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All you’ll ever need to know about Dolphin Rugby Club

We delve deep into the history of a club that produced rugby stars for Munster, Ireland and the Lions.

Dolphin's Eoin O'Shaughnesey and Dave O'Mahony celebrate their win over Cork Con.
Dolphin's Eoin O'Shaughnesey and Dave O'Mahony celebrate their win over Cork Con.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

EACH WEEK THESCORE.IE will give you the low-down, interesting facts and fascinating anecdotes on an Irish rugby club.

We take a trip to Cork and catch up with a club that calls Musgrave Park home and were formerly coached by Declan Kidney.

Dolphin RFC

  • Founded: 1902
  • Home grounds: Musgrave Park
  • Club colours: Navy, yellow and white stripes, navy shorts, navy Socks with yellow and white stripes.
  • Club Captain: Christy Condon [Munster  & Irish Club International]
  • Honours: Cork Charity Cups in 2012 & 2013, A.I.L Division Two [2003],
  • Notable Internationals: Tomas O’Leary [23 caps], Terry Kingston [30], Tony O’Reilly [29], Michael Kiernan [43], Denis Hurley, Jim McCarthy [28], Bertie O’Hanlon [12], Phil O Callaghan [21], James Downey [1], John Quill [6 with USA].
  • Munster Contracted Palyers: James Coughlan, James Downey, James Cronin, Cian Bohane, Niall Scannell, Sean Dougall, Denis Hurley.
  • Munster Academy Players: Darren Sweetnam, Rory Scannell, Ryan Murphy, John Maddigan, Darren O’Shea.
  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/DolphinRfc
  • Twitter: @dolphinrfc


James Coughlan of Dolphin [Munster and Ireland] charges past Eoin O’Malley and Erik Jackman of Belvedere in 2008. INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

Richy Whelan — Dolphin P.R.O

Cork’s Dolphin RFC was founded over a century ago in 1902 as a winter pursuit for members of the famed Dolphin swimming club. In the last 111 years Dolphin has evolved while making a great contribution to Irish Rugby and the fabric of Irish sport with its members playing pivotal role in memorable sporting moments.

Declan Kidney, a former Dolphin player like his father and brothers, took up his first senior coaching position with Dolphin guiding the club to the top Division of the AIL in 1997 before going on to coach Munster to European Glory and Ireland to a Grand Slam.

Scrum-half of that team was former Dolphin player Tomas O’Leary [now with London Irish]. The club has the distinction of having players on both Ireland’s Grand Slam victories in 2009 and 1948 . Bertie O’Hanlon, a member of the ’48 side, now 89 years young, is still a regular at all of Dolphin’s home Ulster Bank League.

Two Dolphin men James Coughlan, who has played over 100 AIL games for Dolphin, and Terry Kingston share the honor of captaining Munster in victories over Australia.

Many of TheScore.ie readers will remember seeing Mick ‘The Kick’ Kiernan as Ireland’s Triple Crown hero in 1985 with his winning drop goal. Mick’s son James is continuing the Kiernan tradition in Dolphin is a prolific try scorer from the wing in the league. He possesses the Kiernan kicking gene and scored 20 points from the boot for the Dolphin Seconds in their recent victory over neighbours Sunday’s Well.

Dolphin are an active club with players from 5 years of age to close to their 50s . Over 200 underage players take the field every Saturday morning in Musgrave Park along with 5 adult teams . This season Dolphin have also initiated Ireland’s newest ladies rugby team. The Dolphin senior team are now in their eighth consecutive season in the premier division of the UBL.

Former Cork hurler Darren Sweetnam played as key role in Dolphin’s recent win over Cork Constitution and is really developing into a top class player. Another player to catch the eye in that game was back rower John Quill. A native of Youghal, Quill earned an international call up for the US Eagles and played in their victory Georgia last weekend.

Mick Kiernan — Former Dolphin, Munster, Ireland and Lions player


Kiernan toured New Zealand with the British & Irish Lions in 1983. INPHO/Billy Stickland

The Munster Senior Cup used to be the big competition before the introduction of the All-Ireland League. There were some fiercely contested knock-out games against the four other big teams from Cork and Limerick sides such as Young Munster, Shannon and Garryowen. We had many Titanic battles with Cork Con. but, in my time, the furthest we ever got was the semi-finals.

I played alongside some great players, such as Terry Kingston, Phil O’Callaghan and Fergus Aherne. My sons played with Presentation and James is now with the senior team and doing well. It has been brilliant having Dolphin back in the top division and great for Cork rugby to have that rivalry back.”

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About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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