History of Canoe Polo in Ireland
It all started back in the early 80's when Declan Gavin and Ronnie Sheehan brought two boats known as Pony's back into the country to try out the sport. This then developed to the first league held in 1984 at Stewart's Hospital Pool in Palmerstown. The first team to win this league was the 'Past Masters' (ex-slalom team) from WWKC in Dublin. The team included Eunan Malone (Captain), Wire, Doc Martin, Barry McHugh, Stuart Toomey, Pat Blount and Ger McMahon. The winning team scored 50 goals during the season which was 22 goals ahead of their nearest rivals.
In 1984 a mixed team made up of WWKC and Castle KC when to Crystal Palace to see themselves beaten by England A (6-0) and France A (7-1). At this stage then then ICF rules were to be brought into line with the BCU rules to make a standard set of rules for all countries.
In 1986/1987 the main league in Ireland, the Dublin league moved to The School for the Deaf in the Navan Road. The owners of the pool at the time were finding that the pool was not being used much and were talking about shutting it down. DCPL moved into the pool and played for only an hour and a half session. This was followed by teams taking up training sessions and then with DCPL moving to 4 hours on a Friday night. Now The pool sees teams training nearly every night of the week. Teams have also found training sessions in Clondalkin Pool, ALSAA pool and Stewart's Hospital pool. The DCPL has grown from one division to 4 divisions with teams travelling from as far a field as Belfast and Kilkenny in the past. In 1990 this was up to 20 teams in 3 leagues. This is now up to 30 teams in 4 leagues.
On top of DCPL there are leagues now run in Limerick (Munster league) and Belfast (CANI league). The National Committee also run National Competitions. In 2005 there was only 5 competitions this has expanded in 2006 to become 8 competitions.This includes new competitions being held in Tullamore, Enniskillen, Dublin Docklands and Mullingar.
The first Irish team competed in International competitions from 1987. Members of that team would have included Declan Gavin, John Ringwood, Ronnie Sheenan and Roger McClure.
In 1994 the first World Championships was held at Ponds Forge in Sheffield. 18 Men's and 6 Women's squads from 18 nations took part. The Irish mens squad came a credible 7th place with the Women achieving 6th. We missed sending teams in 1995 and 1996 to the Italian Europeans and the Australian Worlds but in 1997 we send teams to Germany for the Europeans. That year the Men's squad came 8th and the Womens Squad came 4th. In 1998 we send teams to the World in Portugal That year we came 8th out of one of the biggest fields to date with 20 teams represented. This number of teams has only been beaten by the 2002 Worlds held in Germany. The U21 men came a credible 3rd in the Europeans in France. In the Europeans in Ireland in 2003 the Women's Squad came 5th out of a field of 11.
The Irish teams performance can be seen in the following table.
1999 Belgium 6th, 2000 Brazil No play, 2001 Poland 7th, 2002 Germany 17th, 2003 Ireland 9th, 2004 Japan 10th, 2005 Spain 10th, 2006 Netherlands 7th, 2007 France 8th, 2008 Canada 10th, Essen 2009 12th Italy 2010 13th.
1999 7th, 2000 6th, 2001 8th, 2002 8th, 2003 5th, 2004 10th, 2005 9th, 2006 13th, 2007 9th, 2008 12th, 2009 12th, 2010 No team.
7 Europa Cup 1999 Bel 7th, Europeans 2001 7th, 2002 5th, 2003 7th, 2004 No play, 2005 8th, 2006 10th, 2007 3rd, 2008 10th, 2009 No team, 2010 12th.
In 2003 Ireland hosted the European Club Championships and thank to the hard work of the people of Kilcock and the organising committee (Tom Colton, Carmel Vekins, Adrian Barber, Patricia McCormack and Maire Diggin) the competition was heralded as a success with all competitors leaving having enjoyed the competition.
In 2007 Ireland are intending to send four squads to the Europeans in France. The teams are going with the fill intention of performing to the best of their ability and hope to set a precedence for teams to beat in the future.
The sport in growing from strength to strength and with the hard participation of its volunteers we hope to expand the sport throughout the 32 counties of Ireland.