Laois Open Badminton Championships were held in Vicarstown prior to Christmas.
Players contested in five grades, with plenty of exciting badminton played and many games won by the narrowest of margins.
Clubs representing Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, Kilkenny and Kildare took part although Athy RFC is affiliated to Laois, not Kildare.
The biggest entry in Grade 6 was in Men’s Doubles where the Country Club (Ballyskenagh, Offaly) pair, Tony O’Connor and Paddy Quinlan, shaded a very close match, getting the better of the Portarlington Parochial pair, Matt Geogeghan and Andrew Meehan, by just two scores. The Portarlington Parochial ladies, Helen Dempsey and Lydia Hendy, topped their event. The full results are as follows:
Grade 6 Ladies: Winners, Helen Dempsey and Lydia Hendy, PP; Runners-Up, Mary Doogue and Betty Dunne, Athy RFC.
Grade 6 Men: Winners, Tony O’Connor and Paddy Quinlan, Country Club; Runners-up, Matt Geogeghan and Andrew Meehan, PP.
Grade 6 Mixed Doubles: Winners, Helen Dempsey and Tony O’Connor, PP and CC; Runners-up, Lydia Hendy and Matt Geogeghan, PP.
Grade 5 saw another big entry in the men’s event. Alan Conroy and Michael Mahon, Killoughey in OY, won the top position, with only 4 scores separating the 2nd and 3rd pairs.
Grade 5 Men: Winner, Alan Conroy and Michael Mahon, Killoughey; Runners-up, Brendan Sourke and James Kilbride, Athy RFC. Grade 5 Mixed: Winners, Mary Doogue and James Kilbride, Athy RFC; Runners-up, Jennifer Cass and Liam Hynes, Abbeyleix CYMS and Kinnity.
Again the Men turned out in numbers for the Grade 4 competition. The final typlified the entire event with the young Country Club pairing of Andrew Cullen and John McCabe just pipping the Johnswell pair of Tony Nolan and Declan Bennett on a scoreline of 21/19, 19/21, 23/21. Declan paired off with Rachel Cass in the Mixed Doubles, but hard luck again, the Portarlington pair of Chelsey Cox and Leon Coe just got the better of them in the final.
Grade 4 Ladies: Winners: Chelsey Cox and Bernie Molloy, PP and Kinnity; Runners-up; Jennifer Cass and Rachel Cass, Abbeyleix CYMS.
Grade 4 Men; Andrew Cullen and John McCabe, CC; Runners-up, Tony Nolan and Declan Bennett, Johnswell of Kilkenny.
Grade 4 Mixed Doubles: Chelsey Cox and Leon Coe, PP; Runners-up, Rachel Cass and Declan Bennett, AL CYMS and JW.
Grade 3 Mixed Doubles competition was a super display of mixed play and was nail-biting viewing for the supporters. Going into the last round of matches any one of 3 pairs were within striking distance of a win. Indeed, it was the pair in third position that ended up the winners. The top two pairs won the same number of sets and only 3 scores separated 1st and 2nd places.
Grade 3 Ladies: Winners, Rachel Cass and Barbara Coffey, AL CYMS; Runners-up, Lorraine Nolan and Dolores Sheerin, Ballymote, WH.
Grade 3 Men: Winners, Leon Coe and Stephen Herrity, PP; Runners-up, Michael Cass and Owen Wallace, AL CYMS.
Grade 3 Mixed: Dolores Sheerin and Stephen Herrity, Ballymote and PP; Runners-up, Lorraine Nolan and Owen Wallace, BM and AL.
Grade 2 was the smallest of all the entries, not surprising since in most sports, the higher up the skill ladder a player goes, the fewer players reach that skill level.
Grade 2 Men: Winners, Alan Cobbe and Stephen Herrity, PP; Runners-up, Alan Franks and Cormac Franks, CC.
Grade 2 Mixed Doubles: Winners, Audrey Coe and Alan Cobbe, PP; Laure Coe and Stephen Herrity, PP.
In other doubles action, four young Clonaslee boys played in the Beginners Division, Division 5, of the Offaly Juvenile Doubles Competition. Jake Smith and Luke Kelly top the division with 10 wins. Jake also played with Carl Coughlan from Boora and finished with six wins. Aaron Lambe and Josh McCann are just outside the semifinal spots with three wins, but were very competitive, losing one game by one point and three games by two points. The second round of the competition and the finals will be February 24 in Clonaslee Community Centre.