Two teams from Sligo Tennis Club’s badminton section travelled to Badminton Ireland’s National Headquarters in Baldoyle, Dublin on May 13th to compete in the Badminton Ireland National Interleague Finals at Division 1 and Division 3 level.
This gathering of teams from all around the country represents the climax of the season for badminton players and akin to any team setting foot on Croke Park soil it is an honour and testament to a season of hard work and training for any team to reach the National Interleague Finals in Baldoyle. STC badminton teams were not strangers to this hallowed turf by any means though as the Club were Title holders from 2011 at Division 1 and Division 5 Levels. On this occasion the STC teams were vying to re-capture the Division 1 Title and to attempt a fresh challenge at Division 3 level.
First up for STC’s Division 1 team was the Leinster champions, Mount Pleasant. Sligo got off to a slow start with both Men’s Singles and Ladies Singles going to Mount Pleasant. Joseph Keown and Fionnuala Scanlon both made brave attempts in these matches but the match-hardy opponents came through. The Men’s Doubles pairing of Jonathon Dolan and Graeme Watt defeated Mount Pleasant’s Jonathon Ruddy and Mark Cobbe in 2 sets while the Ladies Doubles pairing of Paula Watt and Victoria Stevens could not overcome the experienced Mount Pleasant pair, Kirsty Kelly and Siobhan Grehan. Things looked grim for Sligo as they were now 3-1 down going into the final 3 Mixed Doubles matches of the tie. This did not dampen Sligo’s determination and they took 2 out of the 3 Mixed Doubles. Jonathon Dolan and Francie Mahon took 1st Mixed Doubles in 2 sets and Paula Watt and Graeme Watt came through a close 3 set match to capture 2nd Mixed Doubles. Victoria Stevens and Joseph Keown were unlucky to be defeated in a tight encounter at 3rd Mixed.
Final result; Mount Pleasant 4 – Sligo 3.
The reigning Munster champions, UCC, awaited Sligo’s attention next. With 4 points already under UCC’s belt upon defeating Mount Pleasant earlier, Sligo knew a win against UCC was essential to be in contention to defend their Division 1 Title. Paula Watt took Ladies Singles in fine form for Sligo. Men’s Singles went to UCC despite Danny Keown’s best efforts, as did Ladies Doubles. Men’s Doubles again went to Sligo. This time it was 2 – 2 prior to the 3 Mixed Doubles matches. The writing was on the wall, a win was required. The 1st Mixed pairing of Francie Mahon and Jonathon Dolan really dug deep to triumph in a tough 3 set match against UCC’s Ciara O’Connor and Colm Kelly. Paula Watt and Graeme Watt had a similar situation and battled hard in a 3 set match only to loose narrowly in the end. Fortunately the 3rd Mixed pairing of Victoria Stevens and Joseph Keown took their match in 2 sets. Final result; Sligo 4 – UCC 3.
This created the unusual situation of all 3 teams; UCC, Mount Pleasant and Sligo being on 7 points each. It was a tense time as the adjudicators performed a count-back on sets won by all teams. The Sligo team could be heard in relief and celebration as it was announced that Sligo had won with 18 sets, 2 sets clear of Mount Pleasant. What an achievement to retain this coveted Title 2 years in a row.
It wasn’t all about Division 1 in Baldoyle, however, as Sligo’s Division 3 team were simultaneously embroiled in their own battles further down the sports arena. The Sligo Division 3 team were not caught in the traps by any means though as they defeated their Munster opponents from Cork City, Melbourne, 7 – 0. Danny Keown and Claire Finnegan both won their respective Single’s matches. Similarly, in the Doubles ties, Conor Caheny and Conor Scanlon, and Siobhan Parker and Rebecca McGillen overcame their opponents in 2 sets. Sligo also took the 3 Mixed Doubles matches with Rebecca McGillen and Conor Scanlon in 1st Mixed and Marie McTiernan and Danny Keown in 3rd Mixed winning comfortably. Sligo’s 2nd Mixed pairing of Siobhan Parker and Brian Caliendo had to battle hard to overcome their Melbourne opponents and the tie was decided in a close 3rd set which Sligo won 21 – 17.
With 7 points secured, Sligo were hot favourites going into the 2nd match against Leinster Club, Carlow YM. This time, however, Sligo did not get it all their own way. Conor Caheny lost out in Men’s Singles, as did Siobhan Parker and Rebecca McGillen in a long 3 set battle for Ladies Doubles. The score levelled at 2 – 2 when Claire Finnegan took Ladies Singles along with Danny Keown and Conor Scanlon in Men’s Doubles. Sligo needed only one out of the 3 Mixed ties to guarantee the Division 3 Title for the Connaught Club. As it happened, Sligo took all 3 Mixed ties to defeat Carlow YM by a score line of 5-2 and capture the Division 3 National Interleague Title for Sligo.
Many thanks to John Dolan for Managing both teams on the day and to the Sligo travelling supporters. Both teams greatly appreciated the support and management efforts. The double National Interleague wins for STC Badminton has come as a result of a season which seen a lot of competition, tournaments and training by the players. As always much work is done off the court too to facilitate both Club and competitive events.
Many thanks to the Badminton Club Captain Victoria Stevens, Vice-Captain John Dolan and Connaught representative Paul Dolan for their persistent efforts throughout the 2011/2012 badminton season. This is to mention only a few of the active organisers within STC Badminton as many others also have given their time and efforts to keep the Club active and dynamic.
The sponsors who support the Club are crucial to the Club’s survival, without them Club competitions would not be possible – thanks to Third Wave Music (O’Connell Street), Maple Moose (Strandhill) and Voya (Strandhill) for their on-going support.