As the domestic season came to a close with the Senior and Junior Interprovincials, many players will have put their bat away and turned thoughts to a break away after a demanding season. For Ireland’s elite players however, the demands of the 12 month season could not be more apparent as we move towards a busy Summer for the international squads.
As of today, 3 Irish High Performance squads are abroad representing their country, while at home Junior and Cadet players will have their sights set on a possible call up to the European Youths in Turkey in late July.
Starting at the youngest age group, cadets Ryan McConkey and Katie McGlone have had a fantastic week training with some of Europe’s top young talents and under the guidance of leading European coaches, which will surely reap massive benefits for their game. They were fortunate enough to be selected for the ETTU’s ‘Eurokids’ programme, which was held in Italy this week. Following 2 days of intense training, both players played the Eurokids tournament today. McGlone had some good wins, with a particularly good win over the intriguingly named Liz Lethal of Luxembourg. Her group was particularly challenging and she was unfortunate not to progress after a count back. McConkey was also eliminated at the group stage, but also had a good win against Malta’s Dylan Zammit. Both players enter the 13+ play-offs; however the results at this level are not so important – it is the experience of playing in Europe under the tutelage of some of the game’s finest tactical and technical brains that will be of most benefit. Coach Louise Long has also been working with the top coaches at Lingano and is sure to have developed as a coach from the experience
Moving from Italy to Belgium, six players from Ireland are currently en route to play in the 3 day International Youth Cup in Belgium. This 3 day team and individual event sees teams from all across Europe travel to Hasselt TTC and it is sure to be a fantastic experience for these top young players. Best wishes to all, particularly those making their first appearance representing their country. Top cadet and National Cadet Champion Ryan Farrell will look to make an impression on his first foray to a competition of this nature, while Alan Walsh will be making his international debut – a proud moment for the player, his parents and Ballincollig TTC.
Full Hasselt Squad
Ryan Farrell, Kevin Hutchinson, Neil Irwin, Jonathan Porter, Eric Sheckleton, Alan Walsh.
Finally, at the very elite of the game, the entire Irish table tennis community will be hoping for a positive Irish performance at the World Team Championships in Russia. National Senior Champion John Murphy has been in camp in Sweden for 2 weeks training for this event, and he will be joined by 17 year old Paul McCreery, who has soared up both the National (finishing the season as No.1 in Ireland) and World (up to 760 in the World, a jump of 250 places in just 12 months) Ranking over the past season. The squad is completed by the experienced Daryl Strong of Ulster and Keith Knox, who has made a remarkable comeback from injury over the past year, recording an impressive semi-final performance at the Butterfly National Seniors.
First up on 23rd May is top seed Indonesia, with the last match in their group on May 26th also a tough one with Ju Lin’s Dominican Republic team sure to present a stern test of Ireland’s promotion prospects. In between, Ireland, coached by Peter Nilsson, face Moldova, Ecuador and Algeria.
So for our top players, there is no let-up as the demands on the international player continues to grow. ITTAWeb wishes all of the players representing their country over the next week the very best of luck.