TEN PIN BOWLING: More than 150 bowlers from 12 countries arrive in Dublin next week to celebrate both the 25th Irish Open Tenpin Bowling Championships at Leisureplex, Stillorgan and 50 years of ten pin bowling in Ireland.
Thanks to a generous sponsorship deal with Storm Bowling Products, a prize fund of €17,500 is on offer with €4,000 going to the overall winner.
Leading the home challenge are current Irish champions Hannah Cullen and Barry Foley. Both are in good form, with Cullen, runner-up for the past two years, setting an Irish record of 2072 when she won the Irish title last February.
Kerena Dykes from Tallaght, winner of the women’s title in both 2007 and 2009 is also entered, as is Paul Stott who, in 2011, became the the only Irish player to win a European Tour title.
Among the international players taking them on is a large group from Norway, including former European champion Tore Torgersen, who won at Stillorgan in 1996. From closer to home, the 2003 Irish Open winner Paul Evans from England and the 2006 women’s winner Laura Rhoney from Scotland have both entered.
With standards improving all the time, last year’s Irish Open proved the most memorable yet with a staggering seven perfect games of 300 – twelve strikes in a row. Play starts next Thursday January 17 (2.30pm) and continues
with a series of elimination rounds until Sunday’s grand finals (2.30pm). Spectators are welcome at any time.
SWIMMING: Top Irish long distance swimmer Ned Denison has become only the fifth person to swim the shark infested waters of False Bay in South Africa. To keep them at a safe distance, Denison was escorted by three boats on the 35km crossing. He finished in 11 hours 5 minutes, and although the going got choppy, picked up speed in the final three kilometres.
A few weeks earlier, a group of four Irish swimmers headed for the Russian Winter Swimming Championships in Tyumen, Siberia. Only togs and goggles are allowed in this extreme form of swimming where all competitors undergo an on-the-spot medical check before they plunge into the freezing pool, cut with a chainsaw from the ice. Braving an air temperature of -21 degrees on the opening day of competition, Anne Marie Ward finished 5th and Nuala Moore 6th in the women’s 50m. A day later, Moore was third in her age group in the 150m, while Padraig Mallon was third in the men’s 300m. Mallon is aiming to hold an Irish winter swimming festival at Camlough Lake later this year so that everyone can experience the exhilaration of swimming in winter conditions.
BADMINTON: Thanks to a record entry, play in the men’s singles for the Leinster Badminton Open at Whitehall Road, Dublin next weekend starts on Friday January 16, with a qualifying tournament also taking place. Among the entries are Scott Burnside, beaten in the final by Tony Stephenson last year, and junior international Joshua Magee. Alannah Stephenson, winner of the women’s title last year at the age of 15,is back to defend her title.
*At last weekend’s Ulster Grade A tournament in Lisburn, Tony Murphy beat Conor Hickland in the men’s final, with Murphy and Hickland taking the doubles. Fionnuala McCourt won the women’s singles.
HOCKEY: A nine-day training camp in Valencia Spain will give newly installed Irish women’s hockey coach Darren Smith a first chance to see his squad in action before the FIH World League 11 taking place next month at the same venue.
Smith arrives in Ireland on January 25 having picked his squad of 22 while still in his native New Zealand. Of the 22, 17 play their club hockey in Leinster, with seven coming from UCD alone. All but one of the squad of 18 who took a bronze medal at the FIH Champion Challenge I in Dublin last September are recalled, as are Emma Clarke, Nicci Daly, Cliodhna Sargent and Shirley McCay who were unavailable last September.
WINDSURFING: The Irish windsurfing world is in shock this week after the sudden death of its rising star, 22-year-old Mikey Clancy. Clancy, from Raheny in Dublin, began windsurfing at the age of 16 and quickly rose through the ranks. He specialised in the thrilling discipline of wave riding and after becoming Irish champion, attracted much attention when he joined the international tour. After a year out with a serious ankle injury, Clancy was back in top form over the past few months, finishing 13th at the Cold Water Hawaii Classic in Denmark last October and looking forward to the 2013 season. To his parents Michael and Bernie and his brother Sean goes our heartfelt sympathy.