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News Archive 2000-2003

Results & Connacht News

Eating Peaches in Ballina
Ballina TTCTTIreland has learned that the Ballina girls coach is doing his own thing again. You probably have heard of the Irish film; EAT THE PEACH? Of two gentlemen in the midlands of the country who are very enthusiastic and have a dream to build a wall shaped as a dome to cater for two motor cycles travelling at high speed it was to be callded the Wall Of Death. You may ask yourself what in earth has this got to do with table tennis? And like that the highly regarded girls coach in the country to his FRIENDS; Eamon; sat about to build his own hall, well that part of the story has being completed with 4 tables and a fully equipped gym up stairs.

Eamon tells me the hall is an attempt to assert IDENTITY and to express INDIVIDUALITY. It is about a search for a sense of FREEDOM and RESILIENT COURAGE as we confront the obstacles put in front of our members. To build on what we have had to achieve and to where our dreams are to succeed we will face our demons AND TRIUMPH.

Talking to Eamon he has informed me that the hall is up and running opened to their club players 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

"We need to up our training intensity as a club if we are to compete aboard. It is not just enough for our club players to compete aboard; we want to do well as a club and to be there or there about, in the medals. If it takes building a facility to cater for those dreams of the players, so be it."

Special Olympics in Ballina
More and more main stream players and coaches are getting involved with Special Olympics. TSP Sponsored whizz kid Chloe Nealon takes a little time off her busy training programe to help develop tt skill's with Ballina's Special Olympics athlete's.

The O'DonnellsVivre France Cousins Irish Junior no-1 Ciara O'Donnell and team mate Aileen O'Donnell travelled to the south of France last Thursday to sign for club Montpellier. Their first team match is on Sunday 9th. They will play in France for a year. Both girls will have team-mates in Jenny O'Donnell, Susan Nealon, and Chloe Nealon travel out shortly to train.

Valdner and de lads
A lost tourist insisted on the ballina boys having a photograph taken with him after he noticed the connaught senior close tt champion!! Kevin Devaney!

Junior Interpros Ballina GirlsBallina TT take on the country at the national junior Interpros.
The Ballina based club represented Connaught at the championships in all the girls age groups taking gold ,silver and bronze this for a province that only 2 years ago a bronze or 4th place was the accepted, how things are changing. The club were bidding for 2 gold but had to except the above result still an heroic achievement for the club, and are hoping next season with the foreign policy introduced the club will be looking for their own non nationalists to represent Connaught

A question, can anyone answer please? Do the ITTA have an official flag of their own because I would like to purchase one, just that I hear that the tricolour was not aloud on display at the 6 nations. I thought representing Ireland your colours are green ,white and gold, it seems others think not.

Disquiet on the Western Front by Eamon Nealon
Ballina TT are outraged at the decision of the selectors not even to consider any of its cub players for selection on either junior or senior b, British League teams. It was addressed at a meeting in the club on Friday night last.

The club would like to know how come a player in Ciara O'Donnell winning both the Ulster and Irish Nationals sits at home, while players she beats are given the experience abroad. As in the case of Nealon and O'Donnell ranked 2-3 cadets these decision effects morale and future motivation of players especially when a certain player has never achieved a no-1status and is selected.

Is the association saying you don't have to perform or be ranked high, or even compete at rankings or attend the junior Top 12, are they saying we will picked because we like your style, and who you represent?

Will you please excuse the club when we don't attend the junior Top 8 in our resentment of the above matter? Further decisions for the players to compete in the Interpros and national events next season that will also be brought into question.

PS. The club is not asking for much just an equal and fair opportunity for the hours of practice and their performances and just maybe we might play blindfolded so as to get the selectors to stand up and see them. You know it's a long road.

Susan NealonWest of Scotland Success by Eamon Nealon
Susan Nealon just added another title to her many of the season when she took the Scottish west open minor event beating sister Chloe 3-0. Susan also contested the u-15 final only to be beaten 3-2 by C.Whitaker (Scot) But the story of the day in the girls event would have to go to 10 year old Chloe and her coach Denis McDonagh, who knock out the pre favourite and Scottish No.1 Rebecca Russell comfortable 3-1 in the quarter finals of the U15 event. Chloe was unfortunate to meet the on form Susan in the semi. Chloe and Fiona Dennett finishing joint 3rd

Top Award for Top player
Susan Nealon one of Irelands top under age table tennis athlete has had some exciting news handed to her on Christmas Eve. She is to be awarded one of the 15 Ulster Bank Mayo sports awards, for recording excellence in performance in her sport in 2004.

With thousands of entries covering all sporting achievements from GAA, soccer boxing athletics etc, posted to the Western People, Connaught's no 1 news paper. So impossible to be a winner of such an award it would be like pulling hens teeth, you could almost go as far as saying their like an Oscar.

This is the clubs 2nd time being awarded a sports award with Jenny O'Donnell receiving one in 2002. Susan will be receiving her award at a banquet dinner dance with 700 hundred people in attendance on the 25th of Feb 2005. She will no-doubt be the youngest recipient on the night.

Congratulations Susan wishing you all the best from your family, club and friends

Community Games Champions 2004, Co. MayoCommunity Games Champions 2004, Ballina Co. Mayo

Ballina Girls on Top Form by Eamon Nealon
Susan NealonSusan Nealon added yet another title to her list of many through out the year when she comfortably took the minor Ulster Junior Open in Belfast last week, sister Chloe and Susan contested the final with Susan been victorious, Susan was also unlucky not to take a second title on the day when she reached the cadet final losing to Fiona Dennett of England, leading up to the final the Ballina star picked up an knee injury sustained in her 3-0 win over Clare Nelson in the early stages of the tournament. With a strapping applied the Ballina player was hampered with pain but like a through professional continued into the event knocking out seeds D Douglas, and team mate J.O'Donnell before meeting the much informed F.Dennett congrats to Fiona from the club. Jenny O'Donnell struggling with form and playing with a new and interesting Chinese rubbers finished in 3rd place taking the bronze meddle.

The biggest surprise on the day was when the not seeded player Ciara O'Donnell knocked out and beat seeded players C.Nelson, J.O'Donell and F.Mernagh to reach the finals of the junior competition; a first for the club] where she faced a tough opponent in Emma Jane Helen of Munster notably one of the most consistent players in Irish TT not finishing outside the top 6 nationally over the past 3 years, This was also her first final. The final was always going to be a battle of nerves with some excellent table tennis been played by both players it was the Ballina athlete that claimed the Ulster title with her defensive style game. Congrats to both girls. A question for thought; neither girls have been asked to the national training camp at the start of the season and if I'm not mistaking the Munster player has only being called upon to play a Junior British league match once in 2 years considering her track record nationally over 3 years. Maybe one can understand the fall out of girls in Irish TT when selectors are putting their hopes and eggs in the one basket

Performance committee missing the points? by Eamon Nealon
The decision by the performance committee to award only 400 points for winning the remainder of the ranking tournaments is by all means a farce. Seeded players from last season, for some unfortunate reason that could not attend the first ranking, will have to settle with not only not being seeded but not seeded for the Irish nationals. Leaving a situation with top individuals knocking out seeded players in the early stages of events, instead of them meeting at quarter finals, as happened at the Ulster Junior Open, with seeded competitors going out in the early stages.

As an example neither Susan nor Chloe Nealon will be seeded for any ranking events as with the case of J.A.Forbes who happened to be injured for the first ranking event. But then if they compete in England or Scotland there given a dummy ranking as with the case of Susan and Chloe with a 1 and 3 rating.

If the above mentioned is a problem, well the most wrong doing in my opinion was the decision by Gilbert Graham and the performance committee to introduce the new system of the ranking while into the season. If clubs were notified of a change in a new ranking system at the start of the season, just maybe then players might have travelled to the first tournament. Then again what do you expect, next time please try and advise clubs well in advance of changes, and how the above rule came into being during the season I just don't know, well done on your decision making. Eamon Nealon

Web comment: Owen Kelly
I don't think all the rankings will have reduced points, but that is only a guess, I've heard nothing more myself before or during the season. As you say why didn't we use dummy rankings? In Junior Girls we could be faced with both the previous ranking winners S. Kazimagomedova and Ciara O'Donnell unseeded for the Nationals! If you include the possibility of Elizabeth Dennett current Irish Senior No.4 entering the equation also unseeded, it all looks a mess to me. Who came up with this idea and who did they talk to about it?

However I don't think it will effect the likes of Susan Nealon at U12 but I do feel sorry for the likes of Isobel Farrelly and Sarah Byrne finding the Nealon sisters in their groups! Especially when they ended up coming second and being drawn against the No.1 and No.2 seeds. As a note what if it had been Judith or Rebecca going out in the last 16, does anyone care about the development of these young players? The system is supposed to be athlete led not system led, the system should be for the benefit of the players and not seeding proven top players effects all the athletes. As a coach this might act in my favour this time but it might be against me next time, please lets get sensible and provide a fair and level playing field for the benefit of everyone involved.

Scottish Silver for Ballina
Ballina Table Tennis Club almost did not travel to the Stockton on-Tees Junior Open or the Scottish North Open last weekend with one of their top players Susan Nealon pulling out of the Fermanagh Open, where the club managed to take 4 out of 4 titles a week before Susan was suffering with a upper thigh injury and struggling with a flu bug.

The club decided to take the risk and send both Nealon sisters out to the events the girls did not disappoint, both Susan and Chloe played exceptionally well, being the youngest pairing in the cadets team event both girls against all odds knocked out Scotland internationals R.Milne/J.McBeth in 3-0 and reached their first team final where they almost shocked the English pairing only to be beaten 3-1 with all sets contested to 5

The girls were quiet jubilant with silver, Susan also contested the minor final and on her form had to settle for second best on the day beaten narrowly in the 5th set by M.Fuller. An excellent result for Susan putting out the English no-5 in the cadets and Chloe's win over 14 year old international R. Milne of Scotland. The following day both girls contested the North of Scotland minor final with Susan also finishing r-up in the cadet final. Coaches at the club are delighted with the clubs recent results

Opem Letter from Pat Keegan
Re position of Connacht Representative on the Marketing Committee of The Irish Table Tennis Association.

Please have a look at attached letter of resignation from the ITTA Marketting committee. I have posted copies to Cliff Rowe and Tony Martin. I feel there is an urgent need for change and people like yourself and Richard Butler must be re instated rather than the present puppet regime. Perhaps you would air this letter on you excellent site which is the only free and uncensored coverage of Irish Table Tennis. I expect the powers that be will bin the letter but I wish to make public my reasons for resigning.

I wish to clarify my position as regards the above post. In July of this year I received a telephone call from the Chairman of The Connacht Table Tennis Association Mr.Cliff Rowe who asked me to consider being the Connacht representative on the Marketing Committee, which was being formed as part of the new Strategic Plan. I informed Mr.Rowe that I would consider the position if and when I received further details of it. However as one has come to expect in Irish Table Tennis no further details were forthcoming. I was left to learn from Owen Kelly's website of the official launch of The Strategic Plan etc but I still received no information as to what was involved.

Rather than abruptly say no I decided to await further developments, hoping that perhaps we were possibly heading into an era of positive changes within Irish Table Tennis. Unfortunately things have not improved and it is my opinion that we are in a crisis situation where to quote from Richard Butlers superb analysis of the current state of Irish Table Tennis we have " A situation where many players seniors and juniors and volunteers, are disaffected, disillusioned, demotivated or have just given up because they cannot or will not work within what is clearly an unprofessional and inadequate set up with unprofessional and inadequate people"

I cannot lend my name and effort to an association which operates as a dictatorship and which is killing interest and participation in the game. We have a farcical coaching programme with little or nothing to offer the average player. The Provincial training camps are (if the ones I have seen in Connacht are anything to go by) nothing short of farce to say the least, other than the one such event organised and run by our own Terry Dolan who put time and effort into developing the skills of all present. Terry Dolan coaches with the same passion that has kept him at the top for so long and does not just half-heartedly fulfil the fixture. I have spoken to many people and have yet to find anyone who feels that these training camps are fulfilling their potential. However I would like to point out that not all of the blame lies with our National Coach who has inherited a seriously defective structure.

The current ranking points system is seriously flawed and does nothing to encourage participation in our open events. It is a matter of fact that respected senior players are now convinced that there is more to lose than to gain by participating in these events which after all represent the best opportunity to promote the development of the game. The system may well suit the top 7 or 8 senior players but does nothing to encourage participation of the rest. This combined with the restriction being applied, which stipulates that players can only participate in 2 singles events, is doing nothing to encourage more people to play the game. The Association is neglecting its grassroots players and its little wonder that it has become more and more difficult to find clubs and teams for leagues etc. It is therefore not surprising to find that more of our players are travelling to the UK to participate, as there is little or nothing on offer to anyone outside the top players at our home events. This situation may well suit the vested interests of some of our officials but it is certainly not promoting and developing the game across the country. Where are some of the most hardworking individuals in Irish Table Tennis gone i.e., Ted Bollard, Richard Butler, Ollie Adamson to name but a few. Its time for change in Irish Table Tennis all right, time to stand up and not be dictated to.

I for one cannot lend credence to this farcical situation, which is rapidly detiorating, and I therefore cannot act as Marketing Representative for Connacht. I feel that there is a crisis in Connacht and in Irish Table Tennis and it is my belief that the present incumbents at National level will do nothing other than protect and promote their own vested interests.

Yours in sport,
Pat Keegan

Just for the record Michael Healy ITTA Director of Marketing
- I sent a mail to Pat on 8th Sept introducing myself and the Marketing team
- I sent a mail to Pat on 10th Sept with draft of Marketing Plan for input from all team members
- I sent a mail on 27th Sept to set up a meeting to discuss Plan
- I rang Pat on the day before the meeting of 13/10/04 - to confirm if he was attending, where he outlined the views expressed in letter.
- I have copied Pat on all mails I have sent since 8/9, and there were many

So how can Pat say - "However as one has come to expect in Irish Table Tennis no further details were forthcoming"

The North of Scotland
The U13 Girls final was an all Ireland affair with the Ballina Girls fighting it out for the top spot, Miss "Funny Bat" won this time! Susan Nealon beat Chloe Nealon 3/0. Susan Nealon picked up a second place as a beaten finalist in the U15s.

Ballina Girls light up Blackpool
There was another successful weekend for the club of Ballina in the Blackpool Table Tennis Junior 4 star Open Championships, held in the Blackpool Sports Centre. On Friday the girls were entertained and had plenty of fun at the Blackpool Pleasure Beach Resort before attending the tournament the following day. The tournament had attracted a large entry from all over England and Scotland.

3 Ballina Junior players, Ciara O'Donnell, Susan Nealon & Chloe Nealon, opted out of the 1st Irish Junior ranking in search of a higher standardabroad and were vindicated in their decision returning from Blackpool with 3 gold medals and their reputation very much enhanced.

Both senior coaches at the Ballina Club, Dennis McDonagh and Eamonn Nealon, prepared the girls well and researched their chances well in Blackpool before making the decision to have all 3 girls compete in Blackpool and withdrew them out of the Leinster Junior Open.

In the U13 event both Nealon sisters held up proceedings in the U11's as no-one had expected Chloe, the young 10 year old maestro, to reach the semi finals, where she was unfortunate to meet her sister Susan!. Susan won the clash and easily overpowered Mary Fuller, England's No.1, in a 3-0 victory.

With the U11's event up and running the English organisers were left in no doubt that the Irish duo were going to take a second title and with the help of her coach, Dennis McDonagh, Chloe eased comfortably in the competition to take gold No2.

If the travelling party that travelled abroad to the event hadn't enough to cheer about Susan added yet another title in the U15 Band Singles, where she beat Jenny McBeth from Scotland, in 3 sets.

Ciara O'Donnell, also competing in the U17's in both band and singles, had a much tougher task with the quality and speed of the Juniors, she still put in some fine wins and performances.

Annual General Meeting
The Connacht Branch of the Irish Table Tennis Association will hold it's Annual General Meeting on Monday next 13 September 2004 at 8p.m. in the Commercial Boat Club, Woodquay, Galway. All Connacht's table tennis committees, players, coaches, parents and teachers are welcome to attend. Recently the ITTA launched it's Strategic plan for 2004-2007. Mr. Cliff Rowe was appointed Director Connacht, Terry Dolan, Galway and Eamon Nealon, Mayo are the Connacht Coaches, Pat Keegan, Athlone is Connacht's Marketing Director and Kariem Sabir, Athlone is Connacht's Veteran Director.

Disquiet on the Western Front
Ballina T.T C players of Susan Nealon, Chloe Nealon, Ciara O'Donnell, will not be competing in the Leinster Junior ranking on the 2nd-3rd October. Eamon Nealon coach, has opted instead to send the club players to compete in the Blackpool 4star grand prix on the above dates Eamon has also concerns of the ridiculous date of Jan. 1st new years day to hold the Irish Junior Championships. Had those involved any consideration for players, coaches, parents travelling 150 miles on New Years Eve and bringing in the new year in a b+b.....There goes the New Year with the family

Ballina Girls at Schools InternationalBallina Girls at the Schools International, Limerick
Left to Right Ciara O'Donnell ,Jenny and Ailleen O'Donnell, Susan Nealon

McCarron and Reynolds win Team Gold in Lasko, Slovenia.
Ireland sent a small team to this first International Slovenian Table Tennis Open. The team was comprised of Rena McCarron, Commercial Boat Club Galway, Kathleen Reynolds, (Dublin) and coaches Johnny Bridgeman and Marie Hughes,(Dublin). This was a competitive tournament with athletes competing from: France, Mexico, Serbia & Montenegro, England, Wales, Croatia, Sweden, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria, Spain, Italy to name but some.

Both McCarron and Reynolds played well in the Open Event having notable wins. They both got a tough draw in the singles but were pleased with their results.

It was however in the Team Event that they excelled themselves and performed above expectations. For their first match their opponents were a combined England/Italy team. Ireland won this with McCarron winning the crucial 5th match.

Their next match was against the Czech Republic. The Irish duo won this 3-0. They then played Spain and again won 3-0.

They qualified for the final where they would encounter France, the current World and European Champions. This was a tight match which went all the way. McCarron lost 3-1 to Marriage (the current world No 1), Reynolds defeated Clot, the Irish couple won the doubles, Reynolds lost to Marriage and once again the pressure was on McCarron going in to play the 5th and deciding match. This match went all the way to the 5th set. McCarron held her nerve to win 11-7 and claim the gold medal, having defeated European and World Champions in the process.

This is the same Irish Team who won Bronze in the European Championships. The Irish Team will travel to compete in Germany at the end of May.

Table Tennis News 09/05/04
Connacht Senior Close 2004 Results
The Men's Title was won by Sean Spelman, Galway who beat Kieran Burke, Athlone 9/11, 11/9, 11/2 and 11/2. The Ladies Title was won by Helen Dolan who beat Orla Folan 11/7, 14/16, 11/4 and 11/5. The Grade B Title was won by Mike Finnerty, Galway who beat Aodan O'Cuimin 11/5, 12/10 and 12/10. The Veteran's Singles title was won by Kieran Burke Athlone won beat Terry Dolan Galway 11/9, 8/11, 8/11, 11/6 and 12/10. The Doubles was won by Sean Spelman Galway with Kieran Burke Athlone who beat Terry Dolan and Robbie Gavin, Galway 10/12, 11/7, 11/6 and 11/9.

Galway Division 1 League Results.
Evergreens Rena McCarron and Jim Borge beat Dolphins Jean Hughes and Lorna Griffin 4/1. Alligators Ronan Rooney and Shane Folan beat Dolphins Jean Hughes and Lorna Griffin 3/2. Galway Handicap Cup Results.

Crown Defenders Martin Folan and Donal Tarpey beat Crown Freshmen Mike Finnerty and Pa Lowry 185 points to 180 points. Alligators Ronan Rooney and Shane Folan beat Crown Defenders Martin Folan and Donal Tarpey 170 points to 130 points.

In the Commercial Boat Club the Coffey Cup was won by Martin Folan and Alex Vaniouchine who beat Des Folan and Frank Dolan in the Novelty Doubles. Connacht Division 1 League Result

The Galway B team of [Non Playing Captain] Teresa Egan, Helen Dolan, Mike Finnerty and Pa Lowry beat the Ballina team of [Non Playing Captain] Denis McDonagh, Aileen O'Donnell, Jenny O'Donnell and Chloe Nealon 8/2.

The season is nearly over and all that is left is the Finals of the Connacht Division 1 Leagues, Galway Division 1 and Premier Leagues and the Handicap Cup. Dates for the A.G.M.s of the Galway and Connacht Branch Committees are still to be announced.

Table Tennis News 30/04/04
The Connacht Senior Close Table Tennis Championships will be held in the Commercial Boat Club, Galway on Saturday 8 May 2004. The U21 Men's Singles will be at 9.30a.m., Grade B Singles at 10.30a.m., Men's and Ladies Singles at 12 noon, Veteran Singles and Doubles at 2p.m. Closing date for entries to Mr. Cliff Rowe is Tuesday 4 May 2004

Thank you and well done to all our Connacht junior players who travelled and played so well at the All Ireland Junior Interprovincial Table Tennis Championships in Cork last weekend. This was the first time for a number of years that Connacht had so many teams at the Junior Interprovincials.

Congratulations to the Connacht U12 Girls team of Susan Nealon, Jeannie O'Donnell, Chloe Nealon and Catriona Egan, Ballina, Co. Mayo. who won Gold in the Girls U12s Championships.

Though the Connacht U14 Girls team of Sarah Timlin Ballina, Co. Mayo, Karen Hodgins and Laurna Taylor Sligo came fourth they had great individual wins notably Karen Hodgins who beat the Irish No. 7 Julie Anne Forbes from Leinster. Though the boys were fourth in the different age categories they played well and had some great individual wins. Aodan O Cuimin St. Mary's College Galway beat Killian Healy, Munster.

The Connacht U12 Boys team of Colin Morley and Oisin Molloy St. Mary's College Galway, Evan Duffy St. Patrick's National School Galway and Benen Harrington St. Joseph's Patrician College Galway.

The Connacht U14 Boys team of Andrew Carroll St. Mary's College Galway, Bryan Lalor St. Joseph's Patrician College Galway, Michael Curran and Darren Jordan St. Mary's College Galway.

The Connacht U17 Boys team of Aodan O Cuimin and Stephen Killoran and David King St. Mary's College Galway, Michael McDonnell, Ballina, Co. Mayo.This was a great learning experience for the Connacht players as this was the first time that some of them represented their province.

These are young teams and will be a force to be reckoned with in the future as they develop their skills. They all have great potential and great skills and are a great credit to their coaches Eamon Nealon. Mayo, Seamus O'Mairtin, St. Mary's College, Galway, John O'Keeffe, St. Joseph's Patrician College Galway and Terry Dolan Galway Coach and Chairman of the Galway Table Tennis Committee.

Best wishes to the Connacht Junior teams who will represent Connacht at the Junior Interprovincials Table Tennis Championships next weekend 24/4/04 in Cork.

The Connacht U12 Boys are Colin Morley and Oisin Molloy St. Mary's College Galway, Evan Duffy St. Patrick's National School Galway and Benen Harrington St. Joseph's Patrician College Galway.

The Connacht U14 Boys are Andrew Carroll St. Mary's College Galway, Bryan Lalor St. Joseph's Patrician College Galway, Michael Curran and Darren Jordan St. Mary's College Galway.

The Connacht U17 Boys are Aodan O Cuimin and Stephen Killoran and David King St. Mary's College Galway, Michael McDonnell, Ballina, Co. Mayo.

The Connacht U12 Girls team are Susan Nealon, Jeannie O'Donnell, Cloe Nealon and Catriona Egan, Ballina, Co. Mayo.

The Connacht U14 Girls team are Sarah Timlin Ballina, Co. Mayo, Karen Hodgins and Laurna Taylor Sligo.

Correction - The results of the recent draw were 1st Prize 100Euro to Ms. Yvonne Hession, Murphy & Sons, Castle St., Sligo. Seller: Jamie Grehan, Sligo 2nd Prize 75Euro to T. Diviney, 19 Elm Park Rd., Greenfields, Newcastle, Galway. Seller: Anthony Cullina, St. Pats Boys N.S. and 3rd Prize 50Euro Mr. Paul Hynes, 10 Emmett Ave., Mervue, Galway. Seller: David King, St. Marys College.

Connaught Team/Club Championship of 25 March 2004
The inaugural Special Olympics Connaught Club Championship was held in the Commercial Boat Club, Galway on 25 March 2004. Teams from Rehab Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim; St. Anthony's Castlebar, Co. Mayo; St. Michaels Castlerea, Co. Roscommon and Celtic Table Tennis Club, Co. Mayo took part.

In the first match St. Anthony's took on Rehab Ballinamore, with their Capt. Kevin Gilhooly, who was undefeated in the last Area Games. This proved to be a very close and exciting match, with the result decided by individual skills. St. Anthony's Joseph Stack beat Ballinamore's Peter Green 11/6, 11/6 and 11/5. Kevin Gilhooly, Ballinamore beat Paul Kavanagh, St. Anthony's 11/9, 11/5, 9/11 and 11/7. Kevin Gilhooly, Ballinamore beat Joseph Stack, St. Anthony's 11/6, 11/9 and 11/8. St. Anthony's Capt. Paul McEllin beat Peter Green, Ballinamore 11/6, 11/5 and 11/2. Grace O'Malley scored a very high total of 141 in the Individual Skills to beat Angela McCrann, Joseph Guckian beat Michele Finerty to get two points back for Ballinamore. The final result hinged on the fact that Paul Kavanagh had earlier taken a game off Kevin Gilhooly. Final score - St. Anthony's 9 points and Rehab, Ballinamore 8 points.

In the other semi-final Celtic Table Tennis Club met St. Michael's Castlerea. St. Michael's had a new young team and were up against it with the more experienced team of World Games Bronze Medallist Noel Lydon and European Bronze Medallist Brid Walsh, assisted by talented Individual Skills players Noel Brennan and Kiera Joyce. The St. Michaels team of Peter Dolan, Jim Reynolds, Patrick Hatter. Simon Lambert and Martina O'Reilly tried their best, and the experience will stand to their good in future Games. Credit to Bernie and Bernadette for having the team looking great in their school colours.

In the 3rd/4th place play-off Ballinamore came through against St. Michael's. Kevin did not drop a game and is a very talented player, strongly backed up by other team members Peter Green, Angela McCrann, and Joseph Guckian.

The Final was always going to be a close encounter with two teams who train together. The first match up caused an upset when Joseph Stack, St. Anthony's beat the Celtic No. 1 Noel Lydon 11/9, 11/8, 8/11 and 11/6. This was just the start St. Anthony's wanted. The next match went to five sets between Brid Walsh and Paul Kavanagh. This match swung back and forth, with some good attacking play from Brid and Paul using the angles very well. Eventually Brid won 11/8, 9/11, 11/9, 6/11 and 11/7.

The score at this stage was St. Anthony's 5 - Celtic 4. The next match was another 5-setter, with the defensive skills of Noel Lydon wearing down the constant forehand attack of Paul McEllin 11/9, 8/11, 11/9, 7/11 and 11/5. It was then the turn of the two captains, Paul McEllin and Brid Walsh. Brid, now playing very well, won this match 3 -1 - 7/11, 11/8, 11/9 and 11/5.

The match was now down to Individual Skills, with a very close match up between Noel Brennan and Grace O'Malley. Noel proved very consistent through all the skills and scored 142 to Grace's 130. It must be noted that Grace now holds the record for the most racket bounce in Individual Skills, with 162 to a minute, which will prove very hard to beat in the future. In the final match of the Individual Skills, Kiera Joyce for Celtic had a very close 130 to Michelle Finerty St. Anthony's 118 win.

So it ended with Celtic coming through but it could have gone either way at any stage, with the final score: Celtic Table Tennis Club 14 - St. Michael's School Castlerea 8 points. Afterwards Teresa Egan Connacht Table Tennis PRO presented the medals to the teams.

I would especially like to thank the umpires for the day: Tom Kavanagh Coach St. Michael's; Marion Lydon Celtic Coach; also Connacht U21 star captain Denis McDonagh, Ballina and Irish U14 International Aileen O'Donnell, Ballina for their assistance with the event. Finally I'd like to thank Teresa and the Commercial Boat Club, Galway for the use of the facility.
Congratulations to all the teams and keep up the good work.

Kevin Devaney
Connaught Special Olympic Table Tennis Co-coordinator

The Connacht Close Junior Table Tennis Championships
The Connacht Close Junior Table Tennis Championships was held in the Commercial Boat Club, Galway. In the Boys U12s semi-finals Benen Harrington beat Niall O'Keeffe 3/0 and Colin Morley beat Oisin Molloy 3/1. In the Final Benen Harrington, St. Joseph's Patrician College Galway beat Colin Morley St. Mary's College, Galway 11/7, 5/11, 12/10 and 11/8. In the 3rd and 4th play-off Niall O'Keeffe beat Oisin Molloy for 3rd place.

In the Boys U14s semi-finals Andrew Carroll beat Darren Jordan and Brian Lawlor beat John Murray.In the final Andrew Carroll, St. Mary's College, Galway beat Brian Lawlor, St. Joseph's Patrician College, Galway in a closely fought 5-setter 6/11, 11/7, 9/11, 13/11 and 11/9. Darren Jordan beat John Murray 3/0 in the 3rd and 4th play-off.

The U17 Boys semi-finalists were all St. Mary's College with Aodain O'Cuimin who beat Christopher Carroll 11/6, 11/7 and 11/8 and Stephen Killoran who beat David King 11/6, 12/10 and 11/5. In the Final Aodain O'Cuimin beat Stephen Killoran 11/4, 11/5 and 11/8. In the play-off for 3rd and 4th David King beat Christopher Carroll 7/11, 10/12, 11/7, 11/6 and 11/8. In the play-off for 5th and 6th John Waldron beat Fergal Mullins 11/5, 9/11, 12/10 and 14/12.

The result of the Connacht fundraising draw is 1st Prize of Euro100= was won be Ms. Yvonne McBain, Sligo; 2nd Prize of Euro75= was won by T. Diviney, Galway and 3rd Prize of Euro50= was won by Mr. Paul Hynes, Galway.

Upcoming events are the >Ballina Masters which will be held in Moyne College Ballina on Saturday 10/4/04. This is Junior Competitions with age categories U12s, U14s and U17s. Entries to be returned to Eamon Nealon, 26 Convent Hill Crescent, Ballina, Co. Mayo.

The All Ireland Interprovincial Championships will be held on Saturday 24/4/04 in Cork.

The Connacht Senior Close will be held in the Commercial Boat Club, Galway on 8/5/04.

The Connacht A.G.M. will the also be held on 8/5/04 at 1pm in the Commercial Boat Club, Galway. County committees are asked to forward their County representative nominations and nominations for the officers positions to the Connacht Secretary.

Happy Easter

>A civic reception for Ballina Pure Fresh Table Tennis Club
Ballina Pure Fresh Table Tennis Club were honoured recently with a civic reception, its the greatest recognition a club can be honoured with. They were acknowledged on their recent success of the past year their gold & silver at the International primary schools c-ships, double gold in Mosney at the national finals.The all Ireland u-15 boys schools title, Winner and r-up of the Scotish West Open,Jenny O'Donnell on retaining her Irish no-1 spot,Susan Nealon taking the no-2,& Chloe Nealon on reaching the final of the Munster Open u-12 & with the result pushing herself into the Irish no-5 spot The Mayor of Ballina acknowledged the volontary work of its members & the honour the club has bestowed on the town of Ballina. A scroll was presented to Eamon nealon head coach at the club.

Mayo Girls do their highland thing!
Winner J.O'DONNELL r-up S.NEALON with T.McLERNON Of Scotland in U-13 Final Jenny O'Donnell beat club mate Susan Nealon in the Girls U13 Final at Scotland's largest tournament, Jenny and Susan met in the final after both gilrs had wins against Scottish No.1 Kirsty Matthews. Ballina squad coach Eamon Nealon complemented the organisers on some superb hospitality and an excellent event, which showcased some of the top junior and senior talent in the UK. Jenny and Susan also made the semi-finals of the U15 Girls event with good performances from all the girls. The team was delighted to have the opportunity to meet the new West of Scotland Champion Alan Cooke who beat Ryan Jenkins in the senior final. Senior Irish players Andrew Dennison and Marcus McDonnell were also in action with Marcus loosing to Welshman Ryan Jenkins 3-1.

Connacht News 13/01/04
The Connacht Table Tennis Division 1 League are starting and the teams are Galway A Team Captain Ronan Rooney, Shane Folan, Rena Mc Carron and Cliff Rowe; Galway B Team Captain Teresa Egan, Helen Dolan, Mike Finnerty and Pa Lowry; Ballymote Team Captain Alan Taylor, Charles Hodgins, John Hodgins and Jonathon Hodgins; Ballina Team Non Playing Captain Denis Mc Donagh, Eileen O'Donnell, Jenny O'Donnell. Ciara O'Donnell and Susanne Nealon; and Sligo Captain Adrian Flynn, Stephen English, Wilfred Bourke and Alan Cunningham.

The Commercial Boat Club, Galway resumed the Junior Sessions last Friday and will continue to 2 April 2004.

Review of 2003
Connacht Table Tennis wish all their players, members, sponsors, supporters and the Connacht media a very Happy, Healthy, Peaceful and Sporting 2004.

2003 was the year when Rena Mc Carron and Ronan Rooney, Commercial Boat Club, Galway travelled the International circuit to secure points for the Paralympic Games in Athens 2004. Unfortunately despite their strenuous efforts and tightly fought matches they will not be representing Ireland this time but continue to play mainstream table tennis locally and nationally.

2003 was the year when Connacht won Gold and Silver at the All Ireland Schools Table Tennis Championships. Well done and congratulations to the Connacht Boys Under 15s Team from Moyne College, Ballina, Co. Mayo who won the Gold at The All Ireland Schools Table Tennis Championships in Gurranabraher Parochial Hall, Cork. Captain Kevin Langdon, Steven Curley, Michael McDonnell, David Mc Donnell, Steven Howley, Fergal McHale. School Coach Stefanie Carr and Eamon Nealon will represent Ireland at the ISF World Championships in 2004. Congratulations also to the Under 19 Boys Connacht Team from St. Mary's College, Galway who won Silver. The St. Mary's team of Conor Mc Donough, Kevin Walsh, Eamon O'Mairtin, Daire Curley, Brian Coffey, Aodan O'Cuimin, Sub. Gerard Curran [Assistant Coach] and Coach Seamus O'Mairtin. The Connacht Under 13 Boys Team were from St. Mary's College, Galway Darren Jordan, Andrew Carroll, Kevin Mc Carthy, Eoin Mc Grath, Gerard O'Reilly and Martin Madden. The Connacht Under 15 Girls Team were from Calasanctius College, Oranmore, Co. Galway Rebecca Casserly, Rachel Clarke, Marion Grealish, Edwina Cormican, Stephanie Casserly, Elaine Jennings and Rachel Nevin with Coach Louie Casserly.

2003 was the year when Ireland's nine year wait ended when the Irish girls took Gold at the ESTTA British Primary Schools International Table Tennis Championships in Blackburn, England. It was also a heroic achievement for the Moyne Table Tennis Club, Ballina, Co. Mayo having both Susan Nealon and Jenny O’Donnell team up with Claire Nelson of Ulster and Sarah Kenny of Leinster to represent Ireland. It was the first time that Mayo/Connacht had two players representing their Province in the Championships and also Eamon Nealon’s first time to be selected to coach the National Primary team. In the singles all the Irish girls qualified out of the group stage and into the quarter finals. The quarterfinals line up was an all Ireland versus England affair with the number ones and twos from both countries triumphant. The final was set for an all Irish affair with Jenny O’Donnell beating the English number.1 Jessica Macken and Claire Nelson beating the English number 2 Charlotte Callcut. In the final it was tough for the Irish team mates to meet but the girls played a very hard but sporting match with Claire winning 3-1. A weekend to remember for Irish Table Tennis, clinching both the team events and singles titles and all 4 girls finished in the top 5 of the event.

2003 was the year when the Connacht Close Table Tennis Championships were held in Athlone for the first time in twenty one years. Kariem Sabir, Athlone and Kieran Burke, Athlone won the Men's Singles and Veteran Singles Titles respectively. Teresa Egan, Commercial Boat Club, Galway won the Ladies Singles title while Terry Dolan and Robbie Gavin Commercial Boat Club, Galway won the Doubles Final.

2003 saw Terry Dolan and Robbie Gavin, Commercial Boat Club Galway defeat Kieran Burke and Kareim Sabir, Athlone in the Connacht Premier Table Tennis League.

2003 was the year when this island of ours gave one hundred thousand welcomes to 7,000 athletes, 3,000 coaches, 28,000 family members and friends and officials from 166 international delegations. Yes the Special Olympic World Summer Games 2003. I had the pleasure of meeting the Great Britain Special Olympic Table Tennis team. The team trained in the Commercial Boat Club, Woodquay, Galway. I was lucky to be able to play with them each day and was delighted by their enthusiasm for the game. I was very lucky to have been able to share a little of the once in a lifetime experience of Special Olympic World Summer Games 2003. It is a wonderful achievement for all the Special Olympians as most sports people will never reach the pinnacle of success be it the Special Olympic World Games, the Paralympic World Games or the Olympic World Games.

2003 the year when the Ballina Girls and Boys won gold in both the Boys & Girls Table Tennis at the Community Games in Mosney.

2003 was the year when the Irish team of Tommy Caffrey Dublin, Dave Pemberton, Kieran Burke, Athlone, Karim Sabir, Athlone, Carmel Lokko, Teresa Devaney Dublin and Jenny Harrison Ulster and the Irish team of Norman Nabney Ulster, Oliver Adamson Commercial Boat Club Galway, Jeremy Lappin, Marjorie McNeill won Silver in the 40+ and 50+ categories respectively at the seventh Six Nations Table Tennis Championships in the Isle of Man.

2003 was the year when Sligo's Adrian Flynn and Wilfred Bourke took part in the Connacht Cup for the first time. Athlone's Kieran Burke and Karim Sabir beat Galway's Terry Dolan and Robbie Gavin in the final.

2003 was the year when the Division 1 League 2002/2003 Final was belatedly played in September and won by the Equalisers Ronan Rooney and Shane Folan. Runners-up were the Commercial Boat Club A Team Teresa Egan and Helen Dolan. It is the Equalisers first time winning the Shield and were deserving winners as they were strong contenders during the 2002/03 season.

2003 was the year when Irish International and Irish Coach Colum Slevin came to St. Mary's College, Galway for Connacht's first training camp.

2003 was the first time in a number of years that Connacht players featured in the Finals of the HP Connacht Table Tennis Open 2003. In the Veterans Final Karim Sabir, Athlone beat Kieran Burke, Athlone and in the Men's Doubles Conor Nolan/John Murphy, Dublin beat Terry Dolan/Robbie Gavin, Galway while in the Mixed Doubles Conor Nolan/Teresa Devaney, Dublin beat John Bowe, Dublin/Teresa Egan, Galway.

2003 was the year when Galway had it's first Table Tennis Mini Marathon in the Presentation Convent, Galway. Thanks to Sr. Gabriel and the Presentation for their lovely hospitality. Table tennis is a great door opener especially when players move around the country or abroad and this was seen in particular in 2003 when players arrived from Russia, Nigeria, India to live and work in Galway.

It would be great if other players/parents or supporters promote the game by helping at Committee level in each of the Connacht Counties. Thanks to the Connacht Table Tennis Committee for all their hard work and thanks to their spouses/other halves and families for the constant support.

Well done, congratulations and thank you to all the Connacht players - young, seasoned and young at heart players who took part and played so well in the competitions, tournaments and leagues.

Personally my three table tennis highlights of 2003 were winning the Connacht Close Ladies title, sharing a little of the overwhelming experience of the Special Olympics and receiving a Sports Award from Galway Bay FM Radio Station. It was a great honour to receive the Sports award as this is the only Sports Award I've ever received since I started playing in the 1970s. It is particularly great to receive it as this 2003/2004 is my last season playing, coaching and being actively involved on committees. I need to take time out after this season as I have other commitments to fulfil. I can't say I'll be retiring as table tennis is a sport that is not "ageist" and I could still "make a come-back" in the future.

Thank you all very much especially to the Connacht media who have given us consistent support.

Yours In Sport
Teresa Egan
P.R.O. for Connacht Table Tennis

Connacht News 21/12/03
The Connacht Mens Senior Table Tennis Ranking was held in Castlebar, Co. Mayo recently. Congratulations to Robbie Gavin who won the Ranking event for his first time. Results 1st Robbie Gavin, Galway, 2nd Terry Dolan, Galway, 3rd Kevin Devaney, Mayo and 4th Dennis McDonagh, Mayo. In the Mens Under 21s 1st Padraic Egan, Mayo 2nd Dave Nolan and 3rd Dara Keegan, Athlone.

Galway & District Table Tennis League results Divisiob 1 Section 2 Rollercoasters Gerry Kelly and Felix Abiodun beat GMIT John Warners and Orla Folan 3/2. In Division 1 Section 1 Evergreens Sean Gavin and Jim Borge beat Commercial 'B' Cliff Rowe and Mickey Folan 3/2. Commercial 'B' Cliff Rowe and Mickey Folan beat Alligators Ronan Rooney and Shane Folan 4/1.Crown Freshmen Mike Finnerty and Pa Lowry beat Commercial 'B' Cliff Rowe and Mickey Folan 3/2.

Galway Sports Star Award
The Connacht Branch congratulates Teresa Egan, Connacht P.R.O.and Galway Table Tennis on receiving a Galway Sports Star Award for dedication to Table Tennis at the recent Award giving ceremony held in the Corrib Great Southern Hotel. Well done Teresa.

HP Connacht Table Tennis Open
The HP Connacht Table Tennis Open was held in the Commercial Boat Club, Galway last Friday and Saturday. Thanks to all the players who travelled from Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht. Special thanks to our sponsor Hewlett Packard Company. Thanks to the Commercial Boat Club, Galway for the hospitality and to the Connacht Committee for ensuring the tournament's success. There was excitement on Friday night when Galway's newest League players Alex Vaniouchine from Russia and Felix Adiobun from Nigeria brought top Irish players Conor Nolan and John Murphy from Dublin to a fifth set in the Mens Doubles event which they narrowly lost 12/10.

Mens Singles Semi-Finals:- C. Nolan, Dublin beat T. Dolan, Galway 11/3, 13/11 and 12/10. J. Murphy, Dublin beat Tommy Caffrey, Dublin, 13/11, 11/4 and 11/8. Final:- J. Murphy, Dublin beat C. Nolan, Dublin 7/11, 11/6, 12/10, 7/11 and 11/5.

Mens Singles Winner: John Murphy, Dublin

Ladies Singles:- Semi-Finals:- Tara Fusco, Dublin beat Louise Long, Cork 11/3, 11/7 and 11/5. Teresa Devaney, Dublin beat Linda O'Sullivan 11/7, 11/7, 10/12, and 12/10. Final:- Teresa Devaney, Dublin beat Tara Fusco, Dublin 13/11, 10/12, 11/5 and 11/6.

Ladies Singles Winner:- Teresa Devaney, Dublin

Mixed Doubles Semi-Finals:- John Bowe/Teresa Egan beat John Murphy/Rachel O'Connor 3/1. Conor Nolan/Teresa Devaney beat Terry Dolan/Tara Fusco 3/1. Final:-Conor Nolan/Teresa Devaney, Dublin beat John Bowe, Dublin/Teresa Egan, Galway 11/8, 11/9 and 11/8

Mixed Doubles Winners:- Conor Nolan/Teresa Devaney, Dublin

Mens Doubles Semi-Finals:- Terry Dolan/Robbie Gavin, Galway beat John Bowe/S. O'Reilly 3/0. Conor Nolan/John Murphy, Dublin beat Anthony Redmond/Kevin Mackey, Dublin 3/0. Final:- Conor Nolan/John Murphy, Dublin beat Terry Dolan/Robbie Gavin, Galway 11/7, 11/6, 9/11 and 11/7.

Mens Doubles Winners:- Conor Nolan/John Murphy, Dublin

Ladies Doubles Semi-Finals:-Tara Fusco/Rhonda Fox beat Linda O'Sullivan/Louise Long 3/1. Jeanne Cowan/Audrey Cowan beat Teresa Devaney/Teresa Egan 3/1. Final:- Tara Fusco/Rhonda Fox beat Jeanne Cowan/Audrey Cowan 11/5, 11/7, 5/11, and 11/7.

Ladies Doubles Winners:- Tara Fusco/Rhonda Fox, Dublin

Veteran Singles Semi-Finals:- Kieran Burke, Athlone beat Tommy Caffrey, Dublin 9/11, 11/8, 11/9, 9/11 and 11/9. Kariem Sabir, Athlone beat Terry Dolan, Galway 11/7, 11/9, 7/11, 5/11 and 12/10. Final:- Kariem Sabir, Athlone, beat Kieran Burke, Athlone 11/3, 7/11, 11/7, 7/11 and 12/10.

Veteran Singles Winner:- Kariem Sabir, Athlone

Athlone win the Connacht Cup 2003
Sligo's Wilfred Bourke and Adrian FlynnThe Connacht Cup 2003 Final was held in the Commercial Boat Club, Woodquay, Galway. The Premier Table Tennis teams participating were Galway, Athlone, Mayo and Sligo. In Round 1 - Athlone's Karim Sabir and Kieran Burke beat Mayo's Kevin Devaney, Castlebar and Michael McDonnell, Ballina 5/0 and Galway's Terry Dolan and Robbie Gavin, Commercial Boat Club beat Sligo's Adrian Flynn and Wilfred Bourke 5/0. In Round 2 - Galway beat Mayo 4/1 Mayo's Kevin Devaney won a point by beating Robbie Gavin and Athlone beat Sligo 5/0. Mayo beat Sligo 5/0 for third place.

Mayo's Kevin Devaney and All Ireland Schools Champion Michael McDonnell In the Final Athlone beat Galway 3/2 with Terry beating Karim and Robbie and Terry winning the doubles for Galway's 2 points. It was great to welcome Sligo as it is Sligo's first time in the Connacht Cup Competition. Michael McDonnell from Ballina is a rising star and will represent Ireland at the World School Games in Germany next year with his team-mates on the Connacht Boys Under 15s Team from Moyne College, Ballina, Co. Mayo. Teresa Egan Connacht PRO congratulated the winning team and presented the Cup to Athlone's Captain Kieran Burke.

Galway's Terry Dolan and Robbie Gavin with Connacht Champions Kieran Burke and Karim Sabir Athlone. There is a lot happening in Connacht Table Tennis. Next month some of Connacht's Junior and Senior players will have a marvellous training opportunity. They will take part in the first of 4 Table Tennis National Training Camps which the ITTA have included in the Irish Calendar. The first will be held in Galway and run by Irish Coach and Irish International Mr. Colum Slevin and will be held in St. Mary's College, Galway on Saturday and Sunday 11th and 12th October 2003. The dates given on the Irish calendar for the subsequent ones are 22 & 23 November 2003; 27 & 28 December 2003 and 13 & 14 March 2004.

Sr. Gabriel Freeney, Presentation Convent, Galway 091 561067 Mobile 086 819 3433 is appointed the Galway Schools representative on the Connacht Table Tennis Committee. Sr. Gabriel will host a Galway schools meeting in the Presentation Convent at 8pm on 6 October 2003.

Connacht Appointments
Teresa Egan and Martin Folan are Level 1 Table tennis coaches and will resume coaching club member's children in the Commercial Boat Club in October 2003.

Terry Dolan Phone Mobile 087 956 9632 will organise the Connacht Premier Division League for 2003/2004. Terry is also Chairman of the Galway & District Leagues and announced that the Galway AGM will be held on 14 October 2003. The Final of the First Division Leagues will be held in the Commercial Boat Club on 29/9/03 between Equalizers Ronan Rooney and Shane Folan and the Commercial A team Teresa Egan and Helen Dolan.

Adrian Flynn is the Sligo representative on the Connacht Committee and will organise the Connacht First Division Leagues. Phone Mobile 087 276 5598.

Kevin Devaney is the Mayo representative on the Connacht Committee and can be contacted at GMIT Castlebar Phone Mobile 086 193 7103.

Karim Sabir the Connacht Treasurer and Level 1 Table Tennis coach and is the Athlone/Roscommon representative on the Connacht Committee Phone Mobile 086 8160190.

Ronan & Rena in USA
Ronan Rooney and Rena McCarron, Commercial Boat Club, Galway arrived home to Ireland this week after a very hectic time at the US Table Tennis Open 2003 which was held in Colorado Springs. Unfortunately there were no medals for any of the Irish players. It was one of the best tournaments which they have attended and was very competitive. Ronan Rooney had a tough draw and played some good matches but overall was not happy with his results. He lost in deuce in 5th to Silver medallist, Frances' Stephane Mollines. Rena McCarron also had a very tough draw. In her group she had the gold and silver medal winners. She lost in the 5th set also to the Singles gold medallist Netherlands' Truss Laemars. However the highlight for her was in the team event where Rena defeated the No 3 in the world Satoko Fujiwara from Japan who won Gold in Open, Silver in Team and Bronze in Singles. Overall Rena was very happy with her form. She was really close to a medal position. Rena Mc Carron and Ronan Rooney are off in a month to the French Open and Connacht wish them the best of luck.

Six Nations Veteran Table Tenis Championships
The seventh Six Nations Table Tenis Championships took place at The National Sports Centre Douglas Isle of Man from Friday 12th September to Sunday 14th September inclusive. Teams from England, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Ireland took part.

The Irish Veteran's Society was represented in all three age categories. Results obtained were in keeping with expectations. In the 40+ age category the Irish team of Tommy Caffrey, Dave Pemberton, Kieran Burke, Karim Sabir, Carmel Lokko, Teresa Devaney and Jenny Harrison performed magnificently to take the silver medal to a very strong English team. On Friday night all the Irish teams were in action against their Welsh counterparts. The Irish 40+ team had to call on every ounce of effort to draw the match 4-4 with Tommy Caffrey / Teresa Devaney winning 3-0 in the final mixed doubles. On Saturday morning the team beat Guernsey 7-1 and Isle of Man 7-1 setting up the silver medal game with Scotland which Ireland won 5-3. The Enlgish match resulted in a 6-2 defeat.

In the 50+ category the Irish team of Norman Nabney, Oliver Adamson, Jeremy Lappin, Marjorie McNeill not wanting to be outdone by by their junior colleagues also took the silver medal but not without great difficulty. In the opening match the Irish team beat Wales 5-2 then on saturday morning lost 1-6 to Enlgand, Norman Nabney being the only Irish winner. Victories then against Guernsey 7-0 and Isle of Man 7-0 set up the silver medal match with Scotland. When the Irish team went into a 3-0 lead everything seemed rosy, but the Scots fought back to level 3-3. In the final men's doubles the Irish duo of Oliver Adamson and Jeremy Lappin lost the first set 11-1 but recovered to win the next three sets 12-10, 13-11, 11-9 to clinch the silver medal.

In the 60+ category Roy Copes, Ted Mahaffy, Ussher Watson and Evyln Kelly making her debut progressed in much the same way as the 40+ and 50+ teams. A 6-1 win on the Friday night against Wales in which Evyln won her debut match set up the weekend. Saturday morning saw the Irish team lose 6-1 to England, beat Guernsey 5-2, Isle of Man 7-0 and again set up a silver medal match with Scotland. Alas it was not to be and after a very hard fought contest with the score at 3-3 Roy Copes fought tooth and nail before going down 11-8 in the fifth set. Overall a very pleasing performance by the Irish teams.

The individual championship took place on the Sunday. In every year we have taken part, somebody has come home with an individuals / doubles gold. This year was no exception. Tommy Caffrey playing in his first 60+ competition "Battled" his way to victory. In the semi-finals he beat the English number one in four grueling, stamina sapping sets. In the other semi final team mate Roy Copes was also making his mark beating the English number two to set up an all Irish final. Roy began in fine style taking a two set lead and led 8-5 in the third set. Caffrey, using all his experience fought back to level at two sets each. Caffrey got away to an early lead in the final set and eventually took the gold 11-8 in the fifth.

In the other categories Irish contestants performed well to get to semi-finals in both Men's and Ladies singles and doubles. However, in the Consolation Singles for players who did not get out of their groups. Carmel Lokko won the Ladies 40+ and Marjorie McNeill won the 50+ category.

Next year the Championships move to England(Widnes) and the following year, 2005, its back to Ireland.

Ballina National Community Games Champions
There were tremendous celebrations in Mosney from the Connacht crew, as Ballina took both the boys and girls National titles with wins over both Ballincollig and Mayfield from Cork. The O'Donnell sisters put in strong performances. Coach Eamon Nealon was delighted with all his players achievements. For the whole story watch this space.....

The Great Britain Special Olympics Table Tennis Team 2003 Report by T.Egan
Recently this island of ours gave one hundred thousand welcomes to 7,000 athletes, 3,000 coaches and officials from 166 international delegations. They were accompanied by 28,000 family members and friends for the Special Olympic World Summer Games 2003. 177 Host Towns hosted the Delegations. This is the first time the Games were held outside the USA and it is the largest sporting event taking place anywhere in the world this year. Galway City was host to the 250 strong Great Britain delegation. Team Ireland was the second largest team after the USA delegation competing with a total of 434 athletes. Team Ireland competed in 14 of the 21 sports at the World Games - aquatic, athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce, tenpin bowling, equestrian, golf, gymnastics, soccer, kayaking, table tennis, pitch and putt and motor activities. 209 athletes represented Leinster, 122 represented Munster, 73 represented Connacht and 30 represented Northern Ireland.

I had the pleasure of meeting the Great Britain Special Olympic Table Tennis team. They were Craig Donaldson from Fife, Scotland; Alistair Feltham from Southern England; Scott Salman from Southern Region; Lisa Bradley from Glasgow, Scotland; Laura Boag from Tayside, Scotland; Victoria Bromley from Wolverhampton, West Midlands; Jacqueline Smith from Essex and Robert Kneeshaw from Northern Region, England. The Coaches were Jim Houghton and Wilma Catignani from Scotland and the Galway Special Olympics Volunteers were Therese Waldron and Marion Mac Neela.

The team trained in the Commercial Boat Club, Woodquay, Galway while they were in Galway and were delighted with the facilities and refreshments provided by Club President Joe Trill, Brian Hehir and the Committee.

Local players dropped in each day and some had time to play with the Special Olympians. I was lucky to be able to play with them each day and was delighted by their enthusiasm for the game. They all loved to play table tennis and were reluctant to leave the table for whatever reason or necessity. I played singles matches and doubles matches with them and they were delighted to try out the various doubles partnerships. One of the girls Victoria Bromley also plays in mainstream table tennis competition in England and is a lovely versatile player. Every member of the G B team, all 250, were given a video of their time in Galway. The coaches had a fantastic time with so many special memories of the Games, but especially of their time in Galway. Coach Wilma said "You were all so friendly and we certainly couldn't have been made more welcome. The hospitality of Galway had me close to tears many times that week, especially the respect and warmth that was shown to our athletes." They were particularly pleased with the results of their team who won 13 medals altogether - 3 gold, 7 silver and 3 bronze. Wasn't that fantastic?

Gold - L.D. - Laura and Lisa
G.S. - Craig
G.S.- Scott

Silver - G.D. - Craig and Robert
Scott and Alistair
L.S. - Lisa - Laura
G.S. - Alistair
Mixed D - Scott and Victoria
Robert and Lisa

Bronze - G.S. - Robert
L.S. - Jacqueline
Mixed D - Craig and Laura

Left to Right:- Coach Jim Houghton, Lisa Bradley, Alistair Feltham, Craig Donaldson, Victoria Bromley, Volunteer Therese Waldron, Scott Salman, Volunteer Marion Mac Neela and Coach Wilma Catignani. Front Left to Right:- Laura Boag, Jacqueline Smith and Robert Kneeshaw They all did very well in their own particular sections. They were wonderful. They must be so happy and proud of themselves with their cache of medals. It is a wonderful achievement as most sports people will never reach the pinnacle of success be it the Special Olympic World Games, theParalympic World Games or the Olympic World Games.

I was very lucky to have been able to share a little of the once in a lifetime experience of Special Olympic World Summer Games 2003.

The attached photos are Back Left to Right:- Coach Jim Houghton, Lisa Bradley, Alistair Feltham, Craig Donaldson, Victoria Bromley, Volunteer Therese Waldron, Scott Salman, Volunteer Marion Mac Neela and Coach Wilma Catignani. Front Left to Right:- Laura Boag, Jacqueline Smith and Robert Kneeshaw.

European Table Tennis Championships 2003
Galway's Ronan Rooney and Rena Mc Carron have returned home after competing in the European Table Tennis Championships for disabled in Zagreb, Croatia.

Rena McCarron had a very successful tournament, while Ronan Rooney felt he played well and had a number of good results, including beating Paul Rosnec of Norway and also defeating R. Brauner of Israel.

The Irish Ladies Team Left to Right Galway's Rena Mc Carron, Dublin's Eimer Breathnach and Kathleen Reynolds.Rena Mc Carron was delighted to secure a bronze medal in the Team Event with team mates Eimer Breathnach and Kathleen Reynolds [both from Dublin]. On route to the bronze medal they defeated a strong English team and lost to France, the eventually gold medal winners. They were the underdogs going in to face the favourites, a German team in the playoff for the bronze. However the Irish ladies scored a 3/Nil victory.

In her singles, Rena McCarron finished second in her group beating Italy's C. Ploner. She then met the gold medallist and No. 1 seed M. Bartheidel [Germany] where she was very unlucky losing 11/8, 12/10, 3/11 and 14/12.

Both Galway players Ronan Rooney and Rena Mc Carron now continue to compete for qualification for the Paralympics in Athens in 2004.

Congratulations and well done to all the Irish players.