The National Aquatic Centre played host to reigning World Water Polo Champions Hungary who took on Great Britain this evening in front of a lively 2,000 crowd
This unique event was hosted by the NAC and the Irish Water Polo association and launched by Minister for Sport, Leo Varadker TD along with the Hungarian Ambassador and President of the IWPA, Bobby Nolan.
With the London Olympics only twelve months away, the Hungarians are using the NAC as a training camp ahead of the World Championships in China and also as a base next year in preparation for the London Games. Nolan is a close friend of Hungarian coach, Denes Kemeny and has been hugely influential in bringing the triple Olympic champions to Dublin. The GB team are tackling the Olympic event for the first time since 1958 and this was the first of two games between the teams.
Water Polo is played by seven players a side with the game divided up into four 8 minute quarters, only the keeper is allowed to use both hands and you have 30 seconds to pass the ball on. The warm up clearly illustrated to the unitiated the skills required as the Hungarian’s with an average height of 6’ 3’’ displayed an almost balletic poise firing the ball around. It is a huge sport in Eastern Europe with the Hungarians effectively the Barcelona of the sport and regularly attracting 10,000 plus fans to their games.
Thin Lizzy’s Cold Sweat announced the arrival of the teams with the Hungarians skippered by the triple Olympic champion Peter Biros. Talking to some Hungarian fans before the game, Biros is to water polo what Lionel Messi is to soccer.
However it was Team GB who shocked the Magyar’s netting after just 55 seconds from a penalty shot with captain Craig Figges slamming the ball home past Zoltan Szecsi. This stung the champions into action with Olympic gold medallist Denis Varga equalising before Biros stole the ball before powering up the pool to bury his shot past GB keeper Ed Scott who would endure a busy and forlorn night at the back.
A first penalty of the night gave Varga a second to put Hungary 3-1 up at the break.
Further goals in the second period from Zsolt Varga, Marton Vamos,a third from Denis Varga and and a Gergely Kiss penalty put the Hungarians 7-1 up before a second Figges goal late on made it 7-2.
The Olympic champions tore the GB team apart in the third quarter netting 6 goals thru Biros, Kiss, Steinmatz, Szivoz,Hosnyanszky and Harai with the British side grabbing a late goal from Alan Parsonage to leave Team GB with a mountain to climb 13-3 down.
A fourth goal from Varga and two from Bela Tork in the final quarter put the polish on a fantastic performance from the Olympic Champions to see off Team GB 16-3. On this evidence the Magyrs will be favourites to retain their title in London next summer.
Sportsnewsireland.com will have live score updates on all GAA Championship matches over the summer.