Ireland in Turkey – Day 10 & 11

Sunday 15th & Monday 16th March

Last night was a good one; the boys were just hanging out, relaxing and having a bit of craic with the Turkish team. Oh, and they also made sure they got plenty of photographs with Buzz Schneider. After a lively exchange it was decided that as all the Irish t-shirts had been swapped for Turkish t-shirts, we wouldn’t be travelling home in them! Let me tell you, everyone wanted an Irish t-shirt, from the hotel and bar staff to the numerous zamboni drivers, they all wanted one. Anyway, last night was good but the boys were off again early this morning for training and then we all took time to pack and have breakfast. When we were leaving the hotel, the Turkish team were coming back from their training. Every one of them shook hands and hugged our guys going out the door and wished them well. It was heart warming; we really did get on well with these guys.

Anyway, not without a lot of nervous energy, we all travelled down the mountain to the rink. Half way down we realised we were missing bodies. None of the boys thankfully! However, Debbie and William “The Turk” Fay weren’t on the bus! Now if you saw the snow that was on the road along with the police escort behind and in front of us, you’d agree that we had no option but to keep on going! They made it all the same! The boys went for their warm up while we went for a walk. Anything to ease the nerves! As you know, we never comment on the game and we let the stats speak for themselves but Rian Larkin’s goal had to be seen to be believed. We counted down the last ten seconds of the game rather loudly! Final Whistle! Bronze was ours! Hugging, cheering, relief, joy and nothing less than immense pride in the lads. Another emotional rollercoaster! They held it together right to the end. It was nothing short of fabulous. We headed back to the hotel for a packed lunch. There was no distinction between us and the boys, all that was packed were soft drinks! We checked out and said goodbye to everybody before heading down to the rink for the presentation. When we were leaving, they told us that there would only be ten more guests staying in the hotel and that it would be closing in another week!

With great pride we watched Team Ireland receive their medals. After all the presentations, they had an indoor fireworks display to end the ceremony which we thoroughly enjoyed. We were then on our merry way!!! We arrived and checked in at the airport with no bother. The flight was delayed an hour unfortunately but then we were allowed to get on the plane. We had to walk out to the plane and we were glad of our jackets. All you could say is that if Ireland saw this much snow, the country would be closed for a year! We couldn’t believe that they would actually take of in this weather. But obviously, they are more used to this than we are!! They got out the snow ploughs to clear the runway, four ploughs that is! They had guys up on the wings of the plane to sweep off the snow with brushes and everything but they eventually de-iced the entire plane. Once the yard brushes were away, we were in the air travelling to Istanbul.

Once we arrived, we were escorted to the VIP Lounge were all the food, coffee, tea and drinks were free but guess what they boys had!!???!! They had spotted Burger King and nothing would do them but to get to it pronto! It didn’t open until 4:00 am but you should have seen the queue! Between our boys and the Icelandic Team, the staff was totally swamped and certainly didn’t agree to this when they signed up for the night shift! No doubt, this branch of Burger King achieved a one day sales record in the space of an hour!!! When the boys had all eventually settled down in the VIP Lounge, there were bodies everywhere. The children’s play area which was full of soft toys and a TV was a particular favourite. Poor hippos and elephants were used as pillows!!! When the regular business men arrived at 7:00 am for their usual coffee before their flights, they were not used to seeing the sight in front of them! There were no spare chairs today!!! Anyway, after 7:00 am we all headed down for our flight and thankfully there were no delays, we were homeward bound! We were all delighted to see our welcoming party at Dublin Airport and a surprising bit of sunshine too!

Thank you so much to everyone who turned out for the lads, especially Mick Higgins and Cliff Saunders. Also, many thanks to Dundalk Ice Dome for their hospitality on our return, it was very much appreciated.

We hope everyone enjoyed our little blog and The Motley Crew (the parents) sign off and say roll on next year…

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