The roar of our fans was deafening. Flags were flying. People were singing, dancing, and cheering at the top of their lungs.
It was a celebration of celebrations.
No one would have ever known we just lost.
The men’s team lost 5-15 to the English team. But no one cared. We were so proud of the men for making it to the European Finals that we may have well won. We cheered long after the English fans grew weary of us drowning them out, causing them to grow silent and stare enviously at our party. We kept celebrating until the men got their medals and jumped into the stands to sing and dance with us. And the celebration continued all night long.
I still get goosebumps thinking about it. I felt part of something much bigger, swept up in the excitement and euphoria of Ireland lacrosse. Our pride and energy caused us to win the title of “Best Supporters” of the European Championships. Not a gold medal, but we will take it!
It has been three weeks since the final game. I promised myself to post updates every day, but the days blended together, making the championships feel like an alternate reality.
My knee is a daily reminder that the championships were not so long ago. I hyper-extended it in our game against Sweden, side-lining me for our final rematch against the Netherlands. Convinced it was a MCL tear, I chastised myself daily for babying my knee and limping about. I learned two days ago that I fractured my tibial plateau in the impact, which is why I was still in such pain when walking. No surgery, but I’m on crutches for the next three months. Quite a souvenir! However, I took so much more away from the experience than an injured knee…
I made great friends from all over the globe. I played midfield for the first time and fell in love with the ability to play both sides of the field. I loved being part of a team, especially a team that represents Ireland with such fierce pride. I learned to be gentle with myself when I’m injured, as I would be to others in that same situation. I experienced true camaraderie between the men’s and women’s teams that was unparalleled by any other team at the tournament or any other team I’ve been part of. I learned how to be a better coach by being a player again.
Our team did not end the tournament as we hoped. We tied one game and lost our last two games by one goal. The difference between 5th and 8th place. While it was disappointing to end in 8th place, we grew a lot as a team during our trip together. We all took away something different from the trip, but we will always share our time as the 2012 Ireland European Championship team.
I’m not sure what the future holds for me. I have to focus on healing my knee so I can get back to coaching full-time and training for our October trials. I don’t know if I will be ready for tryouts, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it. I can’t rush my bones to heal, though I wish that I could.
I know our 2012 Ireland team will never be the same again. I hope I’m part of the team, but we shall see. Either way, I’m honored to have been part of this team and to have had this incredible experience. Thank you to all the people who supported me. I am so appreciative for every text, post, email, call, and hug that I received.
Hope to see you in the 2013 World Cup. GO IRELAND!
Some fun pics…