|Address|| 45a Deramore Park,
|Phone||(+ 44 28) 90 66 32 77|
|President 2008-2009||Jeromme Holland|
|Sports||Rugby union, ladies' hockey, men's hockey and squash.|
|Location||Belfast, Northern Ireland UK|
|History|| Merger of North of Ireland Cricket Club,|
North of Ireland FC
|Club Colours||Navy, Sky Blue, Red and Maroon.|
|Affiliation||Methodist College Belfast|
|1st XI/XV Kit|
Belfast Harlequins is a multi-sports club located off the Malone Road in south Belfast. The club name provides the overall umbrella for rugby union, men's and ladies' hockey and squash. The club has a very special on and off field relationship with Methodist College Belfast (MCB).
Belfast Harlequins was formed in 1999 with the merger of Collegians and North of Ireland Cricket Club and North of Ireland FC. The former clubs were two of the oldest and most distinguished clubs in Ireland. North sold its famous ground at Ormeau to pay for the redevelopment of the Deramore Park facilities. The club uses a version of the Maltese cross that MCB uses as its sports logo, with the colours being those of navy, sky blue, red and maroon. The North colours were traditionally red, blue and black, with Collegians using navy, white and maroon.
At two extraordinary general meetings held simultaneously in both North and Collegians, the members of both clubs voted to proceed with the merger to form the new club, Belfast Harlequins. As of 12.00 midnight, 18 November 1999, Belfast Harlequins came into existence. The first annual general meeting of the new club took place in March 2000. The new clubhouse at Deramore was opened in June 2002 by the then club president, Alison Watt, along with Jack Kyle OBE and Gilbert Paton.
On and off the field all three sections of the Belfast Harlequins set-up have been successful. Pictures and memorabilia of both clubs and grounds is placed around the bar area and throughout the club. There is an active social scene, many parties and events take place throughout the season.
In looking to the future, the club runs men's and ladies' mini-hockey and mini-rugby schemes. The launch of an Under 16 team in Rugby, Under 15 and Under 12 teams in Men's Hockey and an Under 14 team in ladies' hockey should ensure a steady flow of players for the future.
Deramore is located in the heart of south Belfast, flanked by the River Lagan and Lagan Meadows to the east and south, and overlooked to the north and west by large detached homes.
Deramore Park was the home to Collegians (and of Methodist College from 1919 until the school purchased Pirrie Park from Harland & Wolff in 1932). Deramore Park was bequested in trust for the use of the former pupils of Methody for its life by Mr C W Neill in 1941. A special board of trustees exists today in the name of C W Neill, and its consent was required for the merger in 1998, to allow the continued use of Deramore Park by the new club.
Deramore Park has one squash court, three rugby pitches, one cricket pitch, one synthetic hockey pitch, a two-bedroom apartment for use by foreign players and one bowling green which Belfast Bowling Club owns and plays on.
Deramore Park was a venue for the 2007 Under 19 Rugby World Championship, which was hosted in Belfast.
The Harlequins hockey sections essentially are that of Collegians as North of Ireland did not have a hockey section since prior to World War I.
In September 1967, Collegians Men's Hockey Club played and won its first ever competitive fixture, with a 1-0 win against Gallaher. In the first season promotion to the Intermediate League was secured with an unbeaten record in the league. This success was carried over to the 1968-69 season and the Intermediate League was again won. However, a restructuring of the leagues meant that the 1st XI had to win the League for the second year in succession to receive promotion to Senior League Section 2. The overall playing record in the first season was played 26, won 22, drawn 1, lost 3. They scored 111 goals and conceded 3.
In their first season in Senior hockey, they were pipped for promotion by one point, remaining unbeaten (Played 18, won 8, drew 10). However, the following year promotion to the top section in the Senior League was achieved. The team finished level on points with Annadale, winning a test match by two goals to one to gain their place in Senior League One.
The Harlequins Men's 1st team play in Section 1 of the league set up of the Ulster Branch of the Irish Hockey Union. The Men's section currently fields 5 senior teams, an Under 15s team and a thriving MUni Hockey section for Snder 12s.
The club achieved a place in the top section of the Ulster Senior League as Collegians on two occasions in the 1972-73 and 1988-89 seasons.
In the first season at the new artificial turf pitch at Deramore in 2000-2001 the Belfast Harlequins Men's Team won the Linden Cup.
The 2007-2008 season marked the 40th Anniversary of the founding of the men's hockey section.
Alan Green of BBC Radio 5Live fame spent a few seasons on Collegians First XI prior to pursuing his career in England. He was the first player for Collegians ever to be sent off in a competitive fixture. Players such as former Ireland Under-21 goalkeeper Iain Kelly, Cecil Andrews, Philip Duke, Ivan Kerr, Alan Smith, David Hutchison and Kevin Ryan formed the backbone of Collegians hockey teams over many years.
The club has had one full Irish International in Ian Kirk-Smith, who gained several full Caps whilst still a Collegian before moving on to Lisnagarvey. The Club has also had several players capped at Ulster Junior level.
On the administrative front Peter Wood served as President of the Ulster Branch of the Irish Hockey Union in 1999.
In 2006 coaching sessions for Under 15 and Under 12 teams recommenced after a ten year gap. Approximately fifty boys come to Deramore each week for coaching sessions managed by Carl Allen.
The Harlequins Ladies play in Section 1 of the Ulster Women's Hockey Union League. The Women's club is the largest in Ulster fielding 7 teams every Saturday.
In 2008 the ladies' 1st XI won a prestigious place in the 2008/2009 inagrual All Ireland League.
The ladies' 1st XI has not won a major trophy or competition in its history. The closest was in the Ulster Shield campaigns of 1945, 1993, 1995, 1999 and 2004 when the 1st XI were beaten Finalists. The Plate competition for first round losers in the Ulster Shield has been won on several occasions.
Home games are played on artificial turf at Deramore Park or The Brook Activity Centre and occasionally on shale at Pirrie Park.
Belfast Harlequins that have represented Ireland at full international level include Jenny McDonough and Suzanne Beaney. Currently Jenna Watt represents Ulster and Ireland at Under-16 Level, Helen Stevenson for Ulster and Irish Under-18 teams. Helen is 1st XI goalkeeper for Harlequins and Methody. Laura Wilson has represented Ireland at Under 18 Level, Rebecca Smith at Ulster Under 18 level and Laurren Hackney at Ulster Under 16 level.
The club has provided a number of Ulster administrators such as former Ulster Women's Hockey Union Presidents Gerry Gray and Leslie Spence. Coaches include Alison Watt who has managed the Ulster Ladies' Senior Team. At the Under 16 Schoolgirl Internationals, February 2007, Laura Callaghan made her debut as an International Hockey Umpire.
Youth hockey is organised by Roisin Walsh, who coaches an Under 14 team that plays in Section 1 of the Under 14s league. The partnership with the school, the 1st XI captain and Methody hockey coach Kelli Thorton, has seen more players coming into the club at all levels.
The Rugby Club field 5 senior teams, an Under-20 team, an Under-18 team and an Under-16 team, who all play in their Respective leagues within the Ulster Branch of the Irish Rugby Football Union. The First Fifteen play in Division Two of the All-Ireland League in 2008-09.
The Belfast Harlequins RFC most successful season was in 2004-2005. They finished third in the league table and played at Landsdowne Road in Dublin in the end of season play-offs. They lost narrowly in the Final to Shannon after a poor defensive display in the first half of the game. This is closer than a North or Collegians team had ever come to putting their hands on the Trophy. The 2006-07 season was a season of ups and downs. Despite winning the Ulster Senior League and reaching the Finals of the Ulster Senior Cup and the All-Ireland Cup, the club struggled in the All-Ireland League. In the last game of the season the club failed to beat UCD and were relegated to Division Two.
Some of the Junior teams, in particular the 5th XV, partake in the more social scene of club rugby having their own website and nights out together.
In Squash, Belfast Harlequins have an Irish Junior International in Ben Craig. The team play in the top section of the Ulster League and have had quite a successful run since the new court at Deramore was opened.