Ireland’s youngest international representative squad have just returned from a spectacular performance and winning medal haul at the Primary Schools International in Largs, Scotland. Our stars for the future were in top form, taking 3 gold medals from the 4 on offer – a fantastic achievement for players and coaches alike.
In the Girls Team event, the pressure was on to retain the title won in 2011 – with three of the four players returning from last year’s squad. This experience stood to them as they cruised through the event, seeing off England, Scotland, Wales and Guernsey – with the distinction of winning every match by a 10-0 score line – a perfect record! The team of REBECCA FINN, KATE WHELAN, KERRY O’MAHONEY and MARIE WILLIAMS retained the title for Ireland under the expert eye of Coach Anne Ludlow.
The Boys Team, led by Shay Logue, had a tough act to follow. They began with 10-0 victories over both Wales and the Isle of Man, before a showdown with England. The Boys recovered from 4-1 down to claim a dramatic 5-5 draw, with James Kelly and Karl Walsh claiming tense 5-setters before Owen Cathcart won the final match in style to claim the draw. In the tournament decider against Scotland, Ireland knew that a victory would claim gold, having beaten Jersey and Guernsey earlier in the day. This match went right to the wire with play running until 10pm. Scotland took a 4-3 lead before James Kelly again showed steely resolve to claim a tough 5-setter, winning 11-8 in the final set. Again Walsh and Cathcart claimed late wins to claim a 6-4 victory over the hosts and win the title for Ireland. The team of EDDIE DITCHBURN, JAMES KELLY, KARL WALSH and OWEN CATHCART were delighted with their victory, leaving Ireland Champions of both Team Events at the Primary Schools International.
In the individual events, again gold was the objective. All 4 Irish girls progressed to the main draw quarter-finals – a fantastic achievement. Kate Whelan eliminated her team-mate Marie Williams at this stage, in a match that included a highly entertaining 23-21 final set. O’Mahoney lost out over 5 sets to eventual finalist Denise Payet. Rebecca Finn progressed with Whelan to the semi-finals. Whelan cruised to the final with a straight sets win over Kate Cheer, while Finn was eliminated by Payet. Whelan fell 2-1 down in the Final, but in keeping with the fighting spirit displayed by the Irish team all weekend fought back to claim the title on a score line of 3-2 and thus become the Primary Schools International Champion. In the Boy’s event, Karl Walsh was the outstanding Irish performer, claiming a bronze medal.
Congratulations to all players – a phenomenal achievement and well deserved. Thanks also to coaches Shay Logue and Anne Ludlow for working with the players over the weekend. Finally, we thank our excellent sponsors STIGA Ireland, who kitted out the team in the finest STIGA apparel, allowing them to look and feel good when represnting their country – thanks Tommy! Check out the full STIGA Range at http://www.tftt.ie/