Irish Stars Fend off English Raiders

The purse that was offered for the 2010 STIGA Munster Open this year attracted some English players to the tournament.  Former Irish international Jason Sugrue from the West London Academy brought some of his top players to the tournament. 

First Anglo-Irish battle was between Conor Nolan and Daniel Basterfield from the Academy in the last 16. Nolan lost the first narrowly before going 2 sets to 1 down.  Winning the 4th set with some ease the match set up for a grand finale, Nolan eventually winning out a closely contested match 11 9 in the 5th. 

The battle continued in Quarter Finals with Ulster’s Ashley Robinson pitted against former Irish Number 1 Jason Sugrue.  Sugrue won the first set easily 11:4 and the balance of the game may have been in the second set where Robinson narrowly lost out 12:10 and then went on to take the third set 11:4.  Sugrue proved just too strong for Robinson though, comprehensively taking the 4th and final set 11:2. Next into the fray against Sugrue was Eastpoint junior Sam Hanley. Hanley produced a stunning display of table tennis winning in straight sets with what can only be described as a flawless display of table tennis. The Final of the Men’s was a most sublime game of table tennis between Sam Hanley and Paul McCreery. Sam Hanley took the first two sets and went 10:8 up in the 3rd.  At this stage there looked no way back for Paul McCreery and it looked all over bar the shouting. McCreery’s coach Daryl Strong made the decision to use his time out and the 3rd game was turned around with McCreery taking it 12:10.  McCreery went on to take the 4th set and the game now hung in the balance.  This game had everything and some of the finest table tennis was on display for a very appreciative crowd.  Hanley was leading 10:6 in the 5th set before “Paul “Houdini” McCreery clawed his way back into the match and title of Munster Open Champion 2010. The final game was a classic, evenly matched all the way until it reached 10-9 in Hanley’s favour with McCreery serving to save the match. McCreery serves, Hanley hits a magnificent winner, the umpire Tom Mitchell calls game and match 11-9. Hanley turns to the umpire and says “the service was a net!” Score returns to 10-9, Paul wins the point to even up the match at 10 all, and then goes on to win 14-12. Congatulations to Paul on winning his first Senior Tounament, congratulations to both for a fantastic final and congratulations especially to Sam Hanley for a great act of sportsmanship.  

In the Junior Boys, McCreery was again in spectacular form, defeating Hanley in the semi-final before winning another 5-setter in the Final against ALSAA’s Sam Logue. In the Junior Girls, Sara Dolan claimed the title with a victory over Connacht’s Sara Timlin, after Ashley Givan lost to the Connacht player.

The Cadet boys was where the next defence of Irish table tennis standards was to take place.   Shi Zhao Li the Number 1 Seed from Leinster also had ideas of his own when it came to taking on the number 3 cadet in England, Igor Morais, in the Final, coming back from a 2 sets to one deficit to clinch victory 11 8 in the 5th and lift the cadet title for Leinster. Zhao Li’s sheer aggression and power play overcame the Morais’ wonderful backhand spin shots.

The Senior women’ s final pitted Ulster’s international, Ashley Givan against Sabina Devereux of Leinster. Devereux went ahead after the first game but the determined Givan levelled  proceedings before being forced to bring out her best in the subsequent third game. Givan had a tough time all the way until the score went up to 10-10. The Ulster player did not let the opportunity of lifting the title slip away when she won two points to end the game and giving her a one game advantage. Thereafter, Givan raced to a comfortable fourth game win to claim the title. Givan also doubled up by taking the Under 14 Girls final against Munster’s Edel O’Reilly.

In the Under 12 Girls, the up and coming McGlone sisters met in a thrilling Final, with Katie eventually beating Elayna over 5 sets. Jonathan Porter took the Under 12 title with victory over Ulster team-mate Eric Sheckleton.

The Munster Branch is very grateful to all the people who made the journey to Cork this year.  To all the coaches and players who conducted themselves fantastically well over the weekend.  Also to all the parents without whom many competitors would not have been able to get to the Munster Open.  The amount of volunteerism involved in our sport must be saluted specially for the long trek to Cork, many thanks to all. The Munster Branch really pulled together in support of Chairman, Anthony Redmond to make this tournament possible with most clubs in Munster played a part in the success it was.  JJ Buttimer and Paul O’Shea spent many long hours deliberating over the entrants long before the start of the tournament and did a fantastic job on the day.  A special thanks has to go out to the support received from Ballincollig TT club as without them the tournament would not have been as good as it was.