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EARLEY CLAIMS IRELANDS FIRST EVER MEDALS AT EUROPEAN YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIPS IN VARAŽDIN, CROATIA

With partner Silvia Coll (Spain), Sophie faced the challenge of the Czech Republic with a stirring 3/0 victory in the round of 32 doubles.

Again, in the last 16 France provided stern opposition but the Ireland/Spain combo held out for a 3/1 win.

Quarter-final Sophie/Silvia faced Slovenia. Again a stirring 3/0 victory put Ireland into the semi-final.

Now Ireland had its first ever medal at European Youth championships.

Top seeds Kaufmann (Germany) /Rosu (Romania) provided the barrier to gold. The barrier to gold proved too strong, so Sophie though disappointed had secured Irelands first ever medal.

History had been made but the story doesn’t end there.

In the singles Sophie like a hurricane blew all opposition a side, defeating Baiasu (Romania) 4/0, then Terekhova (Russia) 4/1, Massart (Belgium) 4/0 and Bled (France) to storm into the semi-finals.


A second medal secured, but which colour?

In a tense exciting affair Sophie fought with passion and no little skill but Kaufmann proved a mountain to high to climb and Sophie claimed her second bronze medal.

In the Team event Sophie played with partner Anjali Singh. The girls played 4 matches, all ending on a 3/2 score line with losses to Netherlands, Serbia and Lithuania; with a win against Latvia. Ireland finished 26th of 34 countries.

Coach Conn HIGGINS said it was incredible to see the Ormeau legend perform at such a high level in intensely pressurised situations and to capture not one but two bronze medals.

This did not happen without much planning, determination, dedication and the expertise of her club coaches Gervis and Keith.

John Murphy lit this flame and it has become a burning fire.

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New Director co-opted to the Board

The Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Arnold Morgan has been co-opted as a Director following a recent Board meeting. Arnold has been involved in table tennis for many years as both a player and volunteer. He is currently the Chair of the Ulster Branch having previously served as the Branch Secretary. He is a qualified Level 2 Coach, National Referee and International Umpire. He was Team Manager at the UK School Games, Sport Lead at the British Transplant Games and the World Police and Fire Games which has given him valuable experience at major multi sports events.

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Return to Play Update

In the absence of revised guidance or direction regarding resumption of indoor sports events, TTI competitive activity remains suspended and the National Championships, proposed for August, will not now take place before September.
The situation regarding the 2021/2022 Calendar will be kept under review, however, it is reasonable to assume that there is now a likelihood of a delayed start to the 2021/2022 season, and a consequent knock on effect on what/when tournaments will take place.  It is anticipated that some dates of events will now have to be amended, and some events may be cancelled.


On foot of revised guidance received this week from the Department of Sport and Sport Ireland, permissions remain in place for normal Club training in accordance with TTI protocols, however Summer Camp activity is not permitted under this revised guidance and Summer Camps should not go ahead.  This has impacted on the resumption of training for our National Junior Squad.


TTI have been actively representing our members at every opportunity, including at meetings and contacts with Sport Ireland, with the Department of Sport and the Minister, and with the Federation of Irish Sport, and have been forthright in advocating for the full return of our members and our activities, as in other sectors, and in a manner fully aligned with good practice as contained within our existing protocols.  Following various meetings involving National Governing Bodies of indoor sports, the Federation of Irish Sport and the indoor NGBs will next week be meeting again with representatives of Sport Ireland to explore options, and have separately agreed a more focused and proactive approach in the event that next weeks meeting does not satisfactorily progress matters.  In any case, and in the event that our other actions do not meet with more short term success, we are advised to prepare for an Autumn return of indoor sport.  We will be seeking greater clarity on the precise time frames involved in this advisory.


Behind the scenes, the work of the Association has never been busier, and we remain grateful to our staff and volunteers for all that they are doing during ever more challenging, vexatious, and stressful conditions.  We sympathise hugely with our members, and especially our junior players, who have had so much taken from them in terms of competition, practice, development and experiences, and hope that we may be moving towards, at least, the beginning of the end.

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Europeans Update

Junior Boys prepare for individual events as the team event in Croatia comes to an end.


The Irish Junior Boys team of Dillon Byrne, Owen Cathcart, Tom Colvin and James Skelton finished up in the team event at the European Championships following a final day win and loss in the playoffs.


Despite qualifying to the playoff round to go to the Last 16, where they lost out 0-3 to the hosts Croatia, the Irish team continued to struggle for consistency, letting a number of chances slip away as they went on to lose out 2-3 to Finland, Cathcart earning the wins for the team.  


In the teams strongest collective performance, Luxembourg were beaten 3-1, with Cathcart and Skelton combining to deliver the points, however the team dipped a little again against Greece, going down 0-3 despite two 5-setters that should have been put away for a 2-1 lead.  Overall the team finished in a creditable 27th place, seven places down on 2019, but with three of the team available for two more Championships, there is much to build on for 2022.


Singles and doubles competitions begin on 21st July.

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EYC Croatia Update

Ireland top their group in Varazdin, earning a playoff against Croatia to progress to the Last 16.

The 2021 European Youth Championships are taking place in Varazdin, Croatia, from 16 July-1 August, with an Irish team travelling outside the island for the first time in 17 months.


The Ireland Junior Boys Team of Dillon Byrne, Owen Cathcart, Tom Colvin and James Skelton are representing Ireland at the event.


Lithuania were first up on Day 1, and the lack of play and match practice over the last year showed for the Irish team, as they went down 2-3 to an efficient Lithuanian side with some awkward styles.  Owen Cathcart took the two rubbers for Ireland, which would prove crucial later on.


The evening match was against Latvia, who had earlier beaten Lithuania 3-1, which meant a win against Latvia would not be enough for Ireland to progress, it would have to be a 3-1 win or better.


A second tough team match in only a few hours could have gone either way, but with Cathcart anchoring the team again with a win in the first rubber, Tom Colvin chipped in with another win, leaving Cathcart to close out the match for a 3-1 victory, Ireland topping the group on countback.


The morning of Day 2 will see Ireland face a tough match against 5th Seed Croatia, with both teams then progressing to the evening matches, the winner entering the Top 16 Knockout, while the loser of the morning match enters playoffs for positions 17-30.

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TTI collaborate to deliver Summer Camp

As part of various ‘Return to Play’ initiatives, there will be a TTI Day/Residential Summer Camp taking place in Dublin from 2-6 August, led by the coach and playing team from Dublin TT.  This is a great opportunity for junior players to put some extra work into their game and get back ready for the upcoming National Championships and the full resumption of play.


The Summer Camp, taking place in Blackrock College, offers a ‘day’ option, which includes training, coaching and lunch each day, and a ‘residential’ option, which includes the training activity as well as all meals and accommodation, in addition to access to evening activity, a recreation room, or additional evening training.


Coaches and sparring partners at the Camp include qualified coaches, National Champions and Irish Internationals such as Conor Gallagher, Sasha Gillen, Gavin Maguire, Conor Mullally and Joey Nelson.


Cost for the day-training option is 180euro for the Week, while the residential option is 370euro for the week.

There is a special discount of 30euro for the first 20 TTI affiliates/members to book and pay in full for the Camp, which will reduce the cost to 150euro/340euro.


Book in confidence – in the event of any cancellation or disruption caused by COVID, monies will be refunded.

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Upcoming Umpires and Referees Seminar

Table Tennis Ireland wishes to advise you that an Umpires and Referees Seminar will be taking place on Monday the 5th July 2021 at 7.30pm via Zoom. 

TTI Umpires and Referees Association is hosting this seminar in order to update current match officials, tournament organisers, Provincial Chairs and anyone interested in this area of the sport on a number of matters.

There will also be an opportunity to discuss the recent review and related matters as well as the roles of umpire and referees.  Training and development for match officials is one area for discussion.  Plans are at an advanced stage in relation to training, but this always depends on enough volunteers stepping forward.

To register for this seminar please email [email protected] by Sunday the 4th of July at 5pm. You will receive the log in details by 1pm Monday the 5th of July.

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Report on 2021 ITTA CLG Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the Irish Table Tennis Association CLG took place by Zoom on last Saturday 12th June 2021 at 10.30am.  A good attendance of members attended online, in Irish Sport HQ, Dublin and by proxy.  

Mr. Joe Hickey, Board Chairman, chaired the meeting and welcomed the other directors, the Management Committee Chair, representatives of the four provinces, officers and members. Apologies were received from Life President, Joe Veselsky, Miss Anna Kelly, Mr. Tony Philips and Mr. Brian Finn. 

Before the meeting began the names of 6 members, who had died since the 2020 AGM were read by Director Kenneth Strong as follows: Ian Brown, Adam Buckley, Jim Sheehan, Patsy James, Wesley Pappin and Tommy Rowsome. A minute’s silence was observed in their memory. 

The Finance Director, Mrs. Pat Hunter, presented her Finance Director’s Report, Financial Statements & Auditor’s Report for the year ended 31st of December 2020.  She advised in her report that administration costs in the sport had decreased due to the lack of table tennis activity. The Association’s Reserves had increased with the additional monies planned for a participation and development programme in schools, clubs and leagues. Mrs. Hunter stated that the Association was well placed financially to grow the sport. 

Ms. Jennifer Monaghan, Company Secretary, referred to the increased focus in recent years on governance and compliance in accordance with the Governance Code for Sport.  The Association is aiming to be totally compliant before the end of 2021. The adoption of the code is a requirement to receive Sport Ireland funding from 2022 onwards.  

The Annual Report of the Board’s activities outlined the success in achieving increased funding from Sport Ireland through Dormant Account Funding (DAF), an Aspire Graduate and the recent re-instatement of Women in Sport funding. The outcome of two further DAF applications is awaited.  

Members were also advised that the affiliation year will in future be from 1st August until 31st July of the following year.   

Mr. Richard Butler, Chair of the Management Committee, presented an overview of the reports of each of the Managers within the Management Committee. This report covered the areas of Coaching, Communication, Paralympic, Participation and Performance. He also gave a brief update on the possible return of Events in the coming months.      

Election of Officers:  The following officers were elected or re-elected: 

  • Chairman:                  
    • Mr. Joe Hickey 
  • Finance Director:
    • Mrs. Pat Hunter  
  • Directors:                   
    • Mr. Rob Cowan
    • Mr. Kenneth Strong
    • Mrs. Ciara Joseph
  • Company Secretary: 
    • Ms. Jennifer Monaghan 

APPOINTMENTS: 

President:  Mr. Tony Martin re-elected for a further 2- year term.   

Vice Presidents:  Miss Anna Kelly, Mr. Pat O’Brien, Mr. Tony Phillips MBE, Mr. Ivan Shorten, Mr. Alan Strong MBE, Mr. Thomas Keenan. 

Disciplinary Committee: Miss Anna Kelly, Mr. Ken Nixon, Mr. Arnold Morgan & Ms. Louise O’Loughlin 

Jury of Appeal:  Mr. Keith McGarry, Mr. Chris Cowan & Ms. Triona Leahy 

It was reported that further volunteers were needed for the Disciplinary Committee and Jury of Appeal. Members were asked to email the General Manager with their nominations.  

NATIONAL AWARDS: 

Joe Veselsky Award:  This award for 2021 was presented to Mrs. Pat Hunter, a well-known and respected administrator and volunteer at many levels over the past 50 years. Pat is a former Chair of the Association and the current Finance Director. She is also a former Chair of the Ulster Branch and is currently Branch President. 

Pat Hunter with her Joe Veselsky Award 2021

The Joe Veselsky award for 2020 was not presented last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This was awarded to Mr. Brian Finn, Chair of the Irish Veterans Table Tennis Society and responsible for organising a very successful 6 Nations Veterans Championship in Ireland in 2013. Brian is a qualified umpire and an important volunteer in the sport generally. 

No playing awards were made due to no events having taken place during the last season with the exception of the National Championships because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Report on the 2021 ITTA CLG Extraordinary General Meeting (held after the AGM) 

An Extraordinary General Meeting took place following the AGM. 

Mr. Kenneth Strong occupied the Chair for this meeting.   

Ms. Jennifer Monaghan, Company Secretary advised that a review had been undertaken with a view of clarifying any areas of uncertainty in the ITTA CLG Constitution and Regulations. The revised documents, as circulated previously, were adopted unanimously. 

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Wildcard Players to be selected for upcoming Senior Mens Camps

As a new initiative this season, Irish Senior Mens Squad Camps will, where space allows, allocate a number of spaces to boys at Mini Cadet, Cadet, or Junior level, who will be invited to attend and take part in the sessions with the Mens Squad.

These places will not be allocated solely on ranking or ability, and and instead may be earned through performances and effort at tournaments, or at regional or national training camps, where the player(s) concerned have shown a positive attitude and good conduct, as well as a high work rate or superlative performance, and are capable of the effort expected in taking part in any National Squad session.

Players will normally be observed by selectors at competitive or training events, but can also be proposed by club coaches for consideration or observation.

Senior Mens NPC Richard Butler commented ‘this is a great way to expose different players, who may not all be used to what is involved, to the work rate and commitment expected at a Senior Mens session, the wildcards will have a chance to learn from, and get some training with, the best male players in Ireland’.

The first wildcards will be selected for the forthcoming Senior Mens Camp in mid June