A week of celebration follows Team Ireland’s Gold medal success at the Hockey Special Olympics National Games

Thursday June 20, Dublin: It’s been an incredible week since Ireland’s Hockey Intellectual Disability team took the gold medal at last weekend’s Special Olympics National Games in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

The team was selected in February 2024 after a competitive process, with ten players making the final squad with an additional five players in reserve. The tournament took place on Saturday June 15 and Sunday June 16, with an Opening Ceremony on Friday June 14.

The team kicked off their journey with an exciting opening ceremony, complete with the ceremonial lighting of the Olympic flame and many festivities. 

On the way to the finals, the Team pulled off a number of stunning victories including against hosts The Netherlands, winning 5-1 and the Czech Republic, winning 4-1.

The team faced a strong German side in Sunday’s finals. Germany struck quickly, scoring two goals in the early stages of the first half. Despite the setback, the team remained composed and relentless pressure from Team Ireland resulted in two penalty goals, successfully taken. Then, in the dying seconds of the game, Ireland successfully converted a penalty, sealing a dramatic 3-2 victory and securing the coveted gold medal for Ireland!

The team, following their success, have been feted with much celebration across the week, culminating in an invitation to meet with both Taoiseach Simon Harris and Tánaiste Micheál Martin at Government Buildings today. 

HockeyID is a complementary version of Hockey played by athletes with intellectual disabilities and is part of Hockey Ireland’s Hockey4All programme, an initiative across Ireland supporting Hockey Clubs as they build greater inclusion in the sport. Park Developments are supporting partners for the Hockey Ireland Hockey4All programme as well as the Ireland HockeyID representation team.

Next up for the team will be a trip to Bulgaria in August as well as a home hosting tournament in Dublin soon after that. Next year the team will travel to Germany for the EuroHockey ID Championships. 


Speaking about the winning team, Scott Mulligan, Head Coach said: 

“This gold medal isn’t just about individual talent; it’s about the incredible teamwork and camaraderie this group has built. They played for each other, on and off the pitch. It’s been an honour to coach such a special group of athletes and I look forward to seeing the amazing accomplishments they achieve in their future”.


Speaking about the win, Anne McCormack, CEO Hockey Ireland added:

“We are so happy for the Players and how well they represented Ireland. But also, how this story will spread across the hockey community and increase the number of Clubs and teams participating in our Hockey4All inclusion programme”.


Commenting on the occasion, Sean O’Neill of Park Developments said:

“We are so proud to support such an amazing group of athletes, they have done their country proud. It’s lovely to see them get the recognition and support they deserve.”


The Team: 

  • Goalkeeper: Ben Purcell (Monkstown)
  • Defenders: Cameron Ward (Botanic), Andrew Armitage (Skerries) – Vice Captain
  • Midfielders: Matthew Burke (Three Rock Rovers) – Captain, Niamh Kiernan (Railway), Aoife Coulson (Bray), Ruthanne Gallagher (Railway)
  • Forwards: Joe Whelan (Three Rock Rovers), Tony Ryan (Wicklow), Charlie O’Reilly (Monkstown)


Coaching Staff:

  • Head Coach: Scott Mulligan
  • Assistant Coach: Klass Jan de Vries
  • Assistant Coach: Rhona Lennox
  • Manager: Margie Loughran