2020 Nationals Trophies @ IWA (1)

Maiden Senior Titles for Finn & Gillen, as Dublin and Ormeau lead the way with three titles each

The much delayed 2021 JOOLA Irish National Championships finally took place on 20/21 November 2021, in Valley Leisure Centre.

With various restrictions still in place, and with a congested calendar, there were a number of changes and redraws from the original Nationals event draw and format, but all the main challengers remained involved from the original entry, and the event went ahead largely as planned. Across nine different decades, through war time, troubles, weather delays, and a pandemic, the National Championships has been running since 1937, and 2021 saw another successful event.

Day 1 saw the Mens and Ladies, Mens U21, and Cadet Singles events get under way. The change in date had impacted a number of players across all events, with illness and missed connections causing the withdrawal of several other players, however there was a high quality field across both Senior events. A number of upset results across the Mens event early in the singles ended up with an all Dublin top half, as Alexander Gillen took on Tom Davis, while Dillon Byrne faced Joey Nelson. Meanwhile, in the bottom half, there was a distinctly Ormeau feel, with the clash of the Skelton brothers, as well as Zak Wilson facing 2020 Silver Medallist Ryan Farrell (DCU). With Gillen coming past Byrne at semi-final stage, and Farrell accounting for James Skelton in a close five-setter, the question to be answered was whether Farrell would go one better than last year and take the Senior title, or would Gillen record his first National Singles title victor at any level. A strong start from Gillen left Farrell chasing the game and, despite conceding the 3rd end, Gillen stepped up a level in set four to take his first National title. The Ladies event saw the late withdrawal of former Champion and top seed Mia O’Rahilly Egan, which left the field wide open for everyone else. An all Ulster top half saw Lucy McIvor come past Erin Thompson, and Rebecca Finn defeat Anna Kelly, both at QF stage, Finn scrapping her way to the final in a tight 5 setter. In the bottom half, Sabina Devereux was comfortable in the quarters against Renata Gadula, but had to dig deeper at SF stage in a see-saw 4 setter against Claire Heller (who had earlier beaten Laura Finn in the quarters), with Devereux winning out to make the final. The SF match had taken it out of Devereux, though, with Glenburn’s Finn never really threatened, easing to a 3-0 victory to take a first Senior title.

In Mens U21, there was danger throughout the draw, but it was a second final appearance of the day for Gillen, coming past Max Skelton at QF stage and Jonny Mooney in SF, Mooney earlier defeating Adam Faulkner. In the bottom half James Skelton eased through to the final, defeating Joey Nelson and Dillon Byrne at QF and SF stages, Byrne earlier defeating Barry O’Keeffe. A very tight match, at the end of a long day for both players, saw Dublin TT’s Gillen take his second National title.

The Cadet events were volatile affairs, with seeds tumbling throughout both draws, however the seeding held true at the top of the draws with Loop’s Gellert Moravcsik confirming his top seed status with a win over Ben Watson (NICS) in the final, having come past Bruce Tan in the semi finals; Watson took his place in the final with a win over Aedan McGivern in their semi final. Cadet Girls also saw the top seed emerge victorious, Anjali Singh defeating Grace Looney in an all Ormeau final, with Singh defeating Lily Smith at SF stage, and Looney coming past Emily Flynn in their semi.

Mini-Cadet kicked things off on Sunday, and with clubs struggling under restrictions, now for a third season in a row, the Mini-Cadet field was smaller than usual. Despite this, some high quality matches saw Grace Looney (Ormeau) take the Girls National title ahead of Lily Parke (Glenburn), while Bruce Tan (Loop) is the Boys National Champion, ahead of club mate Vincent Ni.

The Junior events closed off the weekend, with previous National Champions and Runners Up scattered across both Boys and Girls draws. In the Boys draw, top seed Dillon Byrne had to do it the hard way, defeating the 2nd, 3rd and 4th seeds (Craigavon’s Tom Colvin, and Ormeau’s Jonathan Mooney and James Skelton) en-route to his first Junior Boys National title, with a 3-0 win in the final against Mooney. The Junior Girls finished out the day, with an all Ormeau 1-2, Anna Kelly squeezing through ahead of Lucy McIvor.

As with every event there is a huge amount of work that goes on beyond the scenes, but, even more than usual, this event would not have happened without the effort and contribution of a number of people, who went above and beyond what should have been necessary. Our office team, Shauna & John, had to deal with a huge number of changes and plan adjustments, including managing last minute withdrawals and communications. Our Referee Con O’Ceadaigh, Events Manager Kieran Reilly, and the Events Committee had multiple challenges, dodging land mines everywhere (many of which kept appearing from nowhere!), which they handled with amazing resilience. Volunteers at the event, including Referees Assistant Niall O’Flaherty, and local Umpires Jay McAllister and Adrian Brown, as well as other volunteer Umpires throughout the weekend, made a huge difference to the smooth running of the tournament. With nobody available from the Ulster Branch, we are also thankful to the volunteers from Dublin TT who travelled up early to Valley to set up the hall. Finally, former Ulster Branch Chair Arnold Morgan was the lynchpin, presenting the prizes and working with the office and the Events Committee, as an ordinary volunteer and in an independent capacity, for the good of the whole membership. Without him, the National Championships would not have happened, and the membership owes him a debt of gratitude.

2021 National Champions

Senior Mens – Alexander Gillen (Dublin)

U21 Mens – Alexander Gillen (Dublin)

Junior Boys – Dillon Byrne (Dublin)

Cadet Boys – Gellert Moravcsik (Loop)

Mini Cadet Boys – Bruce Tan (Loop)

Senior Ladies – Rebecca Finn (Glenburn)

Junior Girls – Anna Kelly (Ormeau)

Cadet Girls – Anjali Singh (Ormeau)

Mini Cadet Girls – Grace Looney (Ormeau)

2020 Nationals Trophies @ IWA (1)

Joola Irish Junior & Senior National Championships

The Board of Table Tennis Ireland is delighted at the return to tournament play this weekend with the premier event of the year, the TTI National Championships, to be held in the Valley Leisure Centre, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim.  It promise to be an exciting competition.

The Board recognises that the cancellation and subsequent rescheduling of this event caused considerable inconvenience and disappointment to our players and volunteers. TTI continues to engage directly with Sports Ireland about Pandemic related guidelines and restrictions, always with the aim of a safe return to sport at the appropriate time.

The Board would like to thank our staff, officials, Management Committee and volunteers for their dedication and perseverance during this difficult period but particularly our players who have been practicing and waiting for the return to competition.

Chris Kitchen Photo

Chris Kitchen Appointed the Interim Chair of Table Tennis Ireland

The Board of Table Tennis Ireland is delighted to announce that they have appointed and would like to welcome Chris Kitchen as the Interim Chair.

Kenneth Strong, TTI Director and former President on behalf of the Board said “It is great to welcome Chris to TTI, we feel that the timing is just right to bring someone in from outside the association who has a proven track record and can bring a different perspective to the organisation. We have an exciting sport that can and should be attractive to a much bigger part of society and we believe that Chris can help us set the foundations to achieve this.”

Chris joins us during a significant period of disruption to our sport due to the Pandemic and we hope that he will lead us through a Table Tennis “bounce back”. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of a healthy Ireland and, because it is so accessible to all, our sport can and should play a leading role in that. Chris will be leading on getting more people actively involved in the sport from participant to volunteer, capitalising on Table Tennis’s key benefits to mind body and soul and helping people to reach their own personal goals.

Chris will also be able to lead on the development and finalisation of our Strategic Plan which will be our road map for the next few years. Chris’s appointment also provides us with an opportunity to review the structure and develop TTI to become a professional, efficient and effective organisation for the benefit of our members and all our stakeholders.

Chris comes from both a sporting and business/commercial background having run successful companies but also being on the boards of European Federations and other National Governing Bodies. Over the years he has been a level 3 coach, a technical official, an event organiser, chair of selection panels and as a mentor/executive coach. Most recently he was the CEO of Triathlon Ireland where, supported by the Board, he was able to build a team that delivered significant growth and attracted partnerships with substantial sponsorship from a strong financial and governance foundation.

On his appointment Chris said “I am really looking forward to working with Table Tennis Ireland. Table Tennis is a sport that is easy for anyone to take up whatever their background and now that indoor sport is once again able to operate there is a huge opportunity to grow the sport in Ireland. I am keen to work with the Board, the Clubs, the members and all our stakeholders to see what we can do to maximise the impact of our sport. No matter what your fitness level, your age or your ability Table Tennis can provide an exciting way for you to get involved in sport I want to welcome as many as possible to our vibrant community.”


Cecil Walker RIP

Table Tennis Ireland are saddened to learn of the death of Cecil Walker MBE at the age of 89.  Cecil was an Irish Selector in the early 70’s and led the Irish Table Tennis Team to victory in 1973 when the team of Jimmy Langan, Tommy Caffrey and Karen Walker (née Senior) gained promotion to Division 2 in the European League (photo below).  

A group of people posing for a photo

Description automatically generated

Cecil was an excellent administrator having been Chair of Lisburn Table Tennis League and the driving force behind some major Ulster Open events.  Cecil’s first love was cricket, and although he was heavily involved with Lisburn Cricket Club and held Presidency roles with both the Northern Cricket Union and the Irish Cricket Union, he still retained an interest in table tennis.  He attended the Ulster Open at Lisburn Racquets Club with his daughter Gloria only a few years ago.  

We would like to extend our condolences to Cecil’s family and friends. May he rest in peace. 

mia new

Catch up with female player and coach Mia O’Rahilly Egan

We caught up with Mia O’Rahilly Egan, a Table Tennis Ireland player and coach who has moved over to Italy and has begun a new table tennis journey with Clemintina in Jesi. Mia is also taking part in our WIS Racquet Sport Coaches Leadership Programme, putting her newly learnt skills and development into action over in Italy. Keep reading below to see how Mia has been getting on in her new coaching and playing journey in Italy.

If you told me that I would be coaching full-time and playing in the Serie B Femminile League here in Italy this time last year, I would definitely not have believed you! A coach of mine called Marco Berzano who trained with me in Ireland when I first started playing Table Tennis about 10 years ago got in touch with me last year about playing league for his club Clementina in Jesi, in the Serie B Femminile and also coaching full-time in Ancona, Italy.

Mia with Coach Marco

I honestly wanted to start straight away and I was really excited to begin playing competitively. When I first arrived I immediately felt welcomed  – especially by the coaches Sonia and Sergei in Jesi, the players and everyone I’d be working with here in Ancona. My weekly schedule consists of coaching kids in Jesi on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday alongside Sergei and Sonia (both of whom I learn a lot from every week) as well as fitting in a training schedule during the week which mostly consists of practicing with Sonia. Then on a Tuesday and Thursday, I am in Ancona coaching the kids with Sonia who has become a close friend of mine the past couple of months and someone I am very grateful to for helping me settle into a completely different environment to back home. After the kids session finishes ( It flies by) – I coach the adults alongside another coach,  Eduardo, who has taught me a lot and a guy that I can turn to for advice when needs be.

Mia with Coaching Partner and Teammate Sonia

My weekends are usually free. If not, they consist of myself playing in the league or coaching kids from Jesi in tournaments around the region of Marche.

My teammates from Clementina in the Serie B Femminile (From the left) Maggie, Bea, Rachele, Myself and Sergei

There are more positives than challenges of course but the most challenging is not being able to speak Italian fluently. However I have also discovered that you don’t necessarily need to be fluent in the language to communicate with the kids. This is what makes my job easier and the best part of being able to communicate with them with your hands or by making eye-contact demonstrates that they know that you’re dedicated. As a result a trust is formed between the coach and player. 

From Left to Right: Eduardo~ [who coaches with me in Ancona], Sergei~ [my coach and also the coach that I help out with in Clementina (Jesi)], Michele~ [One of the players that I train with in Clementina(Jesi), Mia, Marco (Coach in Jesi) & Roberto~ [Another player that I train with in Clementina (Jesi)

Lastly I want to say how rewarding it is as a coach to see the kids enjoy the sport because it reminds me of why I started to play table tennis and why I continued to play. I hope that the girls reading this might think of picking up a bat and join a club nearby or those who are thinking about becoming coaches in the near future have learnt something new about my short-time experience as a coach.


The death has occurred of Christine Doyle

The Association is sad to advise of the death of Christine Doyle on Monday 8th of November. 

She was a very popular member of the Para Table Tennis Squad. Her focused and competitive nature was obvious from her early involvement with Para Training Camps. Her enthusiasm and love of sport was clear, as she was not only involved in table tennis but left her mark on wheelchair basketball. A remarkable sportswoman.

Christine flew the Irish flag proudly and secured many podium places at various International tournaments during the 2012 / 2016 Paralympic Game cycle. She will be remembered by all who knew her as a great ambassador for Irish Para Table Tennis.

Christine will be remembered by all at Table Tennis Ireland and she will be sorely missed by all. She was a credit to the Irish Table Tennis Association and how she represented us in every event and camp.

On behalf of the Board and all the membership, we would like to extend our condolences to Christine’s family and friends, may she rest in peace.

Book of Condolences found at the following link: https://rip.ie/death-notice/christine-doyle-bayside-dublin/475523


A Successful Week in Italy and Slovakia for Sophie Earley

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!!


Home Nations, Glasgow 12-14th November 2021

Irish Teams announced
The following players have been selected to represent Ireland at the Home Nations, taking place in Glasgow from the 12th – 14th of November.

Senior Ladies

  • Sabina Devereux (Wexford)
  • Claire Heller (Dun Laoghaire)
  • Erin Thompson (Glenburn)

Senior Men

  • Ryan Farrell (DCU)
  • Alex Gillen (Dublin)

Junior Girls

  • Silke Heinen (Ballincollig)
  • Nicole Scott (Glenburn)

Junior Boys

  • Dillon Byrne (Dublin)
  • Tom Colvin (Craigavon)
  • James Skelton (Ormeau)

Cadet Girls

  • Grace Looney (Ormeau)
  • Niamh Mason (Lisburn)
  • Anjali Singh (Ormeau)

Cadet Boys

  • Isaac Ellison (Pays Rochois & Genevois TT 74)
  • Matthew Mooney (Ormeau)
  • Senan Sheridan (Ormeau)

Best of Luck to all players and coaches at this years Home Nations.