Baldoyle Badminton Centre in Dublin played host to the Leinster under 17 inter-county championships on Sunday Feb 11th. The Competition had a number of top ranked junior players representing eight teams from six counties in the shape of Dublin, Kildare (two teams), Kilkenny (two teams), Louth, Offaly and Wexford.
Battle commenced at 11am and saw two groups of 4 fight it out in round robin style. Winners and runners up of their respective groups were then re-grouped for the afternoon in a Division 1 and Division 2 style format.
The draw wasn't very favorable for Kilkenny 'B' and pitted us against Louth and both eventual division 1 finalists Wexford and Kildare 'A'. While Kilkenny 'A' battled it out with Offaly, Kildare 'B' and Dublin. The final scores from the morning session didn't quite reflect the effort our teams put in with some tightly contested games within the matches. However the dust had settled sometime around 2pm the Division 1 and 2 groups were well truly established. Powerhouses Dublin, Wexford and Kildare went on to battle it out for the Division 1 honors, leaving our 2 Kilkenny teams to do battle with Offaly and Louth for the Division 2 crown.
Both Kilkenny teams had to face eachother in the first game after lunch and the 'A' team came out on top. Louth were next up for the 'A' team as Offaly lay in wait for the 'B' team. In a dramatic match Kilkenny 'A' were victorious over Louth winning 4-1 while on the adjacent court the our 'B' team were not letting Offaly have it their own way and made them fight hard for the win. Queue the final round of games and it was all to play for. Victory over Louth guaranteed our 'A' team a silver medal and Offaly stood between them and division 2 gold.
In the morning session we lost out 3-2 in a tight affair and needed to over turn at least 1 game in the final. Boys singles ended up being arguably the best game of the entire day. George O'Connor came out the right side of a 30 points to 27 victory after initially falling some 8 points behind. George dug deep and found a little more in the tank than his opponent, Kilkenny 1-0. Sarah Manning was next up for the girls singles and was unable to overturn a strong start from Offaly's girls singles player losing out in the end, 1-1. Our girls doubles had a tough task to face. We lost out 30-29 in the morning session to the same opposition and unfortunately Hannah Cooney and Leike Hoban couldn't discover thier morning form and Offaly were 2-1 up in a race to 3. Boys Doubles were next both George O'Connor and Jay Maguire bettered their performance 2 hours earlier and ran out comfortable winners, 2-2 and all rested on the mixed. Tomas O'Malley and Sarah Manning were 2 from 2 in mixed for the day and took to the court knowing a win would seal gold. Unfortunately for us Offaly had a trump card in the shape of thier mixed doubles girl, who didn't play any other games in this match. Her freshness proved key and a gallant Kilkenny pair went down swinging, 3-2 Offaly.
I would like to thank each and every player on both Kilkenny teams. You conducted yourselves with integrity and great sportsmanship throughout the day and are a credit to your clubs, counties and families. Although Kilkenny 'B' finished bottom you guys had some excellent individual results and performances. Maria Wall and Mia Phelan played their hearts out all day and when Maria took to the court for her final game of the day in singles, she looked as fresh as a daisy brushing aside her opponent who had no answer for her power. Both Mia and Sean O'Malley played their part in some excellent mixed doubles games. Luke O'Halloran put in some fine singles performances on the day and also teamed up with Jack Lupton in the boys doubles. A special mention must go to Orla Heffernan, who only started playing badminton in September, and did not shy away from any game she was asked to play. Keep up all the hard work guys!!!!
In division 1 a very strong Kildare 'A' team boasting 3 of the top 4 ranked girls in the country in their side were victorious, proving too strong for Wexford, Dublin and Kildare 'B'. Well done guys, congrats on your well deserved victory.