TEN PIN BOWLING:
Young Irish bowler Amanda Larkin made history las week when she became the first ever Irish winner of the European Youth Championships in Vienna.
Competing against 68 players from 22 countries, Larkin made the matchplay finals in ninth place after bowling consistently well in the qualifying rounds of the tournament. She then stepped up a gear, beating strong opponents from Russia, Belgium, Sweden and Austria to make the final. There she beat Andrea Hansen of Norway with games of 215 and 207 to win the title 2-0.
Larkin’s achievement tops an impressive few months for Irish junior bowlers, with outstanding performances in last November’s Junior Irish Open and top-eight finishes fot the next generation at the Irish Open International in January.
Jonathan Dolan from Sligo progressed furthest of the young Irish team at badminton’s European Junior Champions in Ankara, Turkey, making the last 32. Dolan had a straight sets win over Germany’s Mark Philip Byerly to make the last 32, but then lost to Dutch player Justin Teeuwen. In the second round of the women’s singles, Alannah Stephenson took the opening set against Maja Pavlinic of Croatia before going down 1-2. The men’s doubles paring of Dolan and David Walsh and the mixed doubles pairing of Ciaran Chambers and Caroline Black both went out in the opening round.
A European All-Stars team including Ireland’s Scott Evans finished fifth at the Axiata Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After beating the Phillippines 4-0 in the opening match of the secondf round, Europe lost 3-1 to Thailand which effectively put paid to their chances of making the semi-finals. In their final group match, they lost 1-3 to Indonesia. Evans was taken to hospital with suspected appendicitis mid-tournament, but tried to play on. He then took an eight hour flight to Sydney for the Australia Open, where he made the second round of the men’s singles, beating New Zealand player Wesley Caulkett, but then losing to No 6 seed Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia.
A young Irish team just lost out to Denmark for 11th position at the European U19 Squash Championships held in Switzerland. Michael Craig took a set off Thomas Laursen before going down 3-1 in a 46 minute marathon. In the second men’s singles, Sean Conroy dismissed Christian Steffensen in straight sets, while in the women’s singles, Breanne Flynn held out for 49 minutes against Line Falsig Berthou losing 3-1. Earlier, Ireland had lost a very close match against Germany for a place in the last eight. They then lost 2-1 to Finland and beat Belgium 2-1 before facing Denmark. Also on the team were Oisin Logan and Griffin Gillanders.
With two matches to go, Aer Lingus has taken over from UCD at the top of volleyball’s men’s premiership. A loss to Ballymun Patriots in February has proved critical to the UCD cause, but should they beat Aer Lingus in the final match of the season on April 21, they could still snatch the title. An early test of their mettle comes tomorrow (Sun) when the two sides face each other in the Association Cup semi-finals in Trinity College, Dublin. Defending champions Ballymun Patriots play NUIG in the other semi-final. In the women’s Association Cup semi-finals, top of the table Santry play NUIG, while defending champions DVC face Trinity. Just a single set separates Santry and DVC in the chase for the women’s premier division title with a decisive showdown between the two sides scheduled for April 21.
* Update: In the women’s semi-finals, defending champions DVC lost to Trinity 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-17), while Santry beat NUIG 3-0 (25-13, 25,19,25-19)in the other match. No surprises in the men’s semi-finals – defending champions Ballymum Patriots beat NUIG 3-1 after dropping the opener (21-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-12) and Aer Lingus beat UCD comfortably 3-0 (25-14, 25-10, 25-19).
Anthony Bonnar and Mark Tuite were the toast of the Irish snooker team when they beat Belgium to win the masters’ title at the European Snooker Championships in Serbia. It could have been an all-Irish fnal, with the B team of Stephen Merrigan and George O’Hara going out to Belgium in the semi-finals. In the senior tournament, the team of Brendan O’Donoghue, Rodney Goggins and John Sutton played brilliantly to reach the semi-finals. A young B squad of Jason Devaney, Ryan Cronin and Philip Browne punched well above their weight to make the quarter-finals. In the individual competition, Jason Devaney and Josh Boileau made it to the last 32.