The past weekend saw the beginning of the Irish domestic senior Table Tennis season. Annually the much awaited first tournament after the summer break takes place in Dublin in the form of the Irish Senior Classification event. Two days of battling on the tables accounts for well over one hundred matches and draws in spectators from around the country. This year it was the young Ulster Stars that took the top positions in both the Men’s and the Ladies events with Paul McCreery and Hannah Lynch-Dawson taking home well deserved gold medals.
Day 1 of the event on Saturday was the chance for 6 male players and 3 lady players to hit top form in order to qualify for the main event on Sunday to join the automatically qualified players who finished at the top of the ranking lists last season. Ulster had hopes of some positive results from the ever present Daryl Strong and a selection of other top players but the competition was fierce from all angles of the country. At the close of the qualifiers on Saturday evening the scene was set for the main Sunday event.
Ulster’s evergreen Ashley Robinson took control of the Men’s Group A pool and finished in 1st spot winning all his 8 matches which included some nail biting displays of table tennis magic. In the other half of the Men’s draw Paul McCreery pushed his way into 1st place as other Ulster hopefuls Keith Knox and Peter Graham finished 2nd and 5th respectively. The final session of the Men’s event saw 3 of the 4 semi finalists from Ulster lining up alongside John Murphy from Dublin. Keith Knox prevailed over Ashley Robinson in a close 5 set encounter whilst Paul McCreery made lighter work of John Murphy in the other semi final to secure an all Ulster final between himself and Knox. A tense battle erupted table side as both players showed off some wonderful attacking skills but it was McCreery who kept his cool after a long 5 set showdown to defeat Knox and become the Men’s Singles winner.
The Women’s event saw a number of Ulster’s young talents, such as Erin Thompson, look to qualify for the Sunday session. The competition was tough for all and some impressive play was on display from the young hopefuls. Sunday was the main event and all eyes where upon last year’s winner Ashley Givan and her Ulster team mates Emma Ludlow and Hannah Lynch-Dawson. Givan was typically displaying her fine aggressive form throughout the day and seemed fairly comfortable on the table. Stiff competition was evident from all the female players with the likes of Dublin’s Sabina Devereux who can turn a game around in just a few points but it was the young Hanna Lynch-Dawson from Ulster who kept her concentration and steadied her play to become the winner of the Ladies event, her biggest achievement to date so far.
The President of the Irish Table Tennis Association (ITTA) Joe Hickey, took to the stage to present the winners from Ulster, Paul McCreery and Hannah Lynch-Dawson, with their well deserved awards.
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