Magical displays of speed, spin and mind reading were all part of the menu at the recent All-Ireland table tennis event at the Valley Leasure Centre in Belfast.
Kate Whelan, who displays an amazing talent at a comfortable ease, cut her way through a most competitive group of players at U-12 and faced her main contender for the title in Rebecca Finn from Lisburn in the final. In a classic encounter, Whelan took a firm grip of the game early and remained in control throughout the match and on a 3-0 scoreline, once again claiming the title of the best in Ireland at U-12.
Amylou Hayes, who competes at U-14, was in consistent form also and following many difficult battles at the table she reached the semi-finals where she put in a storming display, only to lose by the narrowest of margins to Kate McClone of Dublin. However, she claimed bronze in the playoff for third place.
At U-10 Jessie Hayes produced a superb run of form to reach the final, where she cruised into a 2-0 lead. However her opponent Kiera O’Toole was not going to give up so easy and managed to turn the game around and won on a 3-2 scoreline. Overall, a superb outing from the Laois girls. Many fine displays and victories at the event also were recorded by Leanne Delaney who won the U-12 Division 2 Gold.
Kate Whelan won U-14 Division 2 gold. Tadhg Downey, competing in U-12 also won Division 2 gold. Excellent displays also at the event by Eimile McWey, Katie and Linda Hayes, Eoghan Whelan and Luke and Tim Dempsey.
At the weekend in Dublin many players from around the province gathered for the Leinster Junior Open. With a big attendence from the Laois squad who were really up for this event following their Belfast outing.
Laois girls took three titles at the event .Amylou Hayes won U-14, Kate Whelan won U-12 and Jessie Hayes won U-10 (where she beat Kiera O’Toole 3-1 in the final), while Amylou Hayes also took third in the U-17 event. In the boys game, a superb display by Scott Jestin saw him reach the semi-finals in U-12 and U-14. Along the way he had victories over current international players. Jestin’s progress has been amazing in recent times especially as there are so many excelent players in these age groups. John Mansfield, who has also been making steady progress, took silver in Division 2 U-14.
The next major outing will be in Killarney (INEC) from December 2 to 4. On the local scene the new season of Starball League is underway with 21 teams over 3 Divisions. The new Laois Junior League is about to roll also with 3 Divisions. Next Laois Ability Tournament is in November. Details to follow.