It was home advantage for UCD as the ‘Collidge’ took all 4 titles on offer at the Irish Universities Table Tennis Championships in Belfield.
As expected, UCD Ladies were unopposed in their title bid, taking the Cup again that they held from 2009-2013. UCD were spearheaded by Ladies Captain Sarah Timlin, currently based in the UK, and fresh from the British Universities Championships.
UCD Men were the red hot favourites to take a 17th consecutive team title, but this would have been an underestimation of a strong challenge from UCC, beaten finalists in 2013 and 2014. As expected, it was a UCD and UCC face off in the final, following Semi Final wins against, respectively, Trinity and RCSI. There was quality in depth in both finalists, with UCC enjoying the services of 4 former Internationals and Interprovincials, and with defending Singles Champion Declan O’Brien at #1 for the Cork outfit, backed up by Colm Murphy at #2, and with quality down the playing order, this was a strong UCC team. UCD meanwhile had a young team, with half of the lineup in 1st Year, including #1 Tom Davis, but with a team lineup that included 7 former Internationals and Interprovincials, drawn from 3 provinces, UCD had real strength in depth. A close run match resulted in an 8-3 result in favour of UCD, a scoreline which belies the many tight matches that were battled out over the course of a long final.
Finishing out the day, NUIG battled to a team plate win, with a comfortable victory over IT Tallaght in the final.
On Singles day, Sarah Timlin was the top seed and strong favourite for a Universities singles title, and so it proved, taking home the Ladies Individual title, with her 4th win in this event. Timlin beat UCD #2 Meadhbh Slattery 3-0 in the Final, after the two finalists came past, respectively, Lynne O’Shea (UCD) and Renuka Sitram (RCSI) at the Semi Final stage.
RCSI also took the Ladies Singles Plate, Colleen Wong seeing off Ciara Doran of UCD, while the Mens Singles Plate Final saw one of the most exciting matches of the day, as Guillaume Berton of NUIG squeezed past Ashley Chiu of RCSI in a long 5 setter.
In the Mens Individual Championships, two time Champion Declan O’Brien, unbeaten in the team event, was the favourite to add a 3rd title to the collection, but in truth there was danger throughout the singles draw, with many players, including Murphy, Buckley & Kelleher of UCC, and Davis, Foster, Dempsey, Finlay and Reilly of UCD, all well used to operating at the business end of tournaments. As expected, it was a UCD and UCC shutout from quarter finals onwards, and, despite a close encounter between Dempsey & Murphy, it was the top 4 seeds that came through to the semi-finals; O’Brien then seeing off Foster in a tight match, while Davis came through the all UCD semi-final in the bottom half of the draw. O’Brien had already beaten Davis in the team event, however the UCD 1st Year had other plans this time, and came out strongly against Munsters top player, proving to have enough in the tank to end O’Briens quest for a 3rd consecutive title, and take the Singles title, and so complete the notoriously difficult Varsity clean sweep for UCD, for the first time since 2012, and for only the 4th time by any University in the last 30 years.