The Ireland Men’s U20 National Team had a fantastic showing at the inaugural European Men’s U20 Championship in Prague, Czech Republic which took place from 29 June to 6 July 2019.
The Irish team notched 3 wins in its opening 3 games – including a come from behind victory against the host nation in the opening game of the tournament. The team then advanced to the semi-finals, where it suffered a heart-breaking overtime loss to eventual tournament champions England. The Czechs then avenged their previous loss to Ireland in the 3rd place final, and the final tournament standings put Ireland in 4th place out of a total of 8 teams.
The team was led by Head Coach Tom Prior and Assistant Coach Clancy Almas. The Captains were Ruairi Dunbar, Patrick McShane and Kevin English. The top scorer for Ireland was Aidan Dempsey who finished with 13 points and he was ranked 6th overall in the tournament. Goalkeepers Stephen Magliocchino and Conor Breen were tied in 4th place overall for save percentage for the tournament.
Midfielder Aidan Dempsey (standing, far left) and defender Matt Loftus (standing, far right) were also named to the ‘All-Europe Starting 10‘ for the tournament.
The participation of the Irish team in this event was of huge importance – not only because it was the inaugural under-age European Championship, but also because half of the players on this Irish team will also be eligible for the Ireland Men’s U19 National Team which will participate in the 2020 Men’s U19 World Championship which is taking place in Ireland, at the University of Limerick from 9-18 July 2020. The experience for these players in Prague will serve them well when they compete next summer on home soil!