Minority Report – Herald March 30

BADMINTON. A European team including Irish No 1 Scott Evans is currently playing the second round of matches for the Axiata Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia fighting to hold on to fourth place on the table. After last weekend’s opening round. Thailand has a one point lead over Indonesia with Malaysia one point behind again. The Europe Select and Asia Select teams are on equal points for fourth. In the opening round of matches, Europe beat Vietnam, and lost to Singapore, Asia and then in their final match to Malaysia. “It was always going to be tough and Team Europe put up a brilliant fight ,” said Scott Evans. “ I played a lot better against Malaysia but made too many unforced errors.”  In the second round of matches, Evans was taken to hospital with suspected appendicitis, but tried to play on. He is now in Australia, playing in the Australia Open.
Star of the team  was  Spain’s Carolina Marin who won all of her women’s singles matches over the two weekends. Also holding their own are British pair Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork, both of them officially retired. 
After  beating the Phillippines 4-0 on Friday, 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, who end up top of the table with 22 points, ahead of Malayisa, Thailand and Asia All-Stars. Europe finished 5th.
VOLLEYBALL: Although they have no national coach at the moment, an Irish men’s volleyball selection put up a brave battle against Northern Ireland in the annual St Patrick’s Day International held in Jordanstown last weekend.
Competing as the Irish Wolfhounds, the Irish squad was taking on a team that had beaten them in last year’s European Small Nations qualifier. They started in style with blistering attacks from new boys Richard Samiliov and Sergej Rodin and efficient blocking by Adrian Pinczurra helping them to a 25-22 victory in the opening set.
That proved a wake-up call for the North and after a switch in line-out, they pulled away midway through the set to win 25-19. A marathon third set proved critical and although the Wolfhounds had a four point lead early on, the North clawed their way back and finally closed out the set at 28-26. With the momentum on their side, they then rounded off the match with a 25-17 win in the fourth set.
Next match for ‘unofficial’ Ireland will be the annual end of season match against the VAI All-Stars in May.
TABLE TENNIS: Over 150 young table tennis players headed for the west of Ireland last weekend for the final junior ranking tournament before the Butterfly National Championships.
No big surprises in the U-17 boys’ competition, where top seed Ryan Farrell from Howth beat Glenburn’s Zak Wilson in straight sets. In a fiercely competitive U17 girls competition, Emma Ludlow of Glenbrun put out top seed Chloe O’Halloran from Leeside, while on the other side of the draw, Dubliner Katie McGlone beat Hannah-Lynch-Dawson of Fivemiletown, who made a big impression this season when she won the Munster Open earlier this year. In the final, Ludlow came out on top, beating McGlone for her first junior title of the season. Winning the cadet titles were Zak Wilson of Glenburn and Katie McGlone.
TRIATHLON: Eimear Mullan made a winning start to the new season when she won the Lanzarote Triathlon, completing the 1km swim, 60km cycle and 10km run in 2 hours 17 minutes. Last year, Mullan, who turned professional in 2011, became Ireland’s first ever Ironman champion when she won Ironman UK in Bolton. As amateur, Mullan won Irish sprint and Olympic distance titles.
HOCKEY: Despite the awful weather, summer is on the way and the winter sports are winding up. In hockey, the league season is almost over, with the UCD women and the Pembroke men confirmed as Leinster division 1 league champions last weekend. In the women’s league, Loreto finish second – just a point behind UCD – while Railway Union is third. Railway made it a cup double. They beat UCD to win the Irish Senior Cup title last weekend after taking the Jacqui Potter Leinster Cup title a week earlier when they beat Loreto.
In the men’s first division, Pembroke were clear winners, finishing five points ahead of Monkstown who beat them in the Irish Senior Cup final.

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