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Freestyle: Diving makes a splash as new Swim Ireland season gets underway

Gerry O'Neill

THE new aquatics season beckons for Swim Ireland, with diving taking centre stage at the 11th annual Irish Open Diving Championships at the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin from November 11-13.

Ireland's recent Olympian Oliver Bingley will be the big attraction and, with free admission, it is a great opportunity to watch all of the new talent that is emerging in the sport.

There was plenty of youthful talent at the annual Lisburn Mini (U11) and Maxi (U13) water polo competitions that were played at the Lagan Valley Leisureplex last Saturday. Sixteen teams took part in the superbly organised five-hour long event, which culminated in Brugha just missing out on the double when after beating Bangor in the Mini final they lost out to Drogheda by 3-1 in the Maxi final.

Bangor's Max Escott was the popular and deserving winner of the MVP award in the Mini event with Brugha trio Enda McGurk,Aidan Hughes and Peter Murchan also well in contention. Jay Watson, a great-grandson of Brugha legend Jim 'Daddy' Watson, picked up the award for the Maxi tournament.

There are two big games down for decision at the NAC on Saturday when Clonard begin their National League campaign with an interesting clash against Half Moon. The pair last met in the 2015 Irish Senior Cup, when Clonard came within a whisker of causing a major upset in a 10-10 draw.

Both teams are now under new management, with Jim McConvey and Henry Johnston having taken over at Clonard, although it is not yet clear who will replace Paul Kealy at Half Moon. With the Moon having lost two of their three opening games, it would not be a big surprise if Clonard came out on top in this game.

Unbeaten St Vincent's meet Sandycove in a repeat of last season's Irish Senior Cup final in the other top game (4pm).

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