Mooney claims gold at Primary Schools Internationals!

Successful weekend for Table Tennis Ireland as they travelled to the International Primary Schools event in Largs, Scotland. The weekend brought much success with both our teams getting silver in the team event, Rachel Taylor finished with silver in the girls singles and Jonathan Mooney returned home the hero winning the boys singles event! 
The Irish team comprised of four girls (Rachel Taylor, Ruta Miliute, Emily Flynn & Lela Lecap) with NPC Erin Thompson and four boys (Jonathan Mooney, Matthew Mooney, Tom Irwin & Sean Loughnane) with NPC Gervis Knox. 
Team Event 
The Irish boys started their campaign on the Friday night with a tough opening match against the favourites England. The boy’s team showed they were capable of doing some damage in this match but unfortunately this time the score did not reflect it with a 9-1 loss with Jonathan Mooney picking up a nice win against their No.2 being 10-8 down in the fifth set! Saturday morning started well for the boys as they beat Isle of Man 10-0 and Wales 8-2. The big game before lunch came against Scotland who had beat Wales 10-0. A good performance from the boys secured a 7-3 win with Jonathan again winning his two singles against their number 1 &2 player. The final game of the day came against Guernsey and the boys put in a clinical performance to win 10-0 and secure the silver medal! 
The girl’s team started similarly to the boys as they faced a strong all-around English girls team. After some very good performances from the girls, they lost 9-1 with Lela picking up the girls only win. After a tough Friday night, Saturday morning brought great success as the girls beat Wales 9-1 and again like the boys faced a strong challenge from Scotland. Super performances from the girls left the game level at 4-4 with only two singles remaining. Erin rallying the girls moral got them motivated for the final singles, Emily Flynn won her game 3-1 and Lela got them over the finishing line winning in the 5th set!! The girls finished their team campaign with a strong win against Guernsey and secured silver for Ireland! 
Boys Singles 
For a relatively inexperienced Irish boys team the goal for Sean and Matthew was to get out of the groups and they both did this in style beating good opposition from Wales, Scotland and Isle of Man. Jonathan and Tom with more international experience, and seeded No.1 & 3, came through their groups winning good matches against Scotland, Wales and Guernsey. In the KO stages, all four boys played with great passion, hunger and fight but this wasn’t enough as we lost Tom Irwin to English No.4 Joesph Dennison 3-2 and also Sean Loughnane went down to Louis Loi (Scotland) 3-1. Matthew Mooney pulled off a massive shock in the Last 16 as he beat the Scottish No.2 Haydn Jackson in the fifth set winning 11-6! Brother Jonathan also cruised through his last 16 beating Charlie McGowan 3-0. Unfortunately for the Mooney brothers, they both met in the quarter-final stages and on this occasion older and more experienced brother Jonathan took the honours winning 3-0. Jonathan progressing to the semi-final stages met Jakub Piwowar (England) whom he narrowly beat 3-2 in the team event (saving match points). This time Jonathan was keen to up his game and put in a superb performance winning many huge top-top rallies away from the table taking the game 3-0 (3, 1 & 7). A revenge match was set up for Jonathan as he faced English No.1 Oliver Murray who beat him on the Friday night 3-1 in the team event. Again Jonathan was determined to change this scoreline and started well winning the first game 12-10 but then felt the pressure for the next two sets and lost 11-6 in both. Now at 2-1 down and 4-0 the coach Gervis called a needed time out and Jonathan still composed set out to get back in the game. Finding some rhythm and confidence he was able to win the fourth set 11-8 and now confidence back up started well in the fifth leading 7-3. However Oliver wasn’t finished there as he made his way back to 7-7… with a lot of experience in Europe Jonathan stayed composed and closed the game out in style winning 11-7, taking the Primary School Boys singles title! Massive achievement for the Ormeau player as he joins teammates Sophie and Owen winning this prestigious event! Jonathan only becomes the 5th Irish player to win the trophy! 
Girls Singles 
In the main event Emily and Ruta both came up against very strong opposition from Scotland and England respectively, in the last 16. Both girls fought hard in very tight matches but unfortunately Emily went down 1-3 and Lela 2-3 and 9–11 in the fifth. This left only Rachel in the main draw, who came through her quarterfinal match with ease against Bethany Ellis England, booking her place in the semis against the hotly tipped English No.1 seeded player Sophie Barcsai. Having previously lost to Sophie in the team event, Rachel kept her cool and produced a calm and focused display to book her place in the final with a score line of 3-1. This win for many in the hall was the shock of the tournament. In the final Rachel faced the Welsh No.1 Ruby Elliott and It was an eventful match with a medical timeout being called after her Welsh opponent suffered a nosebleed at 1-1! When play resumed the Welsh player came out firing and took the match 3-1. But nonetheless, this is still a great achievement for Rachel – who showed her class throughout the rounds taking out 3 of the 4 English players who won the team event with ease in the days before.
Overall an excellent weekend for both Irish Teams showing that Ireland is competing above their weight as always at the International Primary School Championships. Big thank you to our Irish Coaches, Players and Parents for an exciting and eventful weekend in Largs, Scotland!