PREVIEW: Poland v Ireland

On Monday afternoon, the Women’s Irish National Team will open the 2011 IIHF World Women’s Championship Division V when they play Poland at the Winter Sports Palace in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The game won’t be broadcast live on the internet but there will be a LIVE TEXT FEED available on to keep everyone up to date with what is going on.

This will be the first time that Ireland has competed in the World Women’s Championship and it has been a long wait! Ireland were due to take part in the World Women’s Championship for the first time back in 2009, however, their division was cancelled when a higher division was unable to find a host. Last year was an Olympic year and the lower divisions of the World Women’s Championship don’t take place in those years.

That’s the past though and this is all about the present and the future. The Women’s Irish National Team has been training extremely hard since November with ice time at The Odyssey Arena thanks to the Belfast Giants, ice time at The Point Village On Ice as well as off-ice fitness training thanks to Felda in Dundalk.

The game faces off at 2:30 pm local time which is 12:30 pm Irish time and the team will be captained by Dundalk Lady Bulls’ player, Sonya McEneaney. Belfast Ice Vixens’ player, Elaine McCann, and another Dundalk Lady Bulls’ player, Beatty Hosgood, will act as the assistants. All of the players have played with each other at one stage or another over the past few years so they’ve become really close and atmosphere among the players, like all the Irish teams, is excellent.

This will be a momentous occasion for Irish ice hockey as many of the players only took up the sport when the Dundalk Ice Dome first opened. Some have played inline longer but only really got into ice hockey after the Ice Dome opened. Three of the players are still under eighteen years of age and have developed through the junior ranks in Dundalk. The team also has players hailing from Dublin, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Galway. This shows how dynamic a bunch of players comprises this team.

This whole tournament is going to be interesting as nobody really knows what to expect. It has been 3 years since Division IV was last played and it is the first time that Division V will take place. Everyone is in with a chance.

The excitement has been building ever since the team met up on Friday evening to prepare for their long journey across Europe. They’ve already practiced twice so far since landing in Sofia and the anticipation is actually making it feel a bit like the night before Christmas…


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