About an hour before the opening face-off of the Belfast Giants' EIHL semifinal playoff game last Saturday against the Cardiff Devils, a car bomb exploded in the town of Omagh in Northern Ireland, killing Ronan Kerr, a 25-year-old Catholic policeman. Although no group claimed responsibility, one theory was that Kerr had been targeted by dissident Republican elements who did not want a Catholic working for the state police. The death in a town 58 miles west of Belfast, one infamous for a 1998 bombing that killed 29, was a stark reminder that the Giants' lofty mission to be part of the peace process in this riven land (SI, March 21) can seem a Herculean task on the best of days, a fool's errand on the worst.
This is an article from the April 11, 2011 issue
After finishing the regular season one point out of first place, Belfast saw its playoff hopes ended 4--1 against the Devils. Defenseman Mike Jacobsen, a Blackhawks fifth-round draft choice in 1999, scored the only Giants goal. Said Belfast coach Doug Christiansen in an e-mail, "The Giants are more than a team. We started the season wanting to be noticed for our on-ice success, but we ended being recognized for something much better. There will be other championships, but the Giants are about what sports can do for a city and a country."