On December 28th, at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, the 2010 Dublin Flyers Reunion Game will take place. This will be the first time in almost 10 years that the Flyers “family” will take to the ice.
Much of the success of Irish Ice Hockey has its roots in the Dublin Flyers and it’s players. The Dublin Flyers cut a path on the ice that allowed today’s players to follow.
Ice hockey survived in Dublin despite inadequate facilities and lack of professional instruction. The Club’s original players were at the centre of Dublin’s very own hockey rivalry. The Rialto Rockets versus the Phibsboro Flyers was every bit as intense as Islanders V Rangers or USA V Russia.
The Rockets from Dublin’s Southside played out of the Dublin Ice Rink in Dolphin’s Barn while the Flyers from Dublin’s Northside played in the Silver Skate Ice Rink in Phibsboro. The new rivalry was ambitious and intense. When games were played, the team with most physical presence on the day usually came out the winner.
The Irish standard of skill had improved and the inner city matches were hot tempered and hard. Both Ice rinks were converted from old cinemas, and originally catered primarily to public skating. T he ice surface was quite small compared to today’s standard; they were roughly only 1/3 of regulation size.
When the first hockey sessions started in these rinks, players were local kids who were just learning how to skate. Children shared sticks and pads, as ice hockey equipment was very hard to obtain.
The young Dubliners played a rudimentary version of hockey, but they had no experience in the sport. Players scraped together equipment, and even the goaltender had a home-made stick consisting of aluminum and concrete while the leg pads kept intact by string and tape.
By the mid 1980’s, the Dublin club was maturing and local competition was not enough. The team had to look to Britain for competition, but finances unfortunately kept them from traveling. Since inviting teams for home matches was out of the question due to the facility in Dublin.
As the 90’s approached, both teams found difficulties maintaining player lists and trouble keeping in the good favour of both rinks’ management. Since demand was high for general public skating, ice hockey often took a back seat at times. Both teams were apparently headed towards folding, but in retrospect this was probably for the best.
For a few Irish players committed to the sport, new challenges arose to keep hockey alive in Ireland. The core players of the Rockets and the Flyers united in an effort to continue the progress of Irish ice hockey, and the new and reformed Dublin Flyers were created.
The Dublin Flyers have set the standard for ice hockey in Ireland ever since. They have been successful as the longest running team in Irish hockey history behind the original core of players. With the skills of the Irish players developing each year, the Flyers brought their game to tournaments in Scotland.
At first the competition was overwhelming, but again the Irish love of the game and determination to improve eventually paid off. In 1995 and 1996 the Dublin Flyers won the Glenrothes Winter Challenge Cup and in 1997 the coveted Scottish Cup left Scotland for Dublin for the first time in its history. Further success followed on the Flyers first trip to mainland Europe were they won the Rhein nekar tourney in Germany in 1999.
The following year the team traveled to Iceland to Support the national U 18 team. The Flyers faced off against a tough Icelandic outfit with many players from their own National team. The Flyers surprised everyone with a hard fought yet skilful display in a 5 each game.
Since the last ice rink in Dublin closed in 1999, the flyers have continued to live up to their motto of “Defying the Odds.”
The 2010 Dublin Flyers Reunion Game takes place on Tuesday, 28h December 2010 at The Odyssey Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Face-off is scheduled for 12:15 pm and is not only to wind back the clock but also to help raise money for the Irish Cancer Society.
More information can be found by using this link: