Aug 092007
 

IRISH POLOCROSSE ASSOCIATIONHISTORY OF POLOCROSSE IN IRELAND

Welcome to the wonderful world of Polocrosse, the fun equestrian sport for everybody, which has been compared here in Ireland to ‘hurling on horseback. Australian made and now internationally played, Polocrosse is the fastest growing equestrian sport in the world and the ‘Polocrosse Bug’ has caught on like wildfire in Ireland. More and more people from all walks of life are playing Polocrosse. If you are a newcomer to the horse world or an expert who has tried ‘everything else’ with horses, Polocrosse is the sport for you.

A Polocrosse racquet is not unlike an extended lacrosse stick with a larger net at the end. A sponge ball is used and riders ‘pick up’ and ‘pass’ balls to each other, with the object of scoring as many goals as possible.

Polocrosse is a simple game to play and understand. It is played by a team of six players, divided into two sections of three who play alternate chukkas of up to eight minutes each, 6 – 8 chukkas usually comprising a full match. The three players in each section consist of a No. 1 or Attack/Goal Scorer, a No. 2 or Centre-fielder, and a No. 3 or Defender. The total goals scored by the two sections in each team constitute the final score. Polocrosse can be played in an indoor riding arena, however for outdoor games, a Polocrosse Pitch is almost the same size as a soccer pitch, 146.5 metres x 55 metres.

Polocrosse is a skilful and fun game: It is a family sport and can be played by people of all ages and all abilities. There are grades for beginners and for those who are ‘expert’. When you play, you’ll meet people from all walks of life who have an interest in horses. It provides good healthy outdoor competition where teamwork and co-operation are highlighted.

Polocrosse first started in 1938 when Mr. & Mrs. Edward Hirst from Sydney visited England and saw an indoor horse exercise at the National School of Equitation at Kingston Vale, near London. It was used to help young riders take better charge of their horses. From this exercise the Australian game was developed and became the exciting out door horse sport we see today.

Brothers, David and Ivor Young introduced Polocrosse to Ireland in 1990 as an additional tourism attraction to their residential equestrian holidays business in Co. Wexford. Ivors wife Ann bought him a 3 day Polo Course with the renowned Polo Coach, Major Hugh Dawnay. Ivor mentioned to his brother David (a horse trainer and equestrian center owner) that wouldn’t it be fun to make up a similar game using only one horse. David had just read an article on Polocrosse in a UK Equestrian Magazine and to make a long story short, the two brothers had an Australian Coach at Horetown House some 5 weeks later.

In the early stages, the game was only played at Horetown House, Co. Wexford but it wasn’t long before news got around and Brian McMahon of Rathcannon in Co. Limerick was the next club to get going. Their was always serious rivalry amongst these two clubs, but in true Polocrosse spirit, a handshake after the game and a good few pints of Guinness always cleared the way until the next match.

The International Polocrosse Council have been very supportive of the Irish initiative to get the Sport operational in another country. Ongoing Support visits over the years were organized by Max Walters (World President) who arranged for key people from the Australian Association to travel to Ireland and help advance the quality of the game. These included visits from Max Walters himself, Neville Gilpin and his son Alan, Peter and Elizabeth Crauford, Paul and Fiona Brennan of Western Australia who have made two support visits to Ireland. Following these visits, The term “A Quiet Night in an Irish Pub” will never be the same Again.

The first ever Polocrosse Finals were held in Co. Limerick in 1995, with just two teams (nearly all on borrowed horses) participating, Rathcannon and Horetown Clubs. Compare this to the 2004 finals where 42 teams (everyone with their own horses) participated at various grades and levels, Juniors, Adults, D/C/B/A.

In 1996 Ireland went on Tour to Zimbabwe. 15 players enjoyed a trip of a lifetime. On arrival their standard was compared somewhat to the ‘Jamaican Bob Sleigh Team’, however after a month of grueling partying, coaching and playing, the Irish had mastered the art of losing gracefully, but had also been given a glimpse of how Polocrosse could and should be played.

In 1999, Ireland accepted an invitation from the Australian Association to tour South Australia and Victoria. The renowned player, horse trainer and coach Neville Gilpin from N.S.W. was assigned to the squad for the first three weeks with Tony Neylon coaching for the 4th week. This tour was made possible with considerable financial support and backing from the Australian Sports Commission, the Australian Association, the International Polocrosse Council and numerous private sponsors on the Irish side of the Globe. In addition to getting an insight of future development goals, coaching and umpiring skills for the sport and how the game could be improved in their own country, the Irish were also treated to visits to Vine Yards, the home of the Kelpie Dog and the famous RM Williams’s factory and facilities in Adelaide.

The Irish have had the pleasure of making friends over the years from all over the world and to hosting teams and players from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, South Africa, USA, Norway, France and more recently Germany.

The year 2000 saw the formation of a formal body, known as the Irish Polocrosse Association who were set up to replace the previous voluntary arrangement, and to develop and monitor the sport.

There are now 8 official clubs playing Polocrosse in Ireland, namely Birr, Dublin, Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow. The sport has also been played in Counties Carlow, Cork, Kilkenny, Wicklow, Sligo, Mullingar and Kerry.

April 2003 saw an Irish Squad participating in the first ever World Polocrosse Series in Queensland who beat the United Kingdom for sixth place in one of the most closely fought matches of the entire series.

The 2004 season ended with the National finals held at the Wexford Polocrosse Club. For more news on 2004, News Archives and details on the Irish Polocrosse Association along with contact information for the respective clubs please click on the Irish page of the World Polocrosse Website www.polocrosse.net

IRISH POLOCROSSE ASSOCIATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS 2004 – 2005

Chairman:
Paul Boland pboland@gizzup.com pboland@cica.ie

Secretary:
Martin O’Malley martinomalley101@yahoo.co.uk

Treasurer:
M.J. Morrissey mjmorrissey4@eircom.net

P.R. Officer:
Ivor J. Young iyoung@indigo.ie

I.P.C. S.Vice-President:
Ivor J. Young iyoung@indigo.ie

Safety Officer:
Davina Davern daverndavina@yahoo.co.uk

Horse Welfare Officer: c/o
Raymond Beresford frankpower69@eircom.net

Fund-Raising Officer: c/o
Martin O’Malley iyoung@indigo.ie

Grading Officer:
Brian McConnon marlhill@eircom.net

Director:
Liz O’Brien eobopticians@eircom.net

Director: c/o
Tim O’Shea pjbrowne@grassland.ie

Director:
P.J. Browne pjbrowne@grassland.ie

Director:
Malcolm Smith malcolmsmith@eircom.net

CHIEF UMPIRE – TONY O’DONNELL c/o Hilary_Barnes@eigmail.com

If you would like further information on any aspect of Polocrosse in Ireland, please contact P.R. Officer – Ivor Young at iyoung@indigo.ie

 Posted by at 4:15 pm

  One Response to “Polocrosse in Ireland”

  1. Good day
    The 2015 World cup will be played in South Africa.
    As an Irish citizen and my son playing rugby in Ireland now I would prefer to have the Irish stay at my hotel than the other squads.
    During the recent quadranguler held near Mooi River recently I met an Irish Umpire who stuck with the Ausies and Kiwis and had their suppers at my hotel, Blu Haze. I think it was Tony O’Donnell. We also had the Irish juniors and their families stay with us while playing against SA in Estcourt.
    I am making contact now as the Auzies are already wanting to book.
    I would further apreciate it if you be kind enough to forward me the contact details of one or two of the folk who came with the juniors a few years ago.
    I look forward to your response.
    Kind regards
    Allan Tweddle

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