UCD and UCC share the spoils at Irish Universities Championships.

The UCC Mardyke Arena was the venue for the annual Intervarsity Championships on 24/25 February 2017, and those fortunate enough to be in the hall late on Friday night saw one of the most exciting Mens Team finals that has graced this event for many years.

UCD entered the weekend as slight favourites, if only by their record in the competition, winning the last 17 instalments of the event; and with an array of internationals and interprovincials in their ranks, including representation from 3 provinces, with names such as Tom Davis, Kris Foster and Luke Dempsey,  boasted a line up as strong as any that has graced the competition.  However, hosts UCC also had a formidable squad of interprovincial and internationals from which to choose their team, with new addition Alan Walsh boosting the depth in a squad that also included Declan O’Brien and Colm Murphy. 

In a see-saw match, the momentum swayed back and forth as the 12 singles were played out, with both teams feeling there were points that got away.  With UCD 7-5 up after the singles rubbers, it was all to play for in the doubles, but three tight matches that could have gone either way all ultimately fell to UCD, who took their 18th consecutive Irish Universities Championship title in the 69th instalment of the Hubert Wine Cup.

Earlier, UCC had sewn up the Ladies team title, while Trinity took the Mens team Plate.

On Singles Saturday, it very quickly shaped up to be a Cork and Dublin affair at Mens Quarter Final stage, with four players from each city in the mix.  Top seed and defending Champion Tom Davis took his place in the final four with a win against Brian Kelleher, while Declan O’Brien came past Luke Dempsey.  The all UCD face off of Andrew Campbell against #4 seed Kris Foster saw a well earned upset by Campbell, continuing the good form that had seen him come past Shane O’Connor (CIT) in the group stages, while the all UCC match between Alan Walsh and Colm Murphy saw Irish #4 Walsh take his place in the semi-finals.  No surprises in the semi-finals as the top seeds came through their derby matches, Davis putting a stop to the giant killing run of Campbell, while Walsh came past O’Brien.  With the top two seeds through to the decider, Walsh was seeking to reverse the result between the players from the team event, but a tense opening exchange saw Davis get off to the better start of the two players, taking the first two ends.  A fightback by Walsh in the 3rd end wasn’t enough to stop Davis taking the 4th end, and the match 3-1, earning his second consecutive Irish Universities Singles Champion title.

In the Ladies Singles, the dominant UCC squad continued where they left off on Friday, with UCC taking 3 of the semi-final places, Colleen Wong from RCSI making up the 4th slot.  Emily Burns belied her seeding with a hard fought win against team mate Rachel Chen in the semi-final, while Katharine NG came through against Wong.  In the final, it was a win for Ng against Burns, taking the Irish Universities Ladies Singles Champion title for the first time.