In a thrilling development for Ireland Lacrosse, the sport is set to make its grand return to the Olympic stage after a 120-year hiatus. Lacrosse, which is often likened to hurling, appeared in the Olympic Games of 1904 and 1908.
Remarkably, in 1908, a certain Paddy Brennan, an Irishman who moved to Montreal at a young age, captained Canada to Olympic gold in the sport.
Now, the exciting news is that Lacrosse is back, but with a faster, more dynamic twist. The game has transitioned to a high-octane six-a-side format, known as 'Sixes,' which has been approved as the Olympic format. This modification simplifies the game and makes it more accessible to both players and spectators.
Sonja Egan, a player with two World Cups under her belt, encapsulated the Irish international team's excitement upon hearing this announcement, telling the Olympic Federation Of Ireland: "Amazing! It's a fast, enjoyable spectator sport and deserves this opportunity on the world stage."
Thrilled with the announcement!#lacrosse is officially Olympics bound! We are proud to be part of the movement for Olympic inclusion led by @worldlacrosse and we thank them & the global lacrosse community for the work undertaken to achieve this important goal.#irelandlacrosse pic.twitter.com/zUKPMDeEBk
— Ireland Lacrosse (@IrelandLacrosse) October 17, 2023
“I took Lacrosse up in college and it’s given me lifelong friends, teammates and some of the best memories at tournaments, from grass roots right up to my international caps."
“I hope this Olympic exposure will raise the profile of the sport internationally and encourages the growth of Lacrosse here in Ireland, building on our collective foundations for success well into the future."
The roots of Lacrosse run deep in Ireland, with a national league dating back to 2009-2010. The game's Irish origin can be traced to Newtownards, Co Down, in 1872. The national men's team was reinstated for the 2001 European Championships, and the women's team made a triumphant return in time for the 2005 European Newcomers Tournament. Last July, Ireland's U21 women also clinched fifth place at the European Championships in Prague.
A World Sixes Championship in 2026 is expected to act as an Olympic qualifier, while the European Sixes Championship in 2025 will serve as a qualifier for the former.
It's worth noting that Lacrosse's origins lie with the indigenous peoples of North America. The sport enjoys international representation by the Iroquois, part of a confederation of Six Nations peoples residing along the Canadian-USA border. They're among the world's elite in Lacrosse. Despite not initially being recognized by the International Olympic Committee, they're regarded as a national team by Lacrosse's international federation.
Lacrosse Ireland made headlines globally for their sportsmanlike spirit when they relinquished their spot at the World Games in 2022, advocating for the Iroquois Nationals to be included. Their noble efforts were rewarded, emphasizing the sense of unity and respect that transcends the game.