Peter Clarke Reports from STIGA Ulster Open
Dubliner John Murphy was at his ruthless best in the Valley Leisure centre on Saturday when he dispatched the entire Ulster team one by one to claim the Ulster Open title in spectacular fashion. Popular oriental ace Na Liu once again dominated the main ladies event while the impressive Pawel Sulcowski (Poland) lived up to his No1 seeding in the veterans class.
Super fit Murphy, who plays his league table tennis in Belgium, was pitted against the Ulster champion Keith Knox in the last 16. The Trillick Tornado was the aggressor from the off but he was eventually tamed by the blocking and counter hitting of Irish No1 in four close sets. Murphy survived a close call against the brilliant topspin wizard Peter Graham who came back from 10-6 down in the fifth to draw level but then faltered at the line. The Dublin ace then used all his experience to outfox Under 21 winner Paul McCreery in a pulsating semi final clash.
Anyone who writes off Daryl Strong does so at their peril and the Queens destroyer reached the final after surviving two bruising five setters against Ashley Robinson (Clogher) and Sam Hanley (Dublin) respectively. Although the final was competitive it proved to be a bridge too far for Strong as Murphy completed his nemesis act over the locals with a four set victory.
Belfast based Na Liu has set an unreachable benchmark for Irish ladies so when one of her protégés Claire Nelson (Belfast) took a game off the master in the semi the teenager could be well pleased with her efforts. Unstoppable Liu then beat combination bat specialist Amanda Mogey (Carnmoney) in an entertaining final while French league player Nelson had the consolation of winning the under 21 ladies after just piping Sara Dolan (Dublin) in a hammer and tongs five set thriller.
Mayo battler Kevin Devaney always gives a good account of himself in Irish tournaments but the much travelled Connacht inter provincial star was disappointed to lose in both the finals he contested to Sulcowski in the veterans and to University of Ulster, Jordanstown captain Gervis “Razor” Knox in the class 2.
Click here for full results.
Ulster Open 2010 Main Results
Mens singles Semi Finals
John Murphy (Leinster) bt Paul McCreery (Ulster) 3-1
Daryl Strong (Ulster) bt Sam Hanley (Leinster) 3-2
Murphy bt Strong 3-1
Ladies singles Semi Finals
Na Liu (China) bt Claire Nelson (Ulster) 3-1
Amanda Mogey (Ulster) bt Rebecca Kenny (Leinster) 3-0
Liu bt Mogey 3-0
McCreery/Keith Knox bt Murphy/Ryan Flood 3-0
Liu/Nelson bt Mogey/Ashley Given 3-0
Pawel Sulcowski (Poland) bt Kevin Devaney (Connacht) 3-1
Gervis Knox (Ulster) bt Devaney 3-1
Under 21’s Mens
McCreery bt Hanley 3-1
Undet 21’s Ladies
Nelson bt Sara Dolan (Leinster) 3-2