Report on the Joola Irish National Championships 2020

Men’s Senior National Champion Ashley Robinson with the Eddie Limberg Cup

It was a National Championships held in disrupted circumstances, deferred from April, and partly postponed from the previous week, as sport worked around ongoing governmental COVID restrictions.  Despite this, almost all of our top ranked players were in attendance, and the Championships went ahead with solid support from around the country.

Ashley Robinson proved that experience is hard to beat, as he returned from Australia to secure the National Mens Singles title that had eluded him until now.  Robinson didn’t have it all his own way, as this seasons Ulster Open Champion, Ryan Farrell, put forward typically gritty opposition in the final, Robinson taking the title 3-1 (8,-9,6,9), while the eventual Champions toughest match came at the semi-final stage against Art McLaughlin, winner of the Mens titles at this seasons Connacht and Munster Opens, Robinson coming through 3-2 (6,8,-10,-4,3).  Earlier, Robinson enjoyed an untroubled QF match against Sam Logue, 3-0 (1,5,3), while McLaughlin also came through 3-0 in his QF against Jonny Mooney 3-0 (11,9,7).  Farrell had to dig very deep to come back against Daryl Strong in the last 16, trailing 0-2 before taking the match 3-2, a little more comfortable in the QF against James Skelton 3-1, but again in the semi-finals had to battle hard against a consistent Thomas Earley, taking the match 3-2 after again trailing 0-2 (-9,-15,2,7,7); while Earley had previously come through his quarter-final 3-0 against a resurgent Tom Davis.

The Ladies National final saw the latest instalment in the long list of head to head final clashes between the top two female players in Ireland.  It was a repeat of the 2019 final, as top seed Sophie Earley retained her Ladies Singles title, with straightforward wins in the quarters and semis against Lucy McIvor (3-0) and Erin Thompson (3-0) respectively, and with a tighter match in the final against old rival and 2018 Champion Mia O’Rahilly Egan, Earley coming through 3-0 (5,10,11).  Earlier, O’Rahilly Egan had come past Anjali Singh 3-1 in the quarter final and Claire Heller 3-0 in the semi-final.  In the remaining quarter-finals, Thompson had defeated 3rd Seed Sabina Devereux 3-0, while Heller also came through 3-0, against Anna Kelly.

Day 2 saw the Junior and Mini Cadet events take centre stage, with Art McLaughlin picking up where he had left off in the Mens Singles on Day 1, appearing in a 3rd consecutive Junior Boys National final, and on this occasion laying waste to the rest of the Junior Boys field, defeating Jonny Mooney 3-0 at semi-final stage and Tom Colvin 3-0 in the final.  Earlier, Colvin had beaten Dillon Byrne in the other semi-final.  In the Junior Girls, Mia O’Rahilly Egan, appearing in a 5th consecutive Junior Girls National final two, took her 3rd title with a dominant performance in the Junior Girls round robin, winning all her matches, with Anna Kelly squeezing through to take the silver medal.

The Mini Cadet events finished off Day 2, with Anjali Singh fulfilling her top seed position in Mini Cadet Girls with an unbeaten performance in the round robin, Niamh Mason taking the silver medal with her only loss coming against the eventual Champion.  The Mini Cadet boys saw some of the performances of the entire Championships, with very little separating many of the seeds, however it was the top two seeds that unsurprisingly came through to contest the final, Matthew Mooney fulfilling his seeding to take the title 3-1 ahead of Senan Sheridan.  Earlier, in the semi-finals, Sheridan had come past Rory O’Brien 3-1, while Mooney had defeated Aedan McGivern 3-2.

Day 3 began with the U21 Mens Singles, with danger throughout the draw, no straightforward groups here.  Ultimately, it was Art McLaughlin who came through to take his second title of the Championships, 3-1 in the semi-final versus Zak Earley and 3-2 in an extremely close and hard fought final against James Skelton.  Earlier, Skelton came past Thomas Earley 3-2 in the semi-final.

The final event of the Championships was the Cadet Singles.  Max Skelton took the Cadet Boys title, to add to his Mini Cadet Boys crown from 2018, taking the semi-final 3-0 against Gellert Moravcsik, and the final 3-0 against Jonny Mooney.  Earlier, Mooney defeated Niall Lane 3-0 in the semi-final.  The Cadet Girls final was the last match of the day, ultimately taken by the top seed Lucy McIvor on a 3-1 scoreline against Emily Flynn.  In the semi-finals, McIvor defeated Anjali Singh 3-1, while Flynn came past Lily Smith in a close match 3-2.

Thanks are due for the support shown by the Clubs in taking part in the event, and the patience shown by the membership as TTI worked within the restrictions and guidelines brought upon us all at this time.  We are especially indebted to all those who Umpired matches, and in particular to the two National Umpires who showed up for all three days, Ian Erskine and Cecilia Armelin; to our Referees and event team, Con O’Ceadaigh, Tony Martin, Niall O’Flaherty and Eoin O’Flaherty; and to the hall setup crew.

National Champions 2020

  • Mini Cadet Boys – Matthew Mooney (Ormeau)
  • Cadet Boys – Max Skelton (Ormeau)
  • Junior Boys – Art McLaughlin (UCD-Dublin)
  • U21 Men – Art McLaughlin (UCD-Dublin)
  • Senior Men – Ashley Robinson (UCD-Dublin)
  • Mini Cadet Girls – Anjali Singh (Ormeau)
  • Cadet Girls – Lucy McIvor (Ormeau)
  • Junior Girls – Mia O’Rahilly Egan (Griffeen)
  • Senior Ladies – Sophie Earley (Ormeau)