City water polo clubs come up trumps in U19 championships

Corrib U19 Irish Junior men water polo champions, left to right: Kristijan Sunjic (Coach), Macdara O’Ghriofa, Zak Rather, Ronan Gill, Cronan Ward, Eamonn O’Byrne, Mark Moran (MVP), Jack Mulholland, Michael Murphy, Lorcan Gavin, Ronan Murphy (Captain with cup), David O’Connor, Goran Sablic (Coach), Cian McDonagh, Liam Smyth and Joe Smyth (Coach).
Corrib U19 Irish Junior men water polo champions, left to right: Kristijan Sunjic (Coach), Macdara O’Ghriofa, Zak Rather, Ronan Gill, Cronan Ward, Eamonn O’Byrne, Mark Moran (MVP), Jack Mulholland, Michael Murphy, Lorcan Gavin, Ronan Murphy (Captain with cup), David O’Connor, Goran Sablic (Coach), Cian McDonagh, Liam Smyth and Joe Smyth (Coach).

CORRIB and Tribes Waterpolo Clubs completed the historic achievement of winning the Junior men’s and women’s Irish U19 Championships respectively in the UL Arena last weekend.

Corrib kicked off the tournament on Friday against Drogheda with a decidedly sluggish effort which they finally saw out with an 11-9 win. On Saturday morning, they were in much better form against Cathal Brugha of Belfast who they defeated 13-5.

Sunsequently, in the final group game against Clontarf they stepped up a gear for a decisive win over the Dubliners 16 – 3. This set up a semi-final against Clonard of Belfast on Sunday morning. Corrib went into a commanding lead by the second quarter before resting key players in the second half of the game with an eventual score line of 13-9.

On the other side of the draw, perennial rivals St Vincent’s came through, after a hard battle with Drogheda in their semi-final.  This set up a Corrib v St Vincent’s final for the evening session – a re-run of the previous two deciders.

St Vincent’s adopted tight marking on Corrib’s top goal scorer of the tournament, Michael Murphy, which while effective in keeping him subdued, opened up space for David O’Connor and Mark Moran on the right wing. They capitalised to put Corrib in a commanding 5-1 lead at half-time.

However, St Vincents switched after the break to a double hole-forward attack which Corrib failed to react to, allowing the Dubliners a 5–4 comeback by the end of the third. Early in the 4th quarter, Mark Moran scored a cracking goal to take it to 6-4 to Corrib. St Vincent’s scored again but young Cronan Ward stepped up with a long-range top corner rocket to push Corrib into a 7-5 lead.

St Vincent’s had one last goal with 2:30 on the clock to give Corrib a nerve-racking finale, but with goalie Jack Mulholland on form and stout defending by Liam Smyth and captain Ronan Murphy, they were unable to gain any further traction.

With the final whistle, Corrib had their first win since 2010 and their fourth title at this level. Mark Moran’s 4-goal final earned him MVP of the Tournament, the highly coveted Arthur Dunne Memorial Trophy.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.