Four very happy skaters from the club who went from never skating until November 2021 to taking part in their first hockey tournament on BOTH Ice and Wheels
SMASH 2022 is an Inline and Ice Hockey Weekend Tournament hosted in partnership by Inline Hockey Ireland and the Irish Ice Hockey Association. Held this year on the 5th and 6th of March, women from all over came to take part in a North v South Ice Hockey game Saturday night at the 'Dundonald International Ice Bowl' in Belfast, followed by a four team Inline Hockey Tournament on Sunday held at 'The Rink Sports Arena' in Portadown seeing both South and North teams divided into two smaller teams.
The Mayo Bulls Players
The Mayo Bulls members took on the decision to compete during December 2021 and used this to drive them in training leading up to the event, skating and playing every minute they had available between this time and the tournament. At this time the skaters had actually only started skating very recently and came aboard during October and November!
The three senior members Danielle, Diane and Laura were part of a group who would meet in car parks and flat areas in the evening to practice their skating and meet up with other skaters, Mayo Bulls coach headed to one of their skates for fun and heard they struggled for dry days and places to learn and so from there the club began 'Adult Learn to Skate' sessions which these three and more were regular attendees.
Our junior member Niamh began her journey through 'Mayo Sports Partnership' in 'Skate Squad' which with Mayo Bulls ran a course of 6 sessions where girls would learn the basics for skating through drills and fun games accompanied by open skate sessions. But the sessions didn't start until the start of November 2021! Niamh attended our regular Learn to Skate sessions alongside Skate Squad after the first lessons and showed a real high level of commitment, it was not long before she picked up a hockey stick and began training in our Inline Hockey sessions. To this day Niamh still attends Learn to Skate and Inline Hockey sessions back to back.
Saturday afternoon the girls nervously went up early to get for some their first steps on the ice, accompanied by coach PJ Cunningham for advice as they prepared for the game. They took in the atmosphere, the venue and enjoyed the game as they jumped straight in representing the South team giving it their best effort knowing this would be the most difficult leg of the weekend. They performed brilliantly and if they don't know it, did something amazing and very difficult by just taking part and putting themselves out there.
The girls then enjoyed a game of professional Ice Hockey at the SSE Arena as the Belfast Giants took on and defeated the Guildford Flames in the UK Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) game. This was their first opportunity to watch an ice hockey game and were took aback by the venue, the entrance from the teams, the crowd, the fast play, the away supporters, interval interactions with fans i.e. games, giveaways. A real spectacle and enjoyable game which I'm sure made them feel proud to be a part of the sport.
After an exciting Saturday of Hockey, they headed to Portadown and got on the wheels where they felt most comfortable. The girls were placed on the same team representing Southern Sonics and enjoyed 4 games over the course of the day including Danielle picking up her first in competition goal assisted by her team mate Diane. They soaked up the atmosphere and enjoyed watching some competitive games with the day finished off with Diane picking up most improved player of the tournament and making the Star Line for Inline.
Overall the four girls from the Mayo Bulls showed up, represented themselves and their club brilliantly with their determination and positive attitudes and comradery. We can't tell you enough how proud we are as a club of these four women who before this did not compete in sports regularly and mostly at all. They found a love for skating which led them transitioning into hockey, one of the most difficult sports in the world. A big well Done girls.
Special thanks to:
Mayo Sports Partnership - Leaders of Skate Squad Initiative
Inline Hockey Ireland - NGB for Inline Hockey in Ireland
FB and Insta: @InlineHockeyIreland
Irish Ice Hockey Association - NGB for Ice Hockey in Ireland
Ice and Inline SMASH 2022 - Organisers of the event