(L-R) Gav Reilly, Chris Harrison, Gav Maguire, Rory Coffey(C), Sean O’Gorman, Jack Stapleton, Simon Hickey. Photography by Kim Sin Yap
The Intervarsity Championships took place on 25/26 February in the fine surroundings of UCC’s Mardyke Arena, with some familiar names emerging victorious, although not without some very tight matches that could have gone either way.
This was the first Intervarsity Championships since the death in November 2011 of Judge Hubert Wine, former Irish international, who purchased and donated the trophy for the Men’s Team Champions that bears his name. The Men’s Team Championship final for the Hubert Wine Cup, first played for in 1949, saw a familiar face off between 12 time defending champions UCD and their opponents of 2011 and 2010, CIT. UCD had come through to the final with wins over DIT and Queens, followed by a semi final match-up against a strong UCC team. Meanwhile, CIT had accounted for UCC, Griffith and Trinity followed by victory against Queens in the semi finals. Both teams were missing some key players, and it was CIT who got off to the better start, at one stage leading 3-2, and with UCD trailing 0-2 in sets in the 2 matches on the table it looked like an upset was on the cards. These matches ebbed and flowed, and it was clear that the title would be decided in how these matches went. UCD pegged both rubbers back to 2-2, and in critical exchanges, especially between the respective #1 players, Gavin Maguire (UCD) and Ian Brown (CIT), with Brown especially playing some outstanding table tennis, both points fell to UCD, and as the singles matches finished it was UCD who held the advantage at 7-5 going into the 3 doubles. All 3 doubles went to the Belfield side, and it was UCD who took the title 10-5, Irish Champions for the 13th year in a row.
The Men’s Team Plate was a tight match between Griffith College and DIT, both competing at their first Varsities, and it was Griffith who took bragging rights, taking the Men’s Team Plate 8-6.
The Ladies team event was an edgy affair. UCC held the initial advantage with a 3-0 lead, due to a late withdrawal leaving UCD one lady short. This was retrieved quickly by UCD, with the first 3 singles going to UCD, and tying the score at 3-3. UCD took a 2-1 advantage in the next round of singles, and lead the match 5-4, but UCC were not to be outdone and came back strong to claim the doubles match and set up a deciding doubles rubber. The match went all the way to a 5th set, where UCD just edged out a small advantage at 8-8 in the 5th, taking the 2 points for a 10-8 lead and, making no mistake on their first Championship point, took the tie 3-2 and the overall match 6-5, winning the Irish ladies title for the 4th year in a row.
In the Men’s singles event, the ties went largely as seeded, with #1 seed Maguire facing James Herley (CIT) in the first semi final, while #2 seed Brown faced UCD #2 Jack Stapleton. 3-0 score lines in both matches gave us a 1v2 Championship Final, with Maguire in no mood to have a repeat of the previous days close team match, running out a 3-0 winner, and taking the title for the 3rd year in a row.
The Ladies singles, a large round robin, also largely followed form, as other results made it a straight shootout between UCD #1 Sarah Timlin and Huizhuang Xie, UCC #1. A tight match, as it was in the team event the previous day, with both players competing in their first Intervarsities, saw Timlin take the match 3-1 winning the ladies singles title, Xie in 2nd place, and Laura Sebille (UCC) and Emma Jane Helen (UCD) taking 3rd & 4th.
Thanks go to Joe Kelleher, UCC Club Captain, and his Committee, as well as the staff of the Mardyke Arena, for organising and hosting the event.