Top water polo club Cathal Brugha are celebrating their 80th anniversary this year with a big party in the Balmoral Hotel on Saturday 31st March.
Formed in 1932 for teaching recreational swimming,the club gradually moved towards competitive action in both water polo and swimming.and Jim Gilmore was their first Irish swimming champion when he won the Irish 880 yards title in 1943.A couple of years later Charlie Burns was the first member to play for Ireland at water polo.
One man who competed with both will be at the dinner .Ninety -one year old Rory Delargy was taking part in masters events up until fairly recently and still holds a couple of Irish records.
Swimming and water polo complimented each other right through to the early seventies when the emphasis moved almost exclusively to water polo.Joe McAvoy at that time a top swimmer is the last person to have captained Ireland at both disciplines.
Brugha have over the years won every major title(women and mens) in Ireland and have competed in European championships.They are the current holders of the mens National League title and are looking forward to next months Irish Senior Cup tournament which they last won in 2007.
Chairman Phil Kelly a multi capped Irish international and probably the club’s finest ever player is proving to be as effective out of the water as he was in it.He along with Ciaran McGurk have guided Brugha to becoming the first water polo club in Ireland to achieving the Club Charter award.”This is a major step forward for us as we aim to create a modern progressive organisation with a view to sporting excellence” he said last night.He added “The sports development officers at Belfast City Council have been a huge help and we also get assistance from Sport Lisburn”
They have provided a seemingly never ending assembly line of players for Ireland teams at all levels and tomorrow Chris Hodgkinson,Johnny Donnelly,Stio McMahon and Chris Devlin fly out to Prague to play in a six nation tournament in the Czech Republic.
Families have through the years been an important part of the history and the same names keep reappearing.Brugha won the Boys Irish U.16 Cup in 2008 and four of the team were the sons of people who had got winners medals in the 1970s.Mark/Ruari Barr.Ronnie/Patrick McDonald,Dessie/Tiernan Monaghan and Adrian/Nathan Hanna
Many capable administrators have surfaced over the years with four past presidents of the Irish Water Polo Association,Rory Delargy,Gerry O’Neill,Wally Clarke and Gerry Hanna.Wally is of course the current president of Swim Ireland and back in 1957 Frank Murray was president of UBIASA(now Swim Ulster).
A special presentation will be made at the dinner to the history making players of the womens team who won thre Irish Senior Cups in 2002/03/05.The mystery of the missing medals will also be resolved when the winners of the 1999 U.16 Cup finally get their gongs
A small number of tickets are still available and can be got by contacting any of the committee
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