymnastics Ireland’s Performance and Technical Manager Sally Johnson added: “As I said in qualification, Rhys is the definition of a World Class athlete… Confident, focused, great preparation & so composed! An extremely proud day for Rhys, his family, his coach Luke and for Gymnastics Ireland!

Gymnastics Ireland’s CEO Mr Ciaran Gallagher said: “Words can’t describe how we all feel about what Rhys just did today… We are a small nation and we have a World Champion in the global sport of gymnastics! To Rhys & our National Coach Luke Carson all I can say is thank you! Congratulations to Rhys’ mum & dad Tracy & Danny, again also to Luke, our Performance & Technical Manager Sally Johnson & Head of Performance Services Julianne Ryan, judge Denis Donoghue and of course most of all Rhys - our World Champion!”

For more exciting gymnastics news follow us on Twitter, Facebook for live updates and photos of the competition by searching for @GymnasticsIre #GymasticsIreland #Sportstartshere

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