UCD staged a the most recent table tennis challenger event in Leinster, with 120 players from around the province congregating in the main hall of the college on Saturday last.
This event precluded Irelands top 10 boys and girls from entering the event but there remained a very competitive group of players who took this event with great ambition to make a name for themselves. Thirty players from Laois were among the entries.
With many rounds taking their course it was eventually brought to concluding stages where the last four standing would meet in the semi-finals. The amazing fact was that all four players were from Laois. The first semi-final had Eoghan Whelan (Ballyroan) up against John Mansfield (Rathdowney). After a superb game Whelan got the upperhand and staked his claim for a place in the final.
In the other semi-final Scott Jestin (Mountrath) was meeting Diarmuid Whelan (Ballyroan). These two young U-12 players put in a fine performance with the Mountrath player coming out on top. In the final which followed the crowd witnessed a spectacular game of table tennis by the two boys, with Whelan taking the first set and Jestin turning the tables to level it at 1-1.
In the third and final set the Ballyroan player got away to an excelent start and while Jestin made a excelent recovery, he could not dislodge his opponent and on a 11-6 scoreline Eoghan took top honours
Diarmuid Whelan and John Mansfield shared joint third and so made another superb outing for the ever growing band of Laois players who have moved on from simple ping pong for fun to training hard, learning fast and giving commitment as they prepare and participate with the best in the country as they set their sights at becomming another stronghold of table tennis in Ireland.