Laois Community Games action took centre stage in Ballyroan Community Hall on Friday evening last, with many table tennis teams from Ballyroan, Emo-Rath, Mountrath and Rathdowney competing for county titles at U-13 and U-16 boys and girls.
An U-13 boys semi-final saw Ballyroan’s Brian Whelan, Jack Carroll, Enda Dunne, Kevin Fitzpatrick and Mathew McCormack have a comfortable 5-2 win over a Rathdowney team of Eoghan Flanagan, Andrew Neill and Conor Handcock. In the final which followed, Ballyroan took on Emo-Rath, who got a bye to the final. Evan Harding, Jack Owens, Evan Hard, Liam Crowley, Eoghan Keegan and Brian Ryan put in a spirited performance for Emo-Rath, but on this occasion they were up against strong opposition in Ballyroan who secured a 6-1 victory.
Teams from Mountrath and Emo-Rath contested the U-13 girls final with Jessie Hayes, Leanne Delaney, Nadia Krawczun, Tiegan O’Connor and Hailey Hayes in smashing form to produce a 6-1 victory for the town, and while the score may sound one sided this young Emo-Rath team of Aoife Langford, Cloda Brogan, Gillian Keenan, Mary Kate Moore and Emma Lawlor gave a good performance with potential to make even greater progress in the feature within the sport.
Boys U-16s produced a superb final worthy of an All-Ireland level with Rathdowney pulling off a surprise 4-3 result with victory in the last set over a very strong and much fancied Ballyroan team of Eoghan, Diarmuid and Charlie Whelan. The key to this victory was probably the superb and solid performance by Scott Jestin, winning his two singles and teaming up with John Mansfield to take what was the overall decider in the doubles on a 3-2 sets win.Mansfield also captured a singles victory and along with Andrew Mansfield they lived a dream with a close shave on the night.
The last deciding event was Ladies U-16 with Ballyroan and Rathdowney meeting in the semi-final.On a score of 5-2 Eimile McWey, Kate Whelan and Katie Clerkin had victory over Rathdowney’s Niamh Flanagan, Jessica Stanley and Sarah Handcock and proceeded to the final where they would meet Mountrath, who had received a bye into the final.
Ballyroan would start favourites but Mountrath’s Katie Hayes took a surprise double victory on the night which turned the game in the towns favour and with excellent wins for Amylou Hayes and Rachel Honner they ran out 5-2 winners.
Overall this was an evening of high standard table tennis in which a number of teams could have won a final and be a fine representative for the county in the Community Games.
Laois winners will now face teams from a playoff between Offaly and Westmeath in the coming weeks with the winners booking a place for provincial semi-finals and finals in Carlow later in the season.