Munster Open: Report & Results

After a very successful event in 2015, the Munster Open returned to the Neptune Arena on the north side of Cork City. With numbers down in most events this year, the hall may not have been packed, but it was still full of excitement over the three days with 19 titles to be decided, including for the first time in many years a Learning Disability event which attracted over a dozen entrants, further broadening the scope of the event.

Despite the icy roads, play started bang on time on Friday evening, with the preliminary stages of the Senior Singles and Doubles. There were few surprises in the Group stages of the Men’s events, just Art McLoughlin topping his group from outside the seeded positions – a sign of a great weekend ahead for one of Irish table tennis’s soaring talents. Indeed, by the end of Friday’s play, seven of the top eight seeds filled the quarter final positions, just Conor Mullally making it through from the lower seeds, beating Colm Murphy who had a great win over number 7 seed Dylan Grace in his last-32 clash. The ladies’ group stage was a bit less predictable, with “accidental” doubles partners Susan Hanlon and Sabina Devereux topping their groups as well as Kerry O’Mahoney, who proved to be one of Munster’s most consistent players over the weekend. But once the seeded players joined in the knockout stage, all advanced unscathed to the semi-finals.

The entry for the Doubles events was small, and it did not take too long to whittle down the Men’s competition to the top seeds Maguire and Robinson against local favourites Walsh and Grace, who would have their work cut out on Saturday night! There was Munster interest in the Ladies’ Doubles too, could Wawrzniak and O’Rahilly-Egan overcome the more experienced partnership of Devereux and Hanlon?

In response to requests from players/parents travelling in the morning, and in the face of dire weather forecasts, it was decided to delay the start of play on both Saturday and Sunday in the interest of safety. In the event, the roads were not bad, and no-one was unable to travel on either day. Unfortunately, the late start on Sunday contributed to an even later start of the Under-21 competition.

First up on Saturday morning were the Cadets, Art McLaughlin dropped only a couple of sets on his way to a great title. His club-mate from Griffeen, Mia O’Rahilly-Egan was similarly dominant in the Girls’ to take her first trophy of the weekend. But she was far from finished…!

The Mixed Doubles was run off quickly during the late morning, a warm-up for Gavin Maguire and Charlotte Carey before the serious business of the evening, straight sets against Alan Walsh and Erin Thompson in the first final of the day.

The Under-11 “Hopes” events are always noisy and frantic, but great fun for all and with an huge entry of 37 for the Boys’ event (including two players with the same name, to the make it difficult for the organisers!) almost half of the stadium was taken over for the competition. There were just seven players playing in the Girls’ Round Robin, Sadbh being the second McLaughlin to win a Munster title today, albeit by a narrow margin! In the Boys’ contest, Luke Murdoch emerged on top after almost 140 matches!

Philip Shaw, Munster’s favourite veteran, defeated Brian Devereux in the final, a match that reversed the result of their meeting in the group stages. What a  great campaigner!

The Class 2 restricted singles event is always highly contested, and this year was no different. Despite entries from all over the country, seven of the eight quarter finalists were Munster-based, the pick of the matches possibly Matt Haynes’ five-setter against Declan O’Brien, who was coming close to his mercurial best. Matt went on to beat Ian Brown 3-1 in the decider.

The Senior Men’s quarter finals were played simultaneously before the main finals. A battle of the Gavins was always a likely final, and so it proved to be. Both were semi-finalists here last year. Rumgay dropped just one set to Ashley Robinson on his way to the final, Maguire similarly had a comfortable progression. In the final, things looked to be going Gavin Maguire’s way, 2-0 up to the delight of the partisan support, but Gavin Rumgay, always a tenacious competitor, pulled one back before he was forced to withdraw through injury, handing the Men’s Singles title to Gavin Maguire – semi-finalist in 2015 and finalist in 2014!

In the Ladies’ event, Katie McGlone had to work very hard to overcome Ashley Givan, Charlotte Carey was more comfortable against Rebecca Finn. Carey was too good for McGlone in the final, 3-0, to take her third consecutive Munster Open singles title.

Maguire had more silverware by the end of the evening, Gavin partnering Ashley Robinson to win the doubles against training partners Alan Walsh and Dylan Grace. On the adjacent table, it was a triumph of youth over experience as the Dublin partnership of Sabina Devereux and Susan Hanlon succumbed to Zofia Wawrzniak and Mia O’Rahilly-Egan (collecting title number two).

Con O’Ceadaigh selected Under-13 player Ciarán O’Donoghue to be the recipient of a special Umpiring Award.

Sunday started with the Junior Boys’ and Girls’ events. In the Boys’, most groups went with their seedings, and by the end of the second round groups, all top eight seeds were in the quarter-finals. Charlie Fitzgerald had a great win against No. 2 seed James Kelly in the quarters, and he continued his great run of form with wins over Conor Gallagher and favourite Dylan Grace to take the Junior Boys’ title. Darragh Egan won the Band 1 event and Conor O’Callaghan the Plate.

There were upsets aplenty in the Junior Girls’, with Kerry O’Mahoney having a great win against Rebecca Finn in the first quarter final. She came up against the unstoppable Mia O’Rahilly-Egan in the net round, and had to settle for an excellent third place. In the other half of the draw, Chloe O’Halloran came out on top of a very tight game against Katie McGlone, but was no match for Mia who was heading for the Munster Open record books.

There was a healthy entry in the Under-13 Boys’. This time Art McLaughlin had to settle for the runner-up spot, losing out in the last set to fierce rival Thomas Joyce. Art had barely recovered from an even closer match against his club-mate Dillon Byrne, Thomas had a smoother route to the final. Isaac Leahy topped the Band 1 in this event, and Liam Leisk from Leeside took the Plate prize. Silke Heinen and Sophie Earley were seeded to meet in the Girls’ final, and neither dropped a single set on their way there. In the final it was a diffrent matter, Silke took a two set lead and there were hopes for a “home” win, but Sophie steadied the ship and took the remaining three. 

Mia wasn’t finished yet. By now they were all lining up to take shots at her! The top half of the Ladies’ Under-21 draw lost Chloe O’Halloran to late withdrawal, Mair Kelly had a good run with a very close match against Claire Heller followed by an even tighter encounter against Kerry O’Mahoney – Kerry edged ahead in the final 34-point set to earn another encounter with Mia. In the bottom half, Emma McSorley came as close as anyone to Mia all weekend, but in the end there was only going to be one champion, well done Mia on her fourth title! Cadet, Junior, Ladies’ Doubles and Under-21 champion!

The Men’s Under-21 event had plenty of excitement, Shane O’Connor’s five-set win against Andrew Campbell was followed by another five-setter in the semi-final, this time he was on the losing side to Conor Mullally. Brian Dunleavy defeated Conor in the last match of the Munster Open 2016.

Conor O’Callaghan and Paddy Vaughan have been fierce rivals in the past, and their match in the round robin Standing Disability event was the decider, Paddy taking home the title again this year. In the Intellectually Impaired event, Liam Hayes from West Cork was unbeatable and defeated Ben Óg Brady-Bates in the final. You can see some photos from the event here.

Our thanks to the staff of the Neptune Stadium, in particular Paul and Mark who were on hand for the entire weekend. A huge thanks to Tournament Referee Con O’Céadaigh, and veteran umpire Joe Finnegan (sorry about all the steps up to the top table, Joe!). Also thanks to all who helped in set-up and take-down, as well as top table (a huge contingent from Ballincollig Table Tennis Club!). We are grateful to Paul O’Shea of M.D. O’Shea who sponsored the Junior events, always a huge supported of the Munster Open in Cork and Killarney.

Click below to see pictures of the prize-winners on the Munster site, and a slide show of some of the other players.

We look forward to welcoming you all back for next year’s event.

Munster Open 2016 – Full Results here

Men’s Singles: 1. G Maguire; 2. G Rumgay (Sco); 3. R Farrell & A Robinson.
Women’s Singles: 1. C Carey (Wal); 2. K McGlone; 3. R Finn & A Givan.
Men’s Doubles: 1. Maguire/Robinson; 2. Walsh/Grace; 3. Farrell/O’Brien & McLaughlin/Byrne
Women’s Doubles: 1. O’Rahilly Egan/Wawrzyniak ; 2. Devereux/Hanlon ; 3. Thompson/McSorley & Cashman/Heinen.
Mixed Doubles: 1. Maguire/Carey ; 2. Walsh/Thompson ; 3. Buckley/O’Halloran & Devereux/Devereux.

U21 Men: 1. B Dunleavy ; 2. C Mullally.
U21 Women: 1. M O’Rahilly Egan; 2. K O’Mahony. 
Class II: 1. M Haynes; 2. I Browne : 3. D O’Brien & M White.
Veterans: 1. P Shaw ; 2. B Devereux ; 3. D Butler & M Ussher.
Junior Boys: 1. C Fitzgerald ; 2. D Grace ; 3. B Dunleavy ; 4. C Gallagher.
Junior Girls : 1. M O’Rahilly Egan ; 2. C O’Halloran ; 3. K O’Mahony; 4. K McGlone.
Cadet Boys: 1. A McLaughlin ; 2. A Pattison ; 3. A Ahl & T Joyce.
Cadet Girls : 1. M O’Rahilly Egan ; 2. Z Wawrzyniak; 3. N Barry & T Cashman.
U 13 Boys: 1. T Joyce ; 2. A McLaughlin ; 3. D Byrne; 4. T Nguyen.
U 13 Girls : 1. S Early ; 2. S Heinen ; 3. P Ragi; 4. T Cashman. 
Disabilty S 1. P Vaughan ; 2. C O’Callaghan;
Disability LD 1. L Hayes; 2. B Brady-Bates.