Ultimate Frisbee has been in Ireland since about 1995 where it was brought to these shores via players from the likes of America (where the sport was invented), Canada and the UK. Most notable of these was Simon Cocking from Bristol, England. The sport managed to grow by establishing itself in universities where a high turnover of foreign, Ultimate-wise students aided its development. The very first Irish Ultimate Frisbee clubs originated in the Dublin area.
Ultimate Frisbee started in UCC in 1998, when a Welshman named David Rosenfeld moved to the college with a bag containing a few cones and some discs and began teaching eager students how to play. The original UCC team was named the “Cork Coyotes” and had a distinctly cosmopolitan and multinational mix comprised of players from Spain, France and the US. Since then teams from UCC Ultimate have used the name “Skulltimate” to incorporate the skull and crossbones logo of the college. While the club has still retained its multinational mix, it has swelled to include 70 plus members, the majority of which come from all over Ireland.
UCC has been competing in Irish, UK, and European tournaments since 2002, when the first Irish Intervarsitites were held in Cork. At this early period in Irish Ultimate history, only four teams (Trinity, UCD, UCC and DIT) contested for the title of Ireland’s best university culminating in the inaugural victory for UCD with UCC second. The eight years following on from this humble event has seen an explosion in the varsity scene with the 2011 Intervarsities hosting 16 teams and over 180 student athletes in total. Irish universities with established Ultimate teams include UCD, Trinity, DCU, DIT, NUI Galway, University Limerick, NUI Maynooth, Tallaght IT and Queens University Belfast. This number is being added to all the time. Currently, teams are being set up in Waterford IT and Limerick IT.
As well as the university scene, there has been a concentrated effort of introducing Ultimate into secondary schools. A number of schools in the greater Dublin area have established teams in recent years such as Gonzaga College and St Mary’s and members of UCC have put in considerable effort to do likewise in the locality. All these efforts have appeared to pay off as in the summer of 2009 Ireland sent its first junior team to the European Youth Ultimate Championships held in Vienna, Austria, and in the summer of 2011, the first junior ladies team to the European Youth Ultimate Championships in Wroclaw, Poland.
For international competition, Ireland is heavily represented. The Open and Womens’ teams have competed at European and World championship level for a number of years. This summer will see many UCC players compete at the Under 23 World Championships in London.