DIVISION FOUR SECURE THE MAXIMUM 20 AWAY TO KILBRIN:
The Division 4 team travelled to Kilbrin in North Cork last Wednesday. While the hosts were depleted by injuries to battle-hardened regulars, Jim O’Flynn and Jason O’Callaghan, they were expected to offer stiff resistance.
First on court were the number two seeds, Mike Brophy and Brendan Barrett of Kilbrin. This was an excellent contest, terrific tight driving and precision kills from both men. Brophy recovered from 5-10 to take the first game and his superb retrieval skills gave him the second also. The skilful Barrett was undaunted and some tremendous boast-kills allowed him to edge a lengthy tiebreak. Brophy then increased his power to drive the Kilbrin man back into the corners and it proved sufficient to take a hard-earned victory.
On the opposite court, number 3 Gerry O’Donnell faced another experienced campaigner in Vinny Hayes of the hosts. O’Donnell played a power game into the corners with some soft drops, while Hayes excelled at tight driving down the walls. The early games were swapped before the CBS man drove on to an important 3-1 victory.
He was followed on court by number 5 Michael Curley who faced the home team’s John O’Donoghue. The powerful and athletic Curley took the first before O’Donoghue’s super serving levelled the match. With the edge on fitness, the CBS man maintained his intensity to claim his first-ever Munster League win in only his second outing.
Colm Murphy was at number 4 for the visitors, facing Paddy McMahon in a repeat of last season’s fixture. Murphy concentrated on high, diagonal ball into the back corners, seeking to drop-kill any loose returns, while McMahon often launched withering forehand power from the right side. Murphy weathered a comeback to take the first and manage to make closing bursts in the remaining games for the win.
Marc O’Donnell made his competitive debut for Ennis CBS at number, with Tomas O’Riordan his opponent. O’Donnell, experienced in the Dublin Leagues, deployed excellent power and fitness to make an immediate impact. The games were very well-contested but the Ennis CBS man ran out 3-0 victor.
It was a maximum 20 point haul and the team is now looking forward to a February 6 trip to the Gleneagle club in Killarney.
DIVISION SIX WIN AWAY AT U.C.C.:
On Thursday the Division 6 team hosted UCC “B”, hoping to repeat their victory down in Cork last week.
Viachaslav Chechun made his Munster League debut at number five, up against Niall O’Brien of the Students. Chechun brought his customary power-packed game to bear on proceedings and, with an edge in terms of consistency, he held off the committed efforts of O’Brien. Robbie McGann, at number four, put last week’s disappointment behind him with an emphatic display of good shot placement and court coverage in defence. Though UCC’s Con Broderick showed some skilful touches, he just couldn’t deny McGann his maiden win in the competition. Likewise, Ennis CBS’ Andy Loughran played with focus and concentration to win in three versus Sean O’Connell to secure bonus points on the night.
The remaining two matches were excellent contests with fortunes ebbing and flowing throughout. At number one, John Everard made his Munster League bow facing UCC’s Anmol Vaish. The first game saw Vaish display excellent variety, with deceptive drops and boasts troubling the CBS man. However, the determined play of Everard eked out a first game win with a closing burst of winners. The remaining games were extremely tight, the UCC man taking tangible leads in both but Everard’s tight driving and running power meant he closed out 15-13, 15-13, 15-12 for a brilliant victory over a tough opponent.
Number two seed, Tom Halpin, had an even tougher bout with UCC’s Oisin O’Connell. Halpin’s precise boasts and tight drives down the left proved to be very effective in the first game with a 15-9 success. In the second game, O’Connell’s ability to cover the ground meant that he was able to deliver good cross-court power in response to Halpin’s front-court efforts and the match was levelled. The same pattern was repeated in the following games to leave the players facing a climactic fifth game. Halpin kept his focus and delivered a consistent performance in that closing game to comfortably close-out, though O’Connell showed great potential.
They now look set-fair for semi-final qualification, though next week they face what will be a good litmus test against Thurles, a strong club at all levels of Munster competition.