“In the Beginning””
It all began in 1902 when at the close of the summer season three young sporting members of the Dolphin swimming Club,Messrs Louis Daly, Harry Golden and Fred Thomas – formed a Rugby Club as a means of keeping their swimmers together and active during the long winter months.
The full committee of the swimming club approved and for some early years were sponsors and financiers of their offshoot the now famous Dolphin Rugby Football Club. The baby grew and learned to stand on its own and matured into Dolphin RFC of Today.
Under the forceful presidency of Cork Solicitor Wm. J. Hegarty who held the top post for over 30 years. The club started in Junior and Minor ranks capturing the Munster Junior cup for the first time in 1912/13. Flushed with this success the club applied for and was granted Senior status and played in the Munster Senior cup in 1913/14.
The Great War 1914-1918 delayed the appearance of the first Dolphin senior team as all rugby activity was suspended. On the resumption the club was able to field Senior, Junior and Minor teams. Dolphin soon made its presence felt in the Senior Grade.
In the early years records indicate that they played at Ferry Walk, which became the UCC grounds at the Mardyke. By 1913 the club had begun planning their games in Church Road Blackrock, they remained there until the 1921-22 season when a pitch was secured in Ballintemple village, about 2 miles from Cork City. It had no pavilion or washing facilities and the players were kindly granted permission to tog out in Murphys pub and then walk about a quarter of a mile to the field.
The Munster Senior cup was won by a strong and durable team, under the captaincy of scrum half Dicky Coleman in 1921. Further Senior Cup victories followed in 1943/44,1944/45, 1947/48 and 1955/56.
In 1942 the club transferred to Musgrave Park its present home and a year later enjoyed a remarkable success winning nearly every competition they entered, Munster Senior and Junior Cups, Cork Junior Cup and League and the Cork Minor Cup and league.
In 1956 a spacious and well equipped clubhouse was opened at the new headquarters in the presidential year of I.F Mahoney and the opening ceremony was performed by an old member, Irish International front row forward Charlie Hanrahan who in that year was president of the Irish Rugby Football Union.
Extra dressing rooms and dining room and Bar facilities were added in 1976 to provide for the ever-growing Youth section which is an integral part of the club.
Heading into the eighties the Dolphin colours were kept to the fore in the International scene. Michael Kiernan became the most capped player in the history of the club with 43 caps. Also capped in the eighties was Terence Kingston who went on to captain Ireland on six occasions and Fergus Aherne and in the nineties Jack Clarke.
The All Ireland League started in 1990/91, Dolphin did not qualify in the first season but won the Munster Senior League and following a round robin where they had to play their home games in Templehill, won promotion to Division 2.
Dolphin were promoted to Division 1 after finishing runners up in Division 2 in 1996/97. It was a great season for the club, the Junior 2’s and Junior 3’s won League and Cup doubles that year.
Dolphin made a quick return to Division 2, however, in the club’s Centenary Season (2002/03), Dolphin won Division 2 and were also successful in the AIB League Final.
It was once again a brief visit to Division 1, however two years later were back in Division 1 and qualified for Division 1A as one of the top eight sides in the country in 2009. A 3rd place finish was in 2010 was Dolphin’s highest ever finish.
Tomás O’Leary was on the Irish Grand Slam Team in 2009, a team coached by former Dolphin outhalf and coach, Declan Kidney.
The most recent Dolphin internationals are Niall Scannell who started v Italy in the 2017 6 Nations and Rory Scannell v USA on 10/06/2017, a game where the 2 Scannell’s played and faced another Dolphin man, John Quill- they became the first Munster siblings to play together on the Irish Team in the professional era
In 2019 Dolphin had another capped international, the Finish Captain, centre Jussi Viljanen as well as Czech international Albert Fronek.