Connaught Junior Open Report

Junior Boys

colm_liverpoolColm Murphy, coming into the event as 7th seed played very well to finish the event in 5th position. His first round group was tricky with 3 decent players to overcome but he came through top of the group winning all 3 matches, a 3-2 win over Number 2 Cadet Charlie Fitzgerald being the most difficult of the 3.  His second round group saw him up against Geoffrey O’ Connor and Zak Earley. Again, not the easiest of draws. A solid 3-0 win against Zak and another 3-1 against 9th seed Geoffrey put Colm top of the group and into the last 16. There he would meet a much improved Harry McGoldrick from Ulster. Another solid performance with only one set dropped put Colm into the last 8. There he faced Kevin Hutchinson of UCD. Kevin played some super table tennis to beat Colm without dropping a set. He would go on to beat top seed Ryan Farrell in the semi-final. Being the other side of the draw may have helped Colm but that’s the way and it goes. The 5-8 playoff was important to get vital ranking points for the Junior Nationals next month and Colm showed a good attitude and some mature performances saw him beat 6th seed Ryan McConkey and 7th seed Luke Dempsey to claim a deserved 5th place.

Cadet Boys

IMG_3171Niall Brown was given two tough draws, particularly in the second round and would finish in 17th position overall. His first round group contained number 2 seed and eventual winner Brian Dunleavy, a much improved Jack Costello from Connacht and fellow Munster player Conor O’ Callaghan. Despite a slow start against Jack in the first match and going 2-0 down, Niall showed great belief and attitude to come through in 5 sets against decent opposition. Next up was Brian Dunleavy, and with nothing to lose Niall played some good stuff without taking a set, but definitely showing some decent form. Conor, who had beaten Niall earlier this year was comfortably beaten 3-0. This was a good sign of the confidence Niall had taken from the previous matches. His second round contained number 1 seed Evin McGovern and also Ethan Duffy and Paddy Vaughan. With each player losing to McGovern it was a battle for second place with Niall losing out in an extremely tight 5 setter with Duffy to just miss out on qualifying for the last 16. A good showing from Niall who can take positives from his performances. A bit more consistency needed for this level of event.

Cadet Girls

IMG_3174Nora O’ Sullivan, making only her 3rd appearance in an Irish ranking had nothing to lose going into the girls event. Due tot her not having played all the events this year, her seeding was low and her first round group was very difficult, containing the number 3 seed Amanda Taylor and number 2 U-13 girl Mia O’ Rahily Egan. Nora keeps on improving but the tough group gave her little chance of progressing. She played some good stuff against Mia and could have taken sets if a bit more belief was shown! Going into Band 2, Nora had a good chance of a medal. There she faced some decent players and picked up good 2-0 wins against Amy O’ Dowd and Grace Hodgins to make her way to the semi-final. She faced an in-form Sophie Kenny form Carlow there and lost 2-0. However, the final set against Kenny was the best Nora has played all year and was really a positive note to leave on. Once this rate of improvement continues Nora will cause some damage at Munster and National level next season.