By John Kernaghan, Contributor
June / July 2002
Canada benefited from Irish leadership and grit in ending a 50-year gold-medal drought in hockey, which was an ongoing embarrassment in the birthplace of the game.
Pat Quinn took a collection of star players and despite some early wobbles, guided them past the United States in the gold-medal game.
“The key was players like Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman accepting short shifts of 45 seconds on the ice,” said Quinn. Quinn, who is now pursuing “the chance of a rare doubleheader,” the gold medal and now the Stanley Cup with his Toronto Maple Leafs, also received strong defensive play from Belfast-born Owen Nolan, who plays with the San Jose Sharks, and Brendan Shanahan of the Detroit Red Wings.
The Canadian women’s team also defeated the U.S. for a gold medal, this time in a taut game in which veterans like Lurgan-born Geraldine Heaney, whose motto is “Go Hard, or Go Home,” kept Team Canada composed during a string of nine consecutive penalties.
Heaney, the only woman featured in Hockey Night in Canada’s top ten goals for the 1989-90 season, also plays Gaelic football, and was honored in February by the Belfast Giants hockey club, dropping the puck at a ceremonial face-off at Belfast’s Odyssey. ♦