On Saturday the 2nd of October players arrived at Fivemiletown High School to play in the annual Northern Bank Fermanagh Junior Open. This year entries travelled from Belfast, Dublin, Monaghan and a large number of entries from Mayo and Cavan. The standard was very high for a junior tournament and the day ran very smoothly under the watchful eye of Tournament Referee Tom Mitchell and the Fermanagh Table Tennis Association Organising committee.
The Under 10 event was played in a classification style. This meant no player was eliminated and they all played in three stages of round robin. The final group battled it out for the main event prize. In the Under 10 boys Eddie Ditchburn (Mayo) came out on top after defeating Ethan Duffy (Fivemiletown Academy) and James McGrath (Belfast), who came 2nd and 3rd respectively. In the under 10 girls Leah Shekleton (Castlerahan) came out on top with Marie Williams (Mayo) and Lydia McConkey (Fivemiletown Academy) coming 2nd and 3rd respectively.
In the Under 12 Girls they also played a classification style group and the 2nd round group played for the title. Leah Shekleton completed a remarkable double when she claimed the title with a thrilling win over Rebecca Finn (Glenburn). The two girls played an extremely high standard and top spin rallies brought the match to the wire were Leah beat Rebecca in the 4th set. Orla Timlin (Mayo) finished 3rd and Marie Williams (Mayo) finished 4th.
The Under 12 Boys also saw some thrilling matches at a very high standard. The first semi-final saw Ryan McConkey (Fivemiletown Academy) battle hard with Zac Wilson (Glenburn). Zac took the first game 11-4 but Ryan reversed the next set 11-4, Zac took the lead again winning the 3rd 14-12. The fourth set was nailing bitingly close but Ryan took it to the 5th winning 12-10. Ryan stepped up a gear and his fast serves did enough to claim the 5th 11-5. In the other semi-final Mayo battled it out in the form of Brian Dunleavy and Eddie Ditchburn, on this occasion Brian had too much on Eddie as he narrowly won 11-5, 13-11, 12-10. In the final Brian took the game to the top seed and won the first set 11-8. Ryan took the second 11-6, and in the 3rd set Brian and Ryan were neck and neck with Ryan claiming the game 12-10 in a set which had the crowd on the edge of there seats. In the fourth set Ryan was determined to close the door and raced to an early lead, Brian couldn’t find a way back and Ryan claimed the title 11-4 in the 4th set.
In the Under 14 girls the crowd contemplated the semi-final draw and some wondered of a McGlone sister final or an Ulster final or would it be an Ulster girl versus a McGlone, nobody knew, but the only thing that was certain was the girls would provide quality matches. In the first semi-final Katie McGlone (Leinster) played Laura Finn (Glenburn). Laura took the first 11-9 but Katie replied with two 11-8 wins on the trot. Katie pushed hard in the fourth and took it 11-6. The other semi-final saw Elayna McGlone (Leinster) play Hannah Dawson (Fivemiletown Academy), Hannah showed some excellent qualities and took the semi 11-8, 11-3, 12-10. The final saw Hannah continue her good form and she took the final against Katie without dropping a set in the entire competition as she won 11-7, 11-8, 11-4.
The Under 14 Boys semi-finals consisted of 3 local Fivemiletown Academy players and Ciaran Kelly from Leinster. First Jonathan Porter played Dylan Scott, the Academy club mates took to the stage and it was Jonathan who was first off the mark as he claimed the first set 11-7. Dylan really put the second game to Jonathan and was determined not to let Jonathan get too far ahead. Dylan took the game to deuce but lost the game 14-12 Jonathan took the third 11-8 to stamp out Dylan’s attempted comeback. In the other semi-final, Ryan McConkey played Ciaran Kelly. Ciaran was playing in his first tournament of the season after an injury resulted in him missing the Classification. It was Ciaran who took the first set 11-4, Ryan like Dylan in the previous semi-final was determined not to go down without a fight and battled hard to bring the game to Ciaran again the second set was brought to a deuce but Ciaran narrowly took the game 13-11, Ciaran confident from his win went on to close out the game in the 3rd set. A thrilling final was on the cards and the boys didn’t disappoint. Fast topspin rallies were the name of the game and in a gripping first set it was Ciaran who took the lead with a 12-10 win. Jonathan fought back to level it up in another nail biting game and took it 11-9. Jonathan stepped up a gear in the 3rd set and took it 11-3. More fast topspin rallies had the crowd on the edge of their seats as Jonathan claimed the title 11-6 in the fourth set.
The Under 17 Girls saw some of the top seeds crash out in the early rounds in what was always going to be an unpredictable event. The quarters saw Hannah Dawson (Fivemiletown Academy) play Elayna McGlone (Leinster) a repeat of the under 12 semi-final and again it was Hannah who came out on top. Annalise Walker (Fivemiletown Academy) claimed a win against Cherith McBride (Belfast) in her quarter-final to leave the two Fivemiletown Academy players to battle it out in the first semi-final. Annalise took it in three sets, 11-2, 11-6, 11-7 her experience proved too much against the under 14 champion. On the other side of the draw Sarah Timlin was set for Katie McGlone the youngster from Leinster who is still eligible to play in the under 10 event and was by no means an easy opponent as her semi-finalist spot proved. The youngster pushed Timlin in the match with Timlin narrowly winning 15-13, 12-10, 11-9. This youngster is defiantly one for the future. Sarah Timlin who comes from Mayo is part of the Fivemiletown Academy squad and Arthur Brett sat back as his two players battled for the Junior Girls Title. Sarah had too much for Annalise and took the final and title in 3 straight sets 11-6, 11-7, 12-10.
Many people wouldn’t look past local player Neil Irwin (Fivemiletown Academy) to claim the under 17 Boys title. With some thrilling matches the competition was very intense. The groups saw 4th seed Ciaran Kelly (Leinster) come second in his group when Stephen Fawcett (Newbliss) caused a major upset of the day. This meant Ciaran played Darren Reilly (Castlerahan) in the second round, it was one of the best matches of the day, which Darren claimed 11-5 in the fifth set. Darren then had to play Trevor Knox (Fivemiletown Academy) in the quarter-finals and this too turned out to be a classic, with an epic 3rd set which Darren won 17-15 in an end to end thrilling set, Trevor did however regroup and won the match 3-1. The semi-finals saw Neil Irwin play Jonathan Porter but Neil had too much and claimed the game 3-0. However the other semi-final would not be so simple! Kieran Reilly (Castlerahan) was to play Trevor Knox and this really was nothing short of a crowd pleaser. Trevor took the first 11-9, but Kieran pushed hard to take the next two 11-7 and 11-6. Trevor came back to the table and fought hard to bring the game to the fifth winning the fourth 11-7. The last game saw Kieran play better as he moved up a gear as he claimed the fifth set and his place in the final. In the final Neil was not planning on letting Kieran have a chance to use his fighting spirit to come back into the game and Neil was efficient about closing out and finishing the match and he took the title 11-6, 11-5, 11-4.
Fermanagh Table Tennis Association would like to take this opportunity to thank all the participants and spectators who came on the day. Also to our Tournament Referee Tom Mitchell for his assistance and all the players and parents who counted on the day. Finally we would like to express our extreme gratitude to our main sponsors the Northern Bank without their support the tournament would not have been possible, also to Tommy Fitzgerald whose continuous support to FTTA is extremely appreciated. We hope all enjoyed the day and we look forward to seeing everyone and more at next year’s event.