Minority Report – Herald September 8

BADMINTON: International ranking points are on offer to Irish badminton players at the inaugural  Irish U19 Open already underway in Baldoyle  – the first of three  ranking  events organised  by Badminton Ireland this season.

All eyes are on Sligo’s Jonathan Dolan, winner of the men’s singles title at the recent Bulgarian Junior Open and at last weekend’s Mount Pleasant Open in Dublin. His opponents include top seed Bruno Carvalho of Portugal, as well as locals Joshua Magee, Liam O’Leary and David Walsh. Carvalho pairs up with Daniel Clark from England in the doubles, and with Sonia Concalves in the mixed doubles.
Aimee Moran from Wales is No 1 in the women’s singles, with Lisburn’s Alannah Stephenson leading the Irish entry. In the doubles, Stephenson pairs up with 15-year-old Rachel Darragh.
* Watch all the matches on www.badmintonireland.com.
TUG OF WAR: The Mayo-based Lakehill club produced an outstanding display to win the world club 700kg competition at the World Tug of War Championships in  the Swiss village of Appenzel on Thursday. In all,  36 club teams from all over the world had entered the competition,  and in the final, the Mayo team  beat  defending world champions Heure from the Netherlands in  straight ends.   The entire Lakehill  team will now don  Irish jerseys for  today’s  world championships at the same weight (update:they won it!).  A top six finish is need to qualify for next summer’s world games in Cali, Colombia. Ireland also competes in tonight’s 580kg  competition (Sat) and  in  tomorrow’s blue riband  640kg where a place at the World Games is also at stake.  Last year, Ireland won both World Indoor and European  titles at the slightly heavier weight of 680kg. Included in that  team were four members of the Kehoe family from the fabled Boley club in Wexford. Among the 17 nations competing are Nigeria and the Congo as well as more established tug of war nations, such as England, Netherlands, South Africa, the USA and Taipei.
* Updates at www.irishtugofwar.com. 
SNOOKER:  Professional snooker player Fergal O’Brien put the Irish team through its paces  at a final training session in the Ivy Rooms, Carlow before this week’s Home Internationals.
Fergal O’Brien, Jim Leacy
 The competition, in Pontin’s north Wales until September 14,  includes senior, masters, Under 19 and Under 16 competitions. As well as Ireland, teams from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, France, and the Isle of Man compete.  A billiards championship is also scheduled.
With Irish coach PJ Nolan making a video of every session, O’Brien played practice frames against all the players and discussed the kind of tactics and safety shots that will come in useful over the next week. Rodney Goggins, Brendan O’Donoghue, Johnny Williams, Robert Redmond and Greg Casey make up the senior team.
HOCKEY: Ireland’s over 50 women finished a creditable fourth at the inaugural Hockey Masters World Cup in Canterbury, England last week. The team, captained by Helen Johnston of Railway Union, had the perfect start when they beat Wales 2-0 in their opener and despite losses to eventual champions England and to Australia, beat New Zealand  to make the semi-finals. There they faced  the Aussies again and despite a better effort, lost  0-3. Against the Kiwis for third place, only the width of a goalpost saw the Irish women losing 1-2. Irish player of the tournament was Maura O’Neill.
In the over 40 competition, the Irish team finished a valiant sixth, playing six matches in five days. Irish player of the tournament was Sinead Guilfoyle. Also competing were three men’s teams.
With Dublin hosting a European Open masters’ tournament next August, the hunt is on for men and women of all ages who may have played hockey in the past or would like to give the sport a go.  Also scheduled is an interprovincial tournament at the Prembroke Wanderers grounds in Dublin next April, so there’s lots happening.   
Interested? Contact Alison Pigot 086 8386020 or Helen Johnston 087 4191780.
TRIATHLON: Triathlete Bryan Keane, who smashed a leg in a horrific bike crash a few years ago, showed some of his old sparkle when finishing second in the European Cup race in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
In 2009, his first season on the international circuit, Keane had finished second in this race and, despite a poor startin a chaotic swim, made up ground on the cycle, skilfully negotiating cobbles and a steep hill.
By the time he started the run, Keane was only a minute down on the main group of five, and soon pulled up to second place. Finishing tenth was Conor Murphy, while 12th in the women’s race was Amy Wolfe.
Keane now competes in British Super Series race in Strathclyde before heading to Spain for training before the final ITU World Cup races of the season.
* Eimear Mullan finished second woman at Ironman70.3 Galway behind three-times Ironman France champion Tine Deckers. Piranha’s Jennifer Duffy finished third, while Brian McCrystal in 13th place was best of the Irish men. 

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