Ten junior players from Tralee made the trip to Ballincollig for the final Munster Ranking event of the 2014/15 season. Sadly, after five years of representing their club, it was the last trip to a Junior event for Stephen Browne and Alan Hobbart, who have hardly missed a tournament since the "green army" (green in more ways than one!) entered our firsr ranking event in Killarney five years ago. Both are in their last year Under-18 and will hopefully continue to play in the Senior events in the coming years. "Thanks for the memories...!"
But what a great day we had. Stephen Browne got to the quarter-finals in the Under-18s, his talent shining through in the group stages and followed up by a huge win over James Barry from Kinneigh to finish 6th. Alan went one better thanks to a fantastic win over third seed Trevor Tobin from Kinneigh in the group after one of the best and most entertaining matches of the day - it was very tight and one of the sets went to 23-21! In the semi-final, James Kelly was too strong and a re-match against Trevor in the 3rd/4th play-off saw the result reversed to leave Alan finishing fourth for the second time in a row, and keeping him fourth in the provincial rankings. This gives Alan a very good chance of selection for the Inter-Provincial tournament in Cork next month, a fitting reward for him! Darragh Boyd also made the quarter-finals, and Adam Buckley lost narrowly to Conor Leahy in the final of the Plate competition.
In the next age-group, we had not one but two semi-finalists, and Kevin Browne came within a single point of making the final! 10-8 up against Ballincollig's Niall Brown in the final set, it looked like the breakthrough might be coming... but Niall is an experienced campaigner and dug deep to win the match by the narrowest of margins. It wasn't over yet for Kevin - his friend Darragh Boyd had made the semi-final on the other side of the draw and was waiting for him in the 3rd/4th play-off! Darragh played superbly all day, and matches between these two are always close, so it was no surprise to see it going to the wire. Again a 3-2 finish, Darragh third and Kevin fourth. These two are also in the running for Inter-Pro selection, making this Tralee's fifth year in a row with year-on-year improvement in results! Well done!
Tralee had one other representative in the U-15s, Liam Magee (still U-13 this season) took a set off Ballincollig's Ciaran O'Donoghue in the group stages - no mean feat, Ciaran won the U-13 event!
It was Eoin Higgins's first outing to a ranking event in a Tralee shirt, and he played superbly, attracting the attention of other coaches - "where have you been hiding him?" He came tantalisingly close to qualifying for the knockout stage of the U-13s, losing 11-9 in the final set against David Conway from the relatively new Cloughjordan club. We must do something about these final-set showdowns! He got to the semi-final of the Plate, losing to Glen Buckley (Ballincollig) who had narrowly beaten our Sam Pituch in an earlier round, (Glen went on to win the consolation event). Johnny Feely made a come-back to ranking competition, and will hopefully be playing for us again next season.
Our only entrant in the Boys' U-11 event was Michael Guerin (the future of Tralee Table Tennis Club?). Michael easily qualified for the knockout stage but unlucky seeding pitted him against the number one seed in the opening round, Adam Buckley went on to win it. Michael had already done well in the older age group, finishing third in his group and reaching the Plate quarter-final.
A great day for Tralee, well done to Brian and Ger for coaching all our players, great to see support travelling from Tralee and looking forward to next season!
Click the logo to visit the Munster site for full results and lots of photos.