"A" Grade for West Cork players at UCC TT Exam!
Report card written by Owen Kelly
The facilities at UCC’s Mardyke Arena are arguably the best in the Munster and the UCC Table Tennis Open provided the first provincial ranking action of 2015. It was yet another early start for the West Cork’s “Magnificent Seven” eager put their skills into action.
The U18’s is the oldest junior age group and West Cork were represented by Mair Kelly in the girls event and James Kelly and Niall O’Driscoll in this event. Mair faced a group containing the top seed for the day Kerry O’Mahoney (Kinneigh), both players succeeded in seeing off the challenge from the other girls to go head to head with both players assured of qualifying for the next round. Kerry showed why she deserved top billing with a 3-0 win and Mair was left to regroup for the next round. Mair faced Zofia Wawryzyniak (Leeside) in the semi-final and dominated the match earning another shot at No. 1 seed Kerry O’Mahoney in the final. Mair, nicknamed “The Predator” due to her uncanny ability to adapt, came out showing her grit and tenacity to full force. The match was close with both players being examined under pressure. The final fifth set saw the full force of this with a crucial point at 9/8 pushing both players to the limit. However it was to be Mair’s day and she went on to win the UCC Open title 11/8 in the final set.
At the same time on an adjacent table Erik Olsson was up against the U13 Top seed Isaac Leahy (Leeside). This was Erik’s second Final this season having lost in the Kinsale Open at the beginning of the season. Once again the two players brought their A games, with tremendous skill shown by both these young stars and once again it came down to the fifth set where Erik held his nerve at the end winning out 11/8 at almost the same time as Mair. This was Erik’s first Munster Ranking victory and well deserved after showing such commitment in training over so many months of training.
A third final was also being played at the other end of the hall with James Kelly up against the Irish No. 4 Alan Walsh (Ballincollig). Walsh has often brought the best out of James over the last couple of years but on this occasion Alan showed his superior ability dominating the match and taking the title. James, so often the hero of West Cork, had to console himself with the achievements of his team mates and to focus on his main U15 event starting almost immediately after the U18 final.
Jasmine Kelly West Cork’s sole U13 Girls representative was also in action at the same time, having made her way into the semi finals where she lost to Hannah Condon (Leeside) and finished 4th overall.
James, Niall & Erik all made their way through to the second round of the U15 Boys event with Erik and Niall facing off against each other for a 1/4 final place against James. Erik maintained his current form with a 3-set victory over Niall and James on the same margin moved on to the semi-finals against Jake Adler (Cloughjordan) and then to a Final against Niall Brown (Ballincollig). James showed why he has been undefeated at this age group for so long with an impressive 3-0 victory with an excellent display of power and attacking play.
West Cork’s future stars Suki Kelly and Aaron Olsson cut their teeth once again in the U11 category gaining valuable experience. Suki was delighted to receive her 3rd place plaque and Aaron was 5th in the plate.
Much credit has to go to Kayrin Ong and her band of helpers for the days play and to St. Tony who continues to provide Munster Table Tennis with his extra-ordinary talents.