The Irish Under 13 team have returned from a successful experience at the European Mini Championships in Strasbourg, France. The 6 selected Irish players of Matthew Mooney, Aedan McGivern, Daniel McFaul, Anjali Singh, Alice Looney & Grace Looney went to battle with their European counterparts over 3 days of competition. The format is one that provides several matches for the competitors with 4 stages of groups for the boys and 3 stages of groups for the girls before reaching the main draw and last 32 of the competition or being entered into the consolation event.
In the 2007 born boys event, Matthew Mooney had 1 win over Elis O’ Connor 3-0 and a 0-3 loss to a French player to come through in second place. Aedan McGivern was unable to bag a win against extremely tough opposition from Germany and Russia however, he did progress in his group of 3. In the second stage the boys found their opposition a little bit too strong and were both knocked out into the consolation event. From here the boys picked up a win each, and unfortunately a 3-2 loss each that had it been a win would have seen them into the last 32 of the consolation event. The boys both finished a respectable joint 81st in their first major international event.
In the 2008 boys event Daniel McFaul drawn against 2 French and one Romanian opponent was unable to get off the board and fell to 4th place, putting him directly into the consolation event. In the consolation, Daniel was involved in numerous close matches including a match in which he was 2-2 and 10-6 up but a fighting performance from his opponent meant it wasn’t to be. Daniel was able to pick himself up and close out the tournament with a very impressive 3-0 win over Spanish opposition. Daniel finished up in position 105 for the tournament.
In the 2007 girls, Anjali Singh led the line to finish second in her group after a tight loss to French opposition she managed to take down her Hungarian opponent 3-1 to finish second in the group. She was followed through by Alice Looney who finished 3rd in her group after two losses to French and Portuguese players she picked herself up and won a 3-2 battle over another French player. In the second stage Anjali again picked up a win and a loss to send her through to the 3rd and final group stage in the girls event. Alice Looney however, didn’t manage to pick up the all important win and fell into the consolation event. Anjali came into a group with eventual bronze medallist Bianca Mei-Rosu from Romania, and another tough Slovakian girl. A great performance and fight put up by Anjali was not enough on this occasion and she was downed 3-0 and 3-1 and moved on to the consolation event. In the consolation event both girls felt the effect of a long 2 days of play and were unable to come away with wins however, Anjali and Alice finished a very respectable 49th and 69th overall.
Finally, in 2008 girls Grace Looney finished in 2nd place in her first round group after a great win versus an Estonian player. Group stage too saw Grace take a an impressive 3-0 win over Chui-Que Wong from England and a close 3-1 loss to Lola Diuine of France. Progressing into stage 3 was unfortunately as far as it went for Grace Looney who was unable to get the win she needed to move into the Last 32 and main draw of the competition. Grace like Anjali, came in with an impressive top 50 finish at position 49.
Coach for the event Gavin Maguire commented that “The Euro Mini Championships was an extremely positive learning experience for our players. In tough conditions against very strong opposition, this young squad did their parents, clubs and provinces proud with an impressive amount of determination and fight put on show. This is exactly what we asked of them at the beginning of the week, and they were a pleasure to coach. I have no doubt if these players continue to work hard and up their training hours they will be able to mix it at European level even further in the coming months and years.”