Laois youngsters answer Ireland’s call

Kate Whelan, Jessie Hayes and Tadhg Downey have all been selected to play for Ireland in the upcoming Primary Schools International event in the comming weeks.

Kate Whelan, Jessie Hayes and Tadhg Downey have all been selected to play for Ireland in the upcoming Primary Schools International event in the comming weeks.

A huge honour for the three young wizards, all who possess exceptional talent at table tennis and who will forever remember this achievement. For Kate, this will be her second year to reach this milestone, an event in which she captured the international stage by becoming international singles champion in 2012.

Indeed, it’s well recognised by the sport that Kate is among the greatest ever talents in Ireland for her age, while Jessie and Tadhg possess exceptional talent for their young years also. Jessie will also be young young enough to compete at U-12 again in next seasons national events.All national teams consist of four players, a boys team and a girls team.

At national competitions over the past weekend, we saw all top level players from the area head to Castlebar, where the latest All-Ireland event was staged. An amazing array of talent from all over Ireland took to the tables to battle for silverware, and much valued ranking points.

As the competition progressed there were many shining lights from the midlands, of which Kate Whelan was again like a laser beam, with Dylan Grace in hot pursuit. Whelan captured the U-12 title again with a comfortable win over Marie Williams in the final. Leanne Delaney, who had earlier beaten Williams, produced excelent form to reach fourth place on the day, with Jessie Hayes coming in fifth.

U-12 Boys was a hotbed of exceptional talent in which any one of eight players could capture the title. Grace and Tadhg Downey were in excellent form but had to battle hard to come through most difficult early rounds, and indeed it was Downey’s early results that kept himself and Grace in the competition, at the expence if upcoming international player Ethan Duffy.

As the rounds progressed Grace hit exceptional form to knock out Downey and Irish number one Eoin Cathcart to reach the final, where his opponent was Cork’s James Kelly. Kelly was having one hell of a day, and this was indeed to carry him through in that final as his sheer strength and power was just that bit too much in what was a very good final. U-14 Girls saw Kate Whelan resume where she had left off the previous day at U-12, with her usual cool, calm ‘what’s the panic?’ attitude, and like poetry in motion she just glided through a very challenging group of rounds to reach the semi-finals, where the pressure had to be stepped up big-time.

However, with good tactical play and exceptional touch she carved out a 3-0 win over international player Elayna McClone to reach the final against Katie McClone. In this closely contested match the Dublin girl narrowly hit the higher notes to win the event. Many other players produced excellent performances at exceptionally high standard to take silverware, including Scott Jestiin who beat Eddie Ditchburn to win out at Division 2, which came about at latter stages of the event.

Tiegan O’Connor took bronze at U-10 to keep consistent form, while Amylou Hayes took plate honours U-17 and Jessie Hayes took U-14 sllverware also. Noticeable progress was also made by Paddy Vaughan, Claire Handcock, Nadia Krawczun, Katie Hayes and Sarah O’Connor.

Overall fantastic results for players who come together every Wednesday and Friday evenings at Mountrath Table Tennis Club where they continue to hone their skills for Provincial, National and International competition with club coach Jimmy Hayes, along with National and International table tennis coaches