Dromina’s Michelle strikes gold in historic first for Ireland

The Ireland Women’s team which included Dromina’s Michelle Leahy as player and assistant coach won the 2019 European Ultimate Frisbee Championships (EUC) on recently beating Switzerland 15-8 to get the gold. This is the first time an Irish national team has won gold at an inter-national Ultimate Frisbee tournament.
After a gruelling week-long tournament in Gyor, Hungary, playing in temperatures of up to 37 degrees, the 21-woman Irish squad finished top of the 15-nation tournament. Ireland went into the EUC seeded 11th in the rankings. After coming second in their pool, having lost to the current 2015 champions Finland, Ireland came back to beat the Finns in a rematch by 1 point in a nail-biting sudden death match in the quarter-finals, where the Irish women demonstrated their skill, patience and athleticism. They then moved on to beat the favourites, Russia, in the semi-finals on Friday, before an emphatic 15-8 win over Switzerland (seeded 2nd) in the final on Saturday.
The squad was captained by Sarah Melvin and coached by Ian French. The team was supported by three assistant coaches Jen Kwan, Michelle Leahy and Zoë Langsdale and Richard Buggy as Man-ager.
The final was streamed live to Ultimate fans and supporters across the world. The quarter final against Finland and semi-final against Russia were streamed by YouTube and watched by over 2,400 viewers.
This is the first time any Irish national team has won an international championship and builds on the strength and hard work of a small but passionate community. The first time an Ireland Women’s international team participated in the EUC was in France in 2003, and the first Ireland Women’s international match win was at the 2007 EUC against Belgium, in Southampton. The closest Irish national teams have come to gold in the past was silver wins by the Irish Mixed Team on the beach in 2013, Irish Mixed Team at EUC 2015 and Irish Men’s Under 20s in 2017.
The Irish Mixed Team won Spirit at the 2019 EUC and finished 8th. The Irish Men’s team finished 11th in the 2019 EUC.
Among the many messages of congratulations the team received was one from President Michael D Higgins who described the victory as a wonderful milestone in the history off this fast growing sport.(See photos on page 65).