Tournament poles apart as club make a splash in NAC
THE continuing absence of a pool without a shallow end in town prevents Drogheda Water Polo Club from hosting their Invitational Tournament next weekend close to home - so the impressive National Aquatic Centre will just have to suffice!
The event runs between 1.30 and 8.30pm and will involve a Leinster U-17 Boys selection competing against their counterparts from Ulster and Connacht.
But what sets this interesting tournament apart is the involvement of Drogheda's invited guests from Gorzow, Poland.
Five Drogheda players will be represented on the Leinster panel, including recent Tri Nations victors Luke Callaghan and Conor Gradwell, together with Duncan Mullaney, Carl Fogarty and Conor McQuaile.
The afternoon promises a feast of top-class water polo, as it pits the best of the home-grown emerging talent against each other as well as the cream of the crop from the west of Poland.
Each of the three provincial sides feature members of the successful Irish team from last month's tournament in Glasgow, and they will be renewing acquaintances with some of the Polish team that they were pitted against in this year's Debica Cup and European Qualifiers.
Drogheda and Gorzow have been closely linked in the field of water polo for more than 10 years, with many young Polish players coming to live and work in Ireland, and at the same time bringing their expertise in the sport to bear on the Irish game.
Players like Michal Zawadzki and Rafal Ivanowicz lined out for many seasons with Drogheda prior to returing to their homeland. The club's current first-team netminder Rafal Graczyk and outfield maestro Lukasz Cegiel still remain in Ireland, having both married here.
Drogheda say it is a great honour to host their Polish friends and they warmly welcome coach Piotr Diakonow and his team to the North East for this weekend's tournament.
Piotr was Polish national goalkeeper for more than 20 years from the late 1970s and his daughter Ewa, a Polish champion swimmer, is swim coach for Drogheda Water Polo Club.