SQUASH: Former world No 7 Derek Ryan took his ninth men’s singles title after a thrilling showdown with defending champion Arthur Gaskin at squash’s National Championships in Fitzwilliam LTC, Dublin.
In the marathon 1 hour 43 minute final, Ryan drew first blood when he won the opening game 11-3 although every point was closely fought. In the second, Gaskin had the advantage, winning 11-4 and drawing level. The younger man, who won his first tour title earlier this year, was playing a hard hitting game attempting to wear down the 43-year old Ryan. Drawing on all his vast experience, Ryan continued to play a steady and accurate game winning the third game and holding his own nerve, even when Gaskin again drew level by taking the fourth.
So it came down to the tie-breaking fifth game, with the momentum continued to switch between the two players before Ryan grabbed the two points he needed for victory. His win came eight years after his previous victory and puts him second on the all-time list behind Willie Hosey from Carlow who has 10 national titles to his credit.
In the women’s final, Breanne Flynn beat Griffin Gillanders in a close 3-1 decider.
Absent this year were Madeline Perry and Aisling Blake who were competing in the Women’s World Championships in the Cayman Islands. Perry, now a veteran of the tour, had a good tournament, beating Egyptian pair Nour el Tayeb and Nour el Sherbini to qualify for the quarter finals. There she came up against world No 1 Nicole David of Malaysia, losing in four sets. Blake went out in the first round to No 2 seed Raneen el Weleily of Egypt also in a four-setter. BADMINTON: Ireland’s Chloe Magee finished off her year in style when she won the women’s singles title at the Turkish open in Istanbul. Magee qualified for the final when she beat Stafani Stoeva of Bulgaria and then got the better of top seed Sashina Vignes Waran in a tough two-setter to take the title. Magee then paired up with brother Sam to win the mixed doubles with a comfortable victory over German pair Fabian Roth and Jennifer Karnott. Toughest test for the pair came in the quarter-finals when they dropped the opening set in their match against Magnus Sahlberg and Cecilia Bjuner of Sweden. SNOOKER: Josh Boileau, currently No 2 on the senior men’s rankings, leads the entry for today’s RIBSA Cue School U19 tournament (Sat) hosted by his club Newbridge CYMS. Players are divided into four groups of five with the top three from each group qualifying to the knock-out stages. Taking place during the tournament is the draw for the Leinster Club Championships scheduled to take place on January 5/6 in the Ivy Rooms, Carlow. The top three clubs qualify for the All-Ireland Championships in Killarney in February. Leinster club Celbridge are defending champions.
ADVENTURE: Open water swimmer Stephen Redmond was named sportsperson of the year at the Outsider of the Year awards in Dublin, promoted by Outsider magazine. In 2012, Redmond became the first person in the world to complete swimming’s “Seven Sevens” – the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland, the English Channel, the Strait of Gibraltar, the Cook Strait in New Zealand, the Catalina Channel in the USA, the Tsugaru Channel in Japan and the Molok’I Channel.
Winning the Most Inspiring Person award was Mark Pollock,originally an international class rower, who went blind at the age of 22. In the years that followed, he raced to the South Pole, ran the Gobi Desert and Tenzing Hillary Everest marathons, and completed the Round Ireland yacht race all in two-man team. In 2010, Pollock was paralysed after falling from second-storey window in a freak accident. Now he uses a hand-bike to help keep fit and next March, heads to Siberia to will take part in the Black Ice Race on Lake Baikal.
Breakthrough Performance of the Year went to Susie Mitchell who started track cycling in July 2011. Last October, Just five months after having a baby, she won the W35 individual pursuit title at the World Track Masters championship.
TREE TOSSING: Ennis in Co Clare hosts the second Irish Christmas Tree Tossing Championships at Lee’s Road on January 5. Competitors must attempt to toss a standard 1.5m tree as far as they can. Last year, Paul Dignam from Co Clare threw his tree 7m to beat and entry of 150. The world record of 12m is held by Klaus Pubnaz. All the trees are mulched after the competition with any funds raised going to the Clare branch of Cystic Fibrosis.