Senior 6 Nations: Wales and England Take Team Gold

The Senior 6 Nations Table tennis Championships got off to an explosive start at DCU on Friday night following an Opening Ceremony led by Dublin’s Lord Mayor Emer Costello.  Ireland’s men couldn’t have asked for a tougher start, coming up first against one of the tournament favourites Wales.

With the Jenkins brothers leading the Welsh, this was always going to be a difficult match for this Irish team, blending a mix of experience in Brian Fitzgerald and John Murphy and youth in promising talents Sam Hanley and Gavin Maguire. Murphy was first into action for the Irish, taking on Steven Jenkins – Jenkins eventually triumphing after a thrilling 5 set match. This was a topsy-turvy affair from start to finish, Murphy was able to level the match at 2-2 with a great display of attacking table tennis in front of a supportive home crowd, but this was not enough to prevent Jenkins taking the match. National champion Maguire was next in action against Ryan Jenkins who showed his class to take a 3-0 win. Fitzgerald and Murphy then lost the Doubles and Wales emerged 3-0 victors. Ireland then had 2 games against Isle of Man and Guernsey, with Sam Hanley and Brian Fitzgerald getting some match time to come through both matches on a 3-0 scoreline.The crucial games were to come on Saturday against England and Scotland.

Against the English, Murphy and Maguire were selected for the Irish and they certainly did not let favourites England have things their own way. Murphy took a set of Pitchford who would later go on to claim the singles prize, before Maguire almost pulled off a major shock, taking Darius Knight to a 5th set before fading. Knight and Pitchford cmbined well in the Doubles, leaving Ireland with a match against the Scots for the bronze medal. This was an intriguing contest and Murphy gave the Irish the early initiative, defeating Niall Cameron in 4 sets. Maguire was next up and he faced Howieson. Maguire took the 1st set but Howieson fought back to eventually claim the match 3-1. Brian Fitzgerald was paired with Murphy for the Doubles, but in a tight and nervy Doubles contest, the Scots took the match leaviing Murphy to play to keep the Irish in contention for bronze. Unfortunately, Howieson was too strong for the Dubliner and Scotland took the bronze, leaving Ireland in 4th position.

In the Women’s event, Ireland also had a tough challenge in their first game against the Welsh. Amanda Mogey is the top ranked player for the Irish and she was in dominant form taking her match against Angharad Phillips, but this was not enough to prevent the Welsh from recording a 3-1 victory. Wales, driven by the top ranked player in the event, Naomi Owen looked ominously strong. Cadet Ashley Givan and Chesire based Fiona Dennett were introduced for the Isle of Man game and did not let anyone down, claiming a 3-0 victory. Coach Brett reverted to Mogey and Claire Nelson for the Guernsey game in the Singles and they delivered the match, despite Mogey dropping a match to Kay Chivers. So similar to the Men, the Women had critical matches against England and Wales. Again Mogey and Nelson were called into action and they did not disappoint. Following a loss to England, the Ladies regrouped and showed immense talend and maturity to dominate the Scottish match, losing in the Doubles but dominating the singles. This victory secured bronze for the team(pictured with supporter above).

With Ireland playing Scotland for Bronze in both the Mens and Womens event, it was a similar story in the battle for Gold, with England and Wales both in contention. In the Mens, Darius Knight was in top form, defeating both Ryan and Steven Jenkins to deliver Gold for England. In the Womens event, Naomi Owen showed her class in a similar fashion, taking her 2 singles and assisting in a Doubles win to claim gold for Wales.

ITTA Technical Director John O’Donoghues was satisfied with some of the Irish performances over the weekend, stating;

“Overall, it was a good weekend for our developing young teams. Amanda Mogey in particular playes very well to repeat her bronze medal success of last year, and was unfortunate in her semi-final against Hannah Hicks. We are disappointed not to have taken bronze in the Mens event, but the players will have learned from this experience as we build for the future”

All in all, it was a superb weekend of table tennis in DCU. Many thanks to tournament referee Karen Tonge MBE, Tony Martin and all of their Umpires for their hard work over the weekend. Also thanks to our event sponsors and volunteers who helped make this a memorable weekend for players and spectators.