Team Ireland Reach New Heights at Euro Minis

Team at Euro Mini Championships

Young Sophie Earley of Ormeau TTC was the star performer over the weekend as the Irish mini cadets produced a run of exceptional results at the 2016 Euro Mini Championships in Schiltigheim, France. 

In an event involving countries from right across Europe, this is the first true International tournament for many young players. Representing Ireland was the more ‘senior’ Thomas Joyce who was competing in the Mini Cadet Boys event, while he was joined by two relative rookies on the International stage, Ulsters Sophie Earley and Munsters Silke Heinen. They were led by experienced NPC’s John Murphy and Conn Higgins.

In the exciting format, lots of matches are guaranteed at this strong event, however with players dropping at every phase, it is in many ways about survival thoughout the early stages. Fortunately, the Irish trio were up to the challenge. Sophie battled her way through in convincing fashion in the Mini Mini Cadet Girls (2005) as she won all her matches in the opening 3 phases to book her place in the Last 32 out of the 96 strong field. 

Silke and Thomas were also enjoying success early in the event, as they both battled through close encounters to get through the opening 3 phases. For Silke, this also meant a place in the Last 32, an outstanding achievement considering the level of competition on show. 

For Thomas though, he still needed to negotiate his way through another phase before reaching the knockout rounds and unfortunately, hampered by an injury, the Mayo Academy player couldn’t quite keep his run going. 

This left Sophie and Silke battling it out in the top 32. Unfortunatly they wouldn’t go any further as they both went down here to top opposition. This wasn’t the end though, as they would both play off for 17th position in their respective age groups. Silke would go on to have a number of tight battles here, before eventually ending up in 32nd place at this years Euro Mini Championships. To put her achievement in context, no other Irish player has finished as high in this event since the HP programme included this event in our calendar 3 years ago. 

With Silke finished, Sophie was the last one remaining. In typical gritty fashion, the Ormeau player showed exceptional maturity despite her tender age to seal more wins against tough opposition before eventually finishing up in 19th place! Playing 1 year above her age, this was a remarkable achievement for the Belfast girl – well done Sophie!

On behalf of everyone involved in Table Tennis Ireland, we would like to congratulate our young team on what were excellent results at this prestigious event. Onwards and upwards for the future!