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Meet the Mayo ice-hockey team

Sport

ICEBREAKERS Pictured are members of Mayo Bulls hockey team at their ice-hockey competition at Mayo On Ice in Castlebar last month. From left: Liam Smith, Gvido Roze, Keelan Bancroft, PJ Cunningham and their goalie James Osborne is at the front.

Feature
Edwin McGreal

THERE are many sports that are traditional to County Mayo, but it’s fair to say that ice hockey is not one of them.
Snow and ice are still rare enough visitors to the county to be treated with excitement. This was clear to be seen at ‘Mayo On Ice’ in Castlebar over the Christmas as young and old came from all over the county, and beyond, to try their hand at ice skating on the Mall.
And after the success of Mayo On Ice, the county could be set to have its first ever ice hockey team.
The Mayo Bulls are an inline hockey team who compete in the national league, but are in the process of getting registered with the Irish Ice Hockey Association.
Four of the Bulls have just finished a Level 2 Junior hockey coaching course run by USA Hockey in partnership with the Irish Ice Hockey Association.
Two of these coaches – Gvido Roze and Keelan Bancroft – were two of the main marshals at Mayo On Ice. Joining them on the course were the club’s coach PJ Cunningham and Liam Smith.
It’s all in the hope of being registered and competing in the Irish Ice Hockey League in 2019.
But Mayo Bulls will not be sitting idle in the meantime.
Formed in 2013, they compete in the national league in inline hockey, with games played typically in Longford and Portadown, the only two places on the island that have inline hockey rinks.
They are starting lessons later in the spring and are inviting everyone to come along to An Sportlann in Castlebar.
“Whether it’s just to come and watch or get the skates on themselves and try it out, we welcome everyone,” said Gvido Roze, a Latvian native who is Secretary of Mayo Bulls.
“Hockey is a fun, fast paced sport. It would be new to most people in Mayo and we would love to see more people getting involved,” he added.  
Keep an eye on the Mayo Bulls Facebook page for details closer to the time (search for Mayo Bulls IIHC).
And Mayo On Ice was a perfect chance to raise the profile of the club with budding young (and not so young) ice-skating enthusiasts.
So it was that Mayo Bulls held a shoot-out competition at Mayo On Ice to promote the sport.
Local businesses sponsored prizes and the event was a ‘massive success’, says Gvido Roze.
“We had over 600 people come by the rink and over 150 of them scored at least once,” he told The Mayo News.
Entrants were split into three categories based on the ticket they used on the day (family ticket, adult ticket and junior ticket) and the top two people in each category were able to come down to the rink on January 4 to take shots at the Mayo Bulls goalie James Osborne.
Paddy O’Brien won the family ticket category, earning him a photoshoot sponsored by Studio X. The runner-up in this category was Einin Casey-Noonan, who won two free ice skating tickets sponsored by Mayo On Ice and a €20 voucher from Maple Moose, Westport.
Jake Glavey won the adult ticket category and a hamper filled with Irish goodies, sponsored by Clew Bay Cookies. Second in this category was John Hegarty, who won two free ice skating tickets sponsored by Mayo On Ice.  
In the Junior ticket category, the winner was Reilly Cowan who won inline skates, a helmet, elbow and knee pads and skating lessons sponsored by Mayo Bulls.
Second in this category was John Tomlin, who won two free ice skating lessons sponsored by Mayo On Ice.

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