Cup final hero is back for more as Racers continue to rebuild

Prolific forward Michael Ireland has agreed another season with Murrayfield Racers.

The 23-year-old enjoyed a productive 2019/20 campaign, scoring 24 goals with 34 assists for the Racers in all competitions.

Ireland was part of the club’s double-winning squad in their first season back on the ice and he played an integral role as they repeated the trick last term.

The early cancellation of the season was a source of frustration for Ireland and he says he is eager to get back on the ice with the Racers.

“It’s a shame the season was cut short, but there is nothing we can do about that,” he said.

“At least we came away with some silverware, and if I had to win only one cup I would choose the NIHL North Cup, so we can’t complain too much – it was a spectacular achievement.

“For the upcoming season I want us to pick up where left off, winning cups, pushing for the league title and improving as a team.”

Ireland’s standout moment last season was undoubtedly his stunning goal against Whitley Warriors in the second leg of the NIHL North Cup Final.

His effort looked to have handed the Racers victory, but they were pegged back by the Warriors before going on to clinch the trophy in overtime.

Ireland admits he hadn’t fully recovered from his exertions in the first leg and wasn’t feeling at his sharpest during the return fixture.

“I like to keep something in the tank for later in the game when the opposition defenders slow and I knew my chance would come,” he added.

“Unfortunately, I had snapped my only stick in the second period and was playing with Archie Homes’ back-up stick he used with Murrayfield Juniors U14s – small and very flexy.

“With about three minutes to go, I got hold of the puck down low in our zone, chipped it off the boards around a defender and used the last of my energy to speed down the ice, cut to the middle and the puck just zipped into the net.

“It was fantastic to get a goal like that in a big final, but it was a team effort overall. We all put in the work, hung on until overtime and won the cup.”

(Image permission: Racers Media)