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Obituary: Tommy Kirk - Water polo legend who picked up his first winner's medal aged 41

The world of sport took a big hit with the passing of a true Corinthian.

Tommy Kirk, who was 79, began a life-long love affair with water polo as a child during the war years when he walked through the doors of Templemore Avenue Baths. He joined the famous old Donegall club, which was heavily family-orientated.

They enjoyed a fair bit of success at junior and underage level but the big one, The Irish Senior Cup, always eluded them. That is until 1978, when at the age of 41, the tough defender picked up his first winner's medal on a team coached by Gerry Majury and managed by Dave McShane.

It was a double joy for Tommy, as elder son Victor, a strapping 16-year-old at the time, picked up the first of his three gold medals.

No task was either too big or too small for Tommy, as he moved effortlessly into the administration sector.

He was both Chairman and Treasurer of Ulster Water Polo as well as President and Treasurer of Ireland Water Polo.

Everything that Tommy did was carried out willingly and on a voluntary basis. In fact, there were more than a few occasions when he dipped into his own pocket to make sure that teams were properly kitted out and air and boat fares settled on time.

Tommy was honoured last year at the Swim Ireland Congress for a lifetime of service and he and wife Lilian travelled to Limerick to receive the award.

Tommy was a proud and happy man that his children and grandchildren followed in his footsteps. Sons Victor and Denver are both former internationals and Denver is now a top referee. Grandson Jonathan has played at international level for both Ireland and Great Britain and another grandson, Lewis, currently plays on the Ireland youth team.

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