How it began
University College Cork (U.C.C.) Squash Club was founded by Jack Barrett and Professor John Sheehan in 1972 with the construction of the indoor sports facility at the Lee Maltings Complex. In 1975, the U.C.C. Men’s Squash Team secured the first win for the Squash club, taking the Munster Division 4 league title and winning the national University inter-varsities.
In 2001 the club has moved from the Lee Maltings Centre to the brand new Mardyke Arena located just off the Western Road. The club has strong affiliations with the local squash clubs in Cork, and nationally with the major Irish universities, with teams competing successfully yearly in local and national tournaments.
U.C.C. has produced many squash names that are still active in squash divisions spread throughout the world.
The U.C.C. Squash Club would like to express their sincere gratitude to all those that make this club possible, from those that founded, those that have played and represented the club year in and year out, for the generous funding and organization from UCC. And most importantly to those that have trained our members, we express a special thank you to Kevin Quinlan, John Cullen, Sonny Cummins and Tom Horgan.
Having scratched a near 30-year itch by notching up their first victory in the Irish Squash Intervarsities since 1983, UCC Squash Club is hopeful that their achievement will raise their stock following a two-year period in which the floods of 2010 robbed them of their base in the college.
At Galway Lawn Tennis Club last Friday and Saturday, the team members played with a passion and fire that, in the case of the Men’s A Division, the main event of the Squash Intervarsities, caught their more favoured opponents napping.
Current captain of the UCC Squash Club, Laura Horan, paid tribute to the Men’s A line-up led by team captain Fionn O’Brien, and included Jaime Balbuena, Frank Ryan, Donal Coughlan and Tim O’Donovan. The Men’s A team made a 5-0 clean sweep of their matches against UCD and Queen’s University Belfast, and then beat Trinity College by 3-1.
“That really is a huge achievement for the Men’s A team. At that level, the big teams are Queen’s, UCD, Trinity and also NUIG. That’s because they have players with international experience in their ranks, whereas our players have been competing only for the past two to three years,” Laura said.
Asked if the players had shocked even themselves with their achievement, Laura said: “I don’t know if I would described it as a sense of shock, but there was certainly a sense of delight. All of the matches played were very, very close, and came down to the ‘in the moment’ performances in the games. But after 30 years, we were very hungry for it.”
The Men’s A team victory was achieved during a grindingly long day last Saturday at the Salthill venue, which began at 9am, and did not end until 10pm. Every five-person team was seeded one to five, and matches were played between the corresponding seeds on each team.
There were other UCC achievements to celebrate from throughout the two days of the tournament.
The Men’s B team came second in its division, winning two matches but losing three. And while the Ladies’ A team failed to make an impression, the B team captured their division by winning all of their matches 3-0.
“To win and come second in the main event is quite some achievement,” Laura said.
– Laura Horan
Picture: From these beginnings, the club has gone from strength to strength, attracting students and staff alike to the courts. Many notable names in this sport have played, trained and represented the U.C.C. squash club in their days in university, and have then gone on to achieve great success in this field. Squash popularity peaked in the mid 1970s and 80s, which can be reflected in the squash numbers of the club and successes during this period.
Group Photo: Members of the victorious UCC Squash Club Men's A team with their coach, Kevin Quinlan: Donal Coughlan, Fionn O’Brien, Jaime Balbuena, and Frank Ryan.