Ballincollig Open 2014
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Day 1: The Juniors
The Ballincollig Open was held over two days, the Juniors playing first on
The first of eight junior events was the Boys' Under-18 event. Almost all of the top seeds were playing, only Usaamah Hussain absent due to academic duties! There were 25 entries, and the Group Stages did not throw up too many upsets, only Auryn Harrington's win against Niall O'Driscoll upsetting the odds - and proving how much Auryn has improved this season! Niall is probably too good to be playing in the Plate competition, even in the older age group, and it was no surprise that he reached the final, losing to Tralee's Darren Chester. The real action was in the main event, and a last-16 upset saw Michael Creagh from Tralee taking probably his biggest ever scalp, beating James Barry from Kinneigh by 3 sets to one, before losing to James's team mate by the same margin. Despite a great match between Alan Hobbart and James Kelly in their quarter-final, it was the top four seeds in the semi-final and old rivals Alan Walsh and Colm Murphy met in an exciting final. On this occasion, Colm was too good for Alan, and the first title of the day went to the home club!
There was just a handful of entries in the Junior Girls, and Mair Kelly had a good 3-1 win over Kerry O'Mahoney to finish runner-up ahead of Kerry in the round robin. But it was Chloe O'Halloran, as usual, who reigned supreme and finished the day unbeaten, dropping only a single set (to Kerry) in her four matches.
In fourth place was Shelly Tobin from Kinneigh who took the Plate medal, with Ballincollig's Nora O'Sullivan awarded runner-up in the Plate. Shelly played in the Senior event as well, there's no end to her energy!
There was a good showing in the Under-13 Boys, and in the early stages there were good performances from Nykyta Puotkalis, Erik Olsson and Ian Ross who topped their groups in defiance of the seedings. Ballincollig's Joe Linehan has been the man to beat in this event all season, and powered through his early matches only to be stopped in his tracks by Conor O'Callaghan, playing superbly and relentlessly, and after beating the number one seed in the semi-, played an epic final against the number 2 (Matthew Pop) to deservedly finish on top of the podium! Well done Conor!
The corresponding girls' event was dominated by Leeside, they had four entries and all reached the semi-finals, with Zofia Wawrzyniak beating Silke Heinen in straight sets in the final. The Plate was just decided on count-back, in favour of Jasmine Kelly from West Cork.
After lunch, all the Under-11 matches were played in the adjacent Sportlann "Dome", and at times the noise level was more like a circus than a table tennis tournament. But under the watchful eyes of Ian, Declan and Edel, the tournament went very smoothly. Isaac Leahy beat Erik Olsson in the final to take another title for Leeside (Erik had a good straight-sets win against in-form Matthew Pop in the semi-final). It was another Leeside one-two in the Girls', Silke making up for her earlier runner-up performance by beating Hannah Condon in their final.
So there was just the Under-15s left, with ten tables all to themselves in the main hall. It was a familiar final, between James Kelly and Niall Browne, but it was big news for Tralee to have two players in the semis for the first time (the author may be slightly biased, of course!) with Darragh Boyd and Kevin Browne reaching that milestone with wins over Conor Leahy and Adam Lazaryev respectively. In the Plate, Auryn Harrington beat Donard Calnan.
The Under-15 Girls' was a ladylike affair, Kerry O'Mahoney dominant with five straight-sets wins and Zofia & Julia just behind, there was nothing to separate the last three girls with one win each.
An excellent day of table tennis, well done to Sean and his team of willing volunteers, and Gus who refereed the day. Oh, and thanks to the caterers for proper home-made scones!!
Full results available and photos to follow...
Day 2: The Seniors
A more leisurely start at 10:30 on the Sunday had everyone rested and ready for action. Both started promptly, and the Under-21 groups were first on the tables. It was never going to take too long, with just nine entries. Shane O’Connor’s impressive performance last time out saw him seeded third, but Ian Brown (fourth) was in the same group, and Ian’s win pushed Shane into the semi-final against all-conquering Declan O’Brien. The second semi-final was a very close match between Ballincollig team-mates Ian and Colm, this time Ian was a 3-2 winner who went on to lose to Declan in the final.
In the other half of the hall, the Vets was under way. A good entry of a dozen players meant there was a good standard. An exciting match between Anthony Redmond and home favourite Conn Higgins saw Conn come out on top, 13-11 in the fifth! Dan Foley had a great 3-0 win against Conn in the quarter final, but lost to Pawel Kopacz in the semi, and unfortunately Dan had to withdraw from the Seniors event after only a couple of matches. Old rivals Philip Shaw and Anthony contested the second semi-final, with Anthony winning through to set up a noisy all-Killarney final!
After five sets, just a couple of points separated the two, this time in Anthony’s favour, taking another Munster Vets title.
There was a huge entry (by Munster standards) in the Senior Men’s event, with 24 players entered.
The top twelve were allocated into the Premier division, and the standard was very high. “Come-back kid” Mark White was on top form, beating Ian Brown in the groups after already beating “wild card” Semih Bitim (Tralee… well, Turkey really!) who came within a whisker of causing a major upset against Ian Brown, losing narrowly in the decider. That gave Mark the (very slightly) easier draw in the knockout stages, and straight sets wins over both Philip Shaw and Pawel Kopacz set up a final encounter with Declan O’Brien. Declan won 3-0, but Mark’s form this season has been very impressive: Class II runner-up at the Munster Open and now runner up in the Senior Singles in Ballincollig, in probably one of the strongest fields in a Munster Ranking for many years!
The other divisions were topped by Brian Kelleher (Division 1) and Sylwester Hajdul Division 2) respectively.
A smaller number of players in the Senior Ladies’, just seven entries, but still high-quality stuff. Chloe O’Halloran was the eventual winner over Edel O’Reilly in the final, Edel had Kerry O’Mahoney hot on her heels in the semi-final – 3-2!
Holding the event over two days might mean a smaller number of juniors playing in the senior event, but does make for a very enjoyable and relaxed day and an early finish, instead of events going on until 9 or 10!
Thanks again to hosts Ballincollig Table Tennis CLub for their efficiency and hospitality!