Table Tennis Ireland Players Alex Healy and Megan O’Brien along with Coach Philip Shaw represented Cork & Ireland at the International Youth Games in Coventry from the 11th to the 16th of August.
Megan O’Brien won a bronze medal in the Girls Plate Competition – the only medal placing for the Cork team in the entire competition. What a wonderful achievement, well done Megan.
Alex Healy reached the quarter finals in the Boys Competition, lots of great performances in a tough competition. Very well done Alex!
Both Alex and Megan were great ambassadors for themselves and table tennis in Cork and Ireland. A big Congratulations to Alex, Megan and Coach Philip on a great tournament. A great experience to compete in this fantastic tournament.
The Irish Junior boys team of Tom Colvin, Jonathan Mooney, James Skelton and Max Skelton, along with Coach Gervis Knox competed against the best teams in Europe in this year’s team event at the European Youth Championships.
The first day was tough for the guys, who were a little passive and nervy against a strong team from Turkey. They lost 3-0 but Tom had the best chance, taking their number 3 to the 5th set.
After a good training session, they came into match two stronger and much more composed against group seeds Denmark. This match proved to be an epic that went the distance with James and Jonathan taking out their number 1 SKARSHOLM (World No.77). This left the deciding game between James and HOLD which was a thriller going to five sets with James holding his nerve to close out 11-7!! A monster win for the lads and a great team effort to end Day 1.
Just the one match on Day 2 taking on Moldova after a good morning training session. Jonathan was first up taking on their number 1 in a cagey game with Jonathan coming out victorious winning the final set 11-8. James made light work of their number 2 winning in three straight sets. Tom played at Number 3 and took the win 3-1 after a small blip in the third set. The fate of the team lay with Ireland needing a result from Turkey over Denmark and it wasn’t to be as the Danes took the match 3-1 leaving Ireland third in the group and pushed out of the Top 28 teams.
Day 3 starts the battle for placement and Ireland drew Malta and Estonia in the playoff groups. The only game of the day was against Malta and the guys stepped it up to beat them 3-0 dropping only one set in the process.
Day 4 was an early 9am group match against an experienced Estonia whom Ireland has faced many times in senior Europeans in the past. This was the game that got away with a very slow start with No.1 James going down 3-0 to MOOS. Jonathan got off to a blistering start winning the first set against PUKK 11-5 and taking the lead in the second only to see momentum swing and PUKK held the next three sets to win 3-1. Again a slow start from Tom saw him trail KURVET 2-0 but picked up form and won the next three games to bring the match to a fourth match. James took on No.1 PUKK but couldn’t find his usual form and unfortunately went down 3-1. After this tough loss, the boys moved into the final placement positions for places 32-34 against Bulgaria and Cyrpus.
Day 5 started with another early 9am match and this time the boys were much more fired up and wanted to rectify their performance from the previous day. Jonathan started the game in good form dropping only one set to their No.1 ELIA to swing the momentum in Ireland’s favour. James disappointed with his performance against Estonia came out on fire and took their No.2 TSISSIOS 3-0. Max stepped in to play the match at 3 and was unlucky not to convert set 1 & 3 against THEOFANOUS and went down 3-0 leaving the match score 2-1 for Ireland. No.1 James stepped up to play game 4 against ELIA and he didn’t disappoint winning 3-1 and leaving Ireland with a great 3-1 win over Cyprus.
The final match of the tournament was against Bulgaria and the boys looked to finish with a win. The first match was between Jonathan and EFTIMOV and after four close games he went down 3-1. Second game James took on the lefty STOYANOV which was a crucial game to get Ireland on the board and he delivered with a 3-1 win. The game sitting at 1-1 left Tom coming back into the mix and proved too strong for their No.3 SARIEV not dropping a set and taking the match 3-0. EFTIMOV proved to be a tough opponent bringing his form through and taking out James 3-0 to leave the match hanging on a decider. The final match of the tourament was between STOYANOV and Jonathan and he finished the job-winning 3-0 giving Ireland a well-earned 3-2 victory!
Overall a great week of Table Tennis from the Irish boys who can go away with a monstrous win over Denmark, played a tight game with 8th place Turkey and finished with wins over Malta, Moldava, Cyrpus and Bulgaria.
Quote from the team coach Gervis Knox “Overall very happy with the boys performances going away great confidence knowing we can go toe to toe with some of Europes best teams. Our players are not used to these conditions and only play a few international events but adjusted very quickly to produce excellent results against table tennis powerhouses Denmark and Turkey”.
Congratulations to the full team and you have done Ireland very proud with your efforts. Sophie Earley will fly the flag in the singles event as she starts her campaign on Tuesday – best of luck Sophie!
The following players have accepted their selection for the European Youth Paralympics Games, in Finland. The team travel to Helsinki from the 27th June – 4th of July.
European Paralympic Youth Games are organised as an introductory international event for many aspiring Para athletes. We are very excited to have two of our own para athletes competing in this prestigious event.
We would like to wish the very best of luck to all our players and Coach Sam Logue who travel to Helsinki next week!
Participation in the World Youth Championships is by invitation only for those players ranked high enough to qualify, and Sophie showed what she is really made of at this top-quality event in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal.
Sophie reached the last 16 in mixed doubles with partner Daniel Berzosa (Spain) losing out to the eventual winners Sora and Harimoto 4/1. Following that, she paired up with Clea de Stoppeleire (France) against Ivanovo/Terekova (Russia) to claim a 3/2 victory. Next up were the German pair of Kaufmann/Griesel in the quarter final. When Sophie and Clea took the first set and led 8/4 in the second, it looked like a shock was on the cards, but the Germans recovered and eventually won 3/1.
Following the doubles exploits came the prestigious singles event. Sophie defeated Mariana Santa Comba (Portugal) in the last 32 to set up mouthwatering clash with Welsh wizard Anna Hursey. In an epic battle, where the lead was constantly changing, Sophie showed her grit and determination fighting back from 8/10 down in the seventh set to win 13/11 and advance to the quarter final.
Sophie’s run came to an end when she faced Miwa Harimoto (Japan) who is tipped as Japan’s next superstar, following in the footsteps of her famous brother. Harimoto was relentless and although Sophie fought bravely, the Japanese girl won 4/0. Sophie showed good signs in the 3rd set when she had a game point at 11/10, but Harimoto was just too strong on the day.
It was another fine display from Sophie on her table tennis journey and Coach Conn Higgins, who was extremely proud of Sophie’s displays throughout the week, said, “it was both an honour and a privilege to coach Sophie at this prestigious event.
Sophie Earley travelled to Italy and Slovakia to compete in the WTT Youth Contender events in Lignano and Senec between 24th October and 7th November. She was competing in both the U15 and U17 singles. Keep reading to see how she got on!
First up was the Lignano event with the U17 competition. Sophie sailed through the group stages in this event, beating Alice NILSSON (Sweden) and Nora POLONYI (Hungary). Sophie topped the group reaching the round of 32, where unfortunately she lost out to Kendra MOLNAR of Hungary 1/3. However, these matches provided Sophie with great preparation for the U15 Singles.
In the U15s competition, Sophie was grouped with Mia BUIC and Nina SKERBINZ, coming out on top with two 3/0 wins. Sophie was then in the knockout last 32 stages receiving a BYE into the last 16 where she met another Hungarian opponent, Sophie BARCSAI – and this time it was Sophie coming out on top with a 3/0 win to take her through to the quarter finals.
After a few long days of competition, a determined Sophie faced her toughest opponent yet – Sena SMAILJI (Croatia). Sophie took the first 2 games, but Sena came back to win the 3rd game. Sophie continued to dig deep and secured a place in the semifinal with a 3/1 win. Again, in the semi-final Sara TOKIC (Slovenia) proved tough opposition but Sophie held out for a 3/1 win in a tough challenging game. Waiting in the final was Lin Qian of Singapore, now with an U15 WR of 5. We knew this game would go the distance with two worthy finalists both demonstrating their great skills on the table. Lin Qian held firm and won the gold by the closest of margins 3/2 and Sophie secured a superb silver medal to add to her collection.
Onto the WTT Youth Contender in Senec
But there was no rest for Sophie as she went straight to Slovakia to compete in the WTT Youth Contender in Senec. Wasting no time, Sophie topped her group in the U17 Singles beating Leah TVEIT MUSKANTOR (Sweden) and Nina NEMETHOVA (Slovakia). Sophie then faced the challenge of EliskaSTULLEROVA in the Round of 32, with Sophie grappling a 3/2 win. Sophie continued her success with a 3/0 win in the round of 16 vs Vera VOLKAVA (Belarus). In the Quarter finals, ZHOU Jingyi (Singapore) – now with an U19 WR of 10, awaited Sophie. Sophie put up a good fight, but JingYi was victorious and ended up finishing in 2nd place for the u17 Singles.
In a hard-fought game, Coll provided the barrier for Sophie’s pathway to another medal. Coll overcame Sophie in an entertaining match (3/1). It was not to be for Sophie on this occasion in Senec, but a great run in a difficult tournament.
Overall, a great week for Sophie to be able to compete against the top players worldwide in U15 and U17 competitions. A Silver medal is a great achievement in a top-class tournament in the WTT Youth Contender in Lignano, and we believe that this is not the last time we will see Sophie Earley on a podium!!
Irish Teams announced The following have been selected to represent Ireland at the final Qualifying Round for the 2021 European Championships, taking place in Serbia 25-30 August 2021. The final draw for the Qualifiers will take place on 25 August.
Claire Heller (Dun Laoghaire)
Mia O’Rahilly Egan (Dun Laoghaire)
Erin Thompson (Glenburn)
Ryan Farrell (DCU)
Alex Gillen (Dublin)
Joey Nelson (Dublin)
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