All attendance records were broken at the STIGA National Junior League recently with 40 teams entered from all over Ireland forcing organisers to open a second venue to accommodate all players. In the end, 22 tables were used across both Colaiste Phadraig in Lucan and Roadstone in Kingswood, with 5 Divisions of 8 teams each in action.
Looking first to Divisions 4 & 5 which were played out in Lucan. There was a great atmosphere at this venue as many of the participants made their debut in a National event, although many would have placed in the STIGA Junior Challenger Series. Fantastic to see also was many of the ITTA funded participation projects in attendance, demonstrating a commitment within these projects to encourage their players towards tournament play. In Division 5, the Final match up was played out between John Bowe’sHigh School and Liam O’Ceallaigh’s Raven TTC. The high quality of table tennis on display here is testament to the work put in by both coaches, and we had several closely fought matches. In the end, Raven TTC claimed the title on a 4-1 score line. Expect to see more of these youngsters over the coming years. Division 4 was also a hard fought affair, and was a battle of the provinces in the Final as Leeside TTC C came up against Mayo C. This one went all the way to the wire, with the match resulting in a 3:3 draw and went to count back. After some deliberation by the excellent Tournament Referee Stuart McConkey, Leeside C (pictured) were crowned champions of Division 4. Coach Ben Haughton was delighted with his young charges and looks to be building a fine club in Leeside TTC. The main feature of these Divisions was the fun nature of the event, with excellent co-operation with our volunteer team and a great attitude from all players. Thanks to John Bowe, Tibor Pofok, Anna Kelly, Tommy Fitzgerald and Stuart McConkey who helped deliver a fine event for these developi
To Roadstone then for our top Divisions – a new venue for Irish table tennis and one we may use again – impressive playing conditions for our top Juniors and nice catering facilities on site for all to avail of. Division 3 was dominated by UCD – with UCD’s D & E teams battling for top spot. There is serious strength in depth in this UCD team, with the D team eventually claiming Gold in a 4:0 win. Division 2 was a battle between Kinneigh B and Leeside A. Leeside were in impressive form throughout, with Alan Walsh, Chloe O’Halloran and James Kelly all in top form as the Cork team claimed a 4:2 victory and the Division 2 Final.
All eyes then turned to the Division One match-ups, with many of the country’s top Junior Boys & Girls in action. This was a really strong division which featured 3 teams from Club Donic – an impressive representation for the Lucan based club. Donic A topped their group and faced off against UCD A in an all Dublin title decider. UCD had some fine talent on display including Li Shizhao, former Donic player returning to haunt his old team. Kevin Hutchinson, Tobias Wolff and Jack Donnelly also line out for UCD’s top team as they looked to justify their Number One seeding. Donic also had a strong line-up on show, with Conor Mullally, Tom Davis and Ciaran Kelly all in good form. UCD were focussed on the job in hand and dominated the match to record a 4-0 victory and retain their Premier Division title – congratulations to all involved at the club.
In summary, 2 of the 5 Divisional titles went to UCD, with a further 2 going South to Leeside TTC with one title to Raven TTC. However perhaps the biggest story here was the excellent entry of 40 teams, up from 14 teams last season and the volunteers of the ITTA rising to meet the challenge – Jamie McConkey, Tony Martin, Tony Phillips, Louise Long, Shay Logue, Arthur Brett, Joe Finnegan and Sam Logue were all instrumental to the delivery of a fantastic event in Roadstone – many thanks to the team, your work is greatly appreciated.
Congratulations again to all players who participated – we look forward to seeing you all again next season. Finally, thanks to sponsor Tommy Fitzgerald from STIGA Ireland who had shops in both venues and was worked hard all day!