Season 18-19 - Ennis CBS Squash Club

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Season 18-19

The 2018-19 season was hugely eventful for the club with the vibrant monthly internal Ladder running from early October to the end of April. The cornerstone of club activity these laddes facilitate graded competition for over 50 players. The steady stream of new members find a smooth induction into the whirl of club activity with 4 guaranteed competitive matches per month. Many players are making rapid progress, which is feeding into the excellent performance of CBS teams in the Munster League.

The neophytes of the Division 6 team were the undoubted stars, with a commanding success against Highfield in the Munster decider. Under captain Andy Loughran, there is a determination to fight for Division 5 success in the Autumn. Our squads in Division 3 and 4 had many successful nights but had to give best to Thurles in both divisions while our top team reached the knock-out stages of Division 2 with some great wins over Limerick Lawn and Thurles.
In total, there were four Ennis CBS teams in Munster action – a major progression from 2016 when only Division 4 was contested. The long-term goal of the club is to finally see a team compete in Division 1 of the Munster League. . . a very challenging goal, yes, but nonetheless when Ennis CBS can call on players of the proven calibre of Clive Morgan, Fergie O’Loughlin and Declan Devitt, it is a dream that may yet come to pass before too long.

Several of our players secured representative honours with Clive Morgan and Mike Conlon making the Ireland squad for the Home Internationals in their respective Masters age group. Fergie O’Loughlin joined Morgan on the Munster O45 team for the Inter-Provincials in Dublin with Conlon playing on the highly successful over 55 team.
The provincial Opens are also a draw, with Jonathan Rabaey forging a pathway for other young stars with his superb 3rd place in the West of Ireland Open ‘B’ division. His final match showcased his development with the Ennis man shrugging off a 2-0 deficit to bring his fluent left-sided driving game to the fore and take a confidence-boosting 3-2 win.

While the summer break is upon us, the courts will still be busy with the majority of the membership partaking of the sport on a continuous basis and the Summer Blitz will bookend the season.
After a hectic season, at all levels of the club, the summer blitz was a chance to enjoy some quick-fire handicapped games and also to laud the Club Champions for 2019.
A sporting thoroughbred himself, Martin Daly did the honours in presenting the trophies in A, B and C sections to, respectively, Fergie O’Loughlin, Gerry O’Donnell and Jonathan Rabaey.
O’Loughlin had weathered an early storm from Paddy Vaughan to eventually win out and succeed Clive Morgan as club kingpin. Gerry O’Donnell’s crisp technique and relative youth had proven too much for the stylish Pat McCagh, while the fast-improving Jonathan Rabaey took a split decision win over the technical skill of Joe Quinn.

The Blitz itself was well-served by the presence of Premier Division players of the ilk of Clive Morgan, Fergie O’Loughlin, Mike Conlon and Colm Forde and there were some absorbing clashes between them. In the final shake-up, Morgan and O’Loughlin held off strong challenges from Forde and Gerry O’Donnell to reach the final. This proved to be an excellent contest with the vast experience and technical know-how of both men ensuring a titanic battle. Morgan ended up the victor on this occasion to take the Blitz crown.
All in all, it was a fitting end to a season of achievement and progress and Ennis CBS now looks forward to a summer where an internal League will run for the second year in succession, testament to the huge appetite for year-round squash existing in the club.
Last weekend, Ennis CBS held their Club Championship finals. In the ‘A’ final, Clarecastle’s Fergie O’Loughlin was strong favourite against Crusheen man Paddy Vaughan. However, the early exchanges saw Vaughan’s supreme athleticism and retrieval skills forge a 7-3 lead. Slowly but surely, O’Loughlin’s years of high-level experience came to the boil and he took the first narrowly. The remaining games were dominated by O’Loughlin and he ran out a deserving champion in succession to Clive Morgan.
The ‘B’ final had the highly-skilled Pat McCagh up against the all-action Gerry O’Donnell. Though McCagh’s touchplay was a constant danger to the Kildysart man, his powerful drives gave him the win on a 3-0 scoreline.
In the ‘C’ final, Ennis man Jonathan Rabaey took on another Magpie, Joe Quinn. The concise left-handed play of Rabaey drove him on to a 2-0 lead before the stylish touches of Quinn pegged him back. Into the fourth, Rabaey’s superior consistency proved to be the deciding factor as he took a 3-1 win.
Clive Morgan and Fergie O’Loughlin represented Munster in the O-45 Masters section In Dublin, while Mike Conlon captained Munster to a record-breaking sixth Interprovincial title at the O-55 level.
Last Wednesday, our Division Four team travelled to Cork city to challenge Highfield in the third-last fixture in this season’s Munster League. Both clubs were neatly tucked in the slipstream of leaders Thurles – close enough that a strong result here would give genuine hope for title success, especially as the two sides have respective clashes with the Tipperary outfit in the run-in.
The opening match saw the number three seeds, Mike Brophy and Highfield’s Timmy McCarthy, take to the court. McCarthy, a masters international, displayed excellent technique from the outset, putting the CBS man under pressure with superb boasts from the back court and reliable volleying. However, Brophy’s athleticism and powerful driving saw him, eventually, parry those efforts and edge home in the first two games. The Nenagh man then kept his consistency to drive on for a valuable 3-0 victory.
Denis Meehan was our number five with Brian O’Callaghan once again fulfilling that role for the hosts. Meehan settled well and his high-powered striking, allied to his determined running game, saw him take a 2-0 lead. O’Callaghan, a player of genuine pace, then began to trouble the CBS man with his retrieving and subsequent drop-kills, taking the third game. Into the fourth, Meehan redoubled his intensity to forge a tangible lead before the Highfield man’s strong comeback just fell short on a 15-11 scoreline for a 3-1 win to Ennis CBS.
Masters international, Jim O’Callaghan, was at number four for Highfield with Colm Murphy in opposition. O’Callaghan settled quickly to take a stranglehold on the first game, taking it 15-12. The second game was much tighter before a series of superb boasts propelled O’Callaghan to a 12-8 lead. Again, the CBS man made a late surge but to no avail. The third game saw Murphy begin to deploy some good volley-kills from the ‘T’, developing to a 15-10 win. Boosted by this, he led 8-5 in the fourth before O’Callaghan clinically dispatched some loose cross-courts to level before driving on to a 14-10 lead. Murphy now faced four match points before firing some good diagonal ball into the back corners, forcing weak boasts, which saw the CBS man recover to 13-14. O’Callaghan, receiving serve on his forehand, then killed low for a 3-1 victory.
The number two match was Conor Plunkett up against Andy Fynn of Highfield. Plunkett began very well, dominating the ‘T’ and deploying his boast-kills with efficiency to take the first. His South African opponent was full of running, with his front court drops and tight driving to the back wall stretching Plunkett. Fynn took the next two games, despite some good rallying from the Ennis CBS man. Into the fourth, the Highfield man’s intensity levelled remained high and, with some good depth of driving, he carried on to a 3-1 win to leave the overall standings as two matches each.
It fell to the number ones – Ennis CBS’ Marc O’Donnell and Highfield’s Tim O’Callaghan – to decide the destiny of the bonus points. O’Callaghan began with purposeful play and he took the first game. O’Donnell now began to find his range and, with some clinical finishing, he levelled matters. The tall Highfield man began to dominate with the ciotóg style proving difficult to handle and he comfortably took a 2-1 lead. Showing an excellent mentality, the CBS top seed once again pegged by the deficit with tremendous dropping from the ‘T’. It was now all on the deciding fifth game. O’Donnell maintained his ascendancy, tremendous diagonal drives into the back corners and soft drops propelling him forward. O’Callaghan continued to trouble O’Donnell with his own powerful strokes but the Ennis CBS man took the pivotal victory.
The 14-9 victory for Ennis CBS certainly does not rule out Highfield of the title race as they host Thurles next week before a trip to Kilbrin offers at least a chance of full points. Sundays Well are also straining at the leash and it promises to be an exciting conclusion in a fortnight. Ennis CBS are very pleased to have maintained their recent momentum and realistic hopes remain as they face a first-ever trip to face Glenville, a new club on the Division 4 scene, before finishing in Thurles on April 24.
Competing in this league for the first time our Division Six team took on Highfield of Cork in the Munster Final last Thursday at Thurles Squash Club.
First on court for the CBS, at number five, was Viachaslav Chechun up against James Cahill. The powerful Belorussian utilised his booming forehand to excellent effect in the opening game, taking it comfortably. Cahill then responded with excellent tight drives and effective lobs to test the CBS man. Showing tremendous concentration and clinical finishing, Chechun closed out the match 15-8, 15-13, 15-12 for first blood to the Ennis men.
Robbie McGann took on Highfield’s captain, Peter Kelleher, at number four. From the outset, the intensity was there from both men before McGann’s burst of points gave him a 15-8 win. The second game was a toe-to-toe battle all the way to a tiebreak which Kelleher won 19-17. McGann shrugged off the disappointment and, redoubling his concentration on tight drives to the back corners, he strode on to an impressive 3-1 win.
Top seeds Andy Loughran of Ennis CBS and Nathan Cassidy were next on court. Loughran brought his high-intensity running game to the fore immediately and took the first game. Though Cassidy’s tight, low drives were a menace to the CBS man, Loughran’s well-measured lobs and speed around the court proved to be a winning formula. . . and Ennis CBS now had an unassailable 3-0 lead with two matches remaining.
Tom Halpin was at number three against Highfield’s Austin Geary. Both men were keen exponents of front-court kills and the first game fell 15-12 to Halpin. The match continued with closely-contested games, full of high-quality kill-shots, and it went all the way to the end of the fifth game with Geary winning a thriller 15-12.
The final match was the number two contest between Ennis CBS’ John Everard and Neil Walsh. In contrast to the previous match, these players concentrated on patient driving into the corners, probing for weaknesses. Everard took the first and, though the pace of the game increased in later games, the CBS man’s straight driving and drop-kills were exemplary and he took the match.
It was a terrific triumph for the team, none of whom had played team squash before, and now the challenge is there for them to compete in Division 5 next October. Along with the five on duty, there were valuable contributions from a committed squad including Joe Varden, Lachezar Kroezhev, David Duggan, Gary Bell, Noel O’Callaghan, Francie O’Halloran and Joe Quinn.
Meanwhile, our elite players are on a knife-edge after a compelling Division 2 semi-final, first leg encounter with Sunday’s Well of Cork city last Tuesday. Home advantage was with Ennis CBS but that was largely negated by the absence, through injury, of top seed Clive Morgan.
Stepping up to number one was Fergie O’Loughlin, facing Ken O’Keefe of Sunday’s Well. O’Loughlin deployed decisive power to win the first before O’Keefe’s tidy kills levelled it, though not before the CBS man launched a tremendous comeback from 3-10 which just fell short. Nevertheless, O’Loughlin was now getting into full flow and he drove on for an excellent 3-1 victory.
Newmarket man, Declan Devitt, was now number two facing the energetic young player, James Doherty, of the visitors. Doherty’s sliced cross-court drops proved a thorn in Devitt’s side early on and he took the first comfortably. The remaining games saw the Ennis CBS man display excellent touchplay but Doherty was quick and decisive and he held on for an important 3-0 win.
Colm Forde was the hosts’ number three with Mike Howard his opponent. This was a well-contested match with the Cork man attempting to drive his opponent back to the wall and force weak returns. However, Forde’s defensive capabilities remain one of his great strengths and, allied to an increased emphasis on front-court decisiveness, he held on to claim a 3-0 win.
His brother, David Forde, was number five against Tommy Horgan. Forde opened brightly with some excellent tight driving and front-court boasting giving him the first game. Horgan now came into the game, settling his play and reducing his errors to level the match. The remaining two games were very close-fought, with both men having bursts of effectiveness, however the Sunday’s Well player just managed to eke out wins on both occasions for a 3-1 success.
With only match remaining, there was a 2-2 scoreline and the bonus points now were in play with Cathal Lynch of Ennis CBS contesting the spoils with Glen Hackett. Hackett, playing with great fluency, took an 8-5 lead before Lynch roared back to a tiebreak win. Lynch’s power game was intermittently effective and Hackett’s composure and touch secured a 2-1 lead. With Ennis CBS’ hopes resting on his shoulders, the Clarecastle man produced some great squash to bring it to the fifth. The tension was palpable amongst the large crowd as this game unfolded. A critical moment occurred when Hackett, leading 9-7, saw a front-court drop just graze the top of the ‘tin’. Lynch seized the initiative, winning some high-energy rallies to, eventually, win out in a tiebreak.
For Ennis CBS, the emotion was relief rather than triumph, as they must travel to Cork for the second leg this week with only the slenderest of leads. For Sunday’s Well, it was an acceptable result and the stage is set for a battle royale by the Lee.
In Munster League Division 4 action, Ennis CBS hosted Kilbrin from North Cork last Wednesday. With Thurles and Sunday’s Well maintaining a tangible lead at the top of the table, a win was of vital importance.
At number five, Michael Curley took on Kilbrin’s John Donoghue. This was a reprise of their February encounter in Kilbrin, which Curley had won 3-1. The tall and powerful CBS man took the first before Donoghue’s tidy kills levelled the match. The contest remained tight and it went to a deciding fifth game where Curley’s youthful fitness gave the Athlone native a welcome 3-2 win for Ennis CBS.
Gerry O’Donnell was number four against Paddy McMahon of the visitors. O’Donnell, in a rich vein of form of late, played a decisive game with soft drops and powerful cross-courts giving the Kildysart man the edge for a dominant 3-0 win.
Denis Meehan had a very tough battle with the experienced Vinny Hayes of Kilbrin at number three. Both men showed tremendous determination, and no little skill, to see the first two games shared. Meehan’s powerful driving won him many points but Hayes’ superb touch play kept him in the game. The decisive period came in the fourth game when Meehan overturned a 5-9 deficit with some excellent boasts and then, eventually, held on 15-13 for a hard-won 3-1 result.
Michael Brophy was Ennis CBS’ number two in opposition to Jason O’Callaghan. The skilful Kilbrin man was returning from a long-term injury layoff and faced a difficult challenge against the hard-running Brophy. The rallies were long, with Brophy’s trademark retrieval proving a potent weapon and he took an excellent 3-0 win.
Conor Plunkett was the CBS top seed, facing Brendan Barrett. In the opening games, Plunkett’s ability to physically reach into the corners allied to superb boasts gave him a comfortable 2-0 lead. Barrett, a player of excellent technique, now warmed to the task and some tremendous volleying and low cross-court winners saw him bring it right back into a deciding fifth game. With forward momentum now being with the Kilbrin man, he took a one point lead early on which he protected all the way to a memorable 3-2 win.
Nevertheless, it was a very creditable 18 point haul for Ennis CBS with the satisfaction tempered only by the news filtering through that Thurles had a dominant 20-0 victory over Gleneagle. The same Killarney team will visit Ennis on 3rd April and the CBS will hope to maintain at least a sightline to the summit of the table with four nights remaining.
Ennis CBS travelled to Cork City to face Sunday’s Well in Munster League Division 4 last Wednesday. After a crushing defeat to Thurles last time out, a bonus-point win was an imperative for continued relevance in the title race.
The top seed match saw Conor Plunkett made his seasonal debut for the CBS, facing a strong opponent in Glen Hackett. The Sunday’s Well man made the early running with some tight driving being augmented with precise boasts. Plunkett kept rallying well but lost 15-11 in the end. The CBS man began to get on top in the second with excellent diagonal driving forcing Hackett to give up some chances on the ‘T’. However, despite leading 14-11, Plunkett was pegged back into a tiebreak which again fell to the Cork man.
Undaunted, Plunkett tore into the third game, winning comprehensively and then, with a concentration on driving to the back-wall, he held a 14-12 lead in the fourth before it closed to another tiebreak. In a thrilling 10-point sequence, the pendulum swung several times with Plunkett saving two match-points to eventually eke out a 21-19 win. The momentum was now with the Ennis CBS man and his tremendous depth of driving, interspersed with some tight drops and boasts saw him quickly take a stranglehold on the match for a 3-2 victory that proved hugely significant at the end of the night.
At number four, Tulla’s Denis Meehan facing Ger Burke of the hosts. Meehan’s power game was in evidence from the outset, with a strategy of consistently hitting the back corners. However, Burke was well-capable of returning with interest and he took the first game. The CBS responded with the same power as before, this time leavened with some superb high-velocity boasts, and he levelled matters. With the Sunday’s Well man hampered by injury, Meehan took a comfortable 2-1 lead before Burke unfortunately had to concede victory.
Gerry O’Donnell was at number five for Ennis CBS, with the vast experience of Michael Hourihane in opposition. Hourihane was technically-adept and consistent, however O’Donnell’s movement gave him comfortable wins in the first two games. The Sunday’s Well man responded with a burst of efficiency to lead 7-1 in the third but O’Donnell’s power stretched him into the four corners of the court to win out.
The bonus points were now secured and next on court was number two Mike Brophy facing the pacey South African, James Northover. Brophy had had a 3-0 win in Ennis in January but the home court advantage was now with the Sunday’s Well man. Both men dealt in powerful driving to the back, with prolonged rallying the order of the day. This time, the final result was a 3-1 win for Northover, though the games were very closely-fought.
Colm Murphy played the number three game against Sunday’s Well’s Evan O’Connell. The opening games were well-contested with Murphy’s defensive play from the back-court providing him with openings on the ‘T’. However, some drop-shot opportunities went a-begging, forcing the CBS man to largely concentrate on reaching the back wall. O’Connell’s pace around the court, allied to powerful driving gave him a 2-0 advantage. Into the third, the Cork man, buoyed by his early successes, strode on to an unassailable lead for victory.
On balance, it was a successful night for Ennis CBS, securing the bonus points against a direct rival. Next up are two home nights against Kilbrin (20th March) and Gleneagle (3rd April), with opportunities to keep the team in contention before a testing trio of away matches in April against Highfield, Glenville and Thurles on the last night.

Division 6 team travelled to The Mardyke to take on UCC in the semi-final first leg. Top billing went to Andy Loughran who had an intense match at number one. Losing the first game, the Armagh man produced an impressive display of sustained rallying to win out. The other team members (John Everard, Tom Halpin, Robbie McGann and Viachaslav Chechun) were also in fine form and a maximum point haul on the night gives Ennis CBS at least one foot in the final.
While Ennis CBS Squash Club has been engaged in Munster League action on three fronts in recent weeks, the internal monthly Ladder has continued with 50 players playing four graded matches each month.
In Division One, the early pace-setter is Oisin Casey. The Cork man accounted for Conor Plunkett and Alan Guinane, both on 3-0 score line, and is well-placed to accompany either Paddy Vaughan or Martin Daly to the Premier Division. The latter two players have yet to play any matches and are a huge threat to Casey’s initial pre-eminence.
Gerry O’Donnell continues his inexorable rise with two bonus-point wins over Garrett Barry and Michael Curley to take a strong grip on at least one of the promotion spots from Division Two. The great imponderable is whether Marc O’Donnell will swoop in late on to win the group or will Curley or Barry hang in there in O’Donnell’s slipstream.
In Division Three, Pat McCagh’s renaissance gathered pace with an excellent split-decision win over the towering Gerry O’Brien. Denis Meehan had a tough battle before disposing of the improving Frenchman, Frederic DeSouza, also on a 4-2 points split.
In Division Four, Andy Loughran followed up a win over Robbie McGann with success in a tough battle with Jonathan Rabaey. Loughran overcame a sizeable deficit to win the first 15-14 before some excellent straight driving finally gave him the edge in a match that was characterized by superb retrieving by both men. In this group, John Everard and Joe Varden are genuine promotion contenders who will challenge Loughran before the March 24 deadline.
Newmarket’s Mike Kelly had two wins over David McLoughlin and Oisin O’Donnell in Division Five with Joe Quinn taking the spoils against John O’Shaughnessy. This remains a very open group with O’Shaughnessy’s experience making a revival very possible.
Joe Whelan and Jackie Hynes had a good battle in Division Six before the Doonbeg man prevailed. Whelan found himself edged out by Viachaslav Chechun in a tight encounter but nevertheless remains favourite for promotion.

In Munster League action, the semi-final picture is now clear – our Division 2 team will face Sunday’s Well while Division Six are preparing for battle with the Students of UCC, both in two-legged clashes. Meanwhile, the Division 4 team continue their 12-night odyssey with a trip to Cork City to take on League leaders, Sunday’s Well.

Last weekend in the Irish Open Masters held in various venues in Dublin, both Mike Conlon and Clive Morgan secured their places on the Irish Teams for the upcoming Home Internationals due to top four finishes.
Last Wednesday, Ennis CBS hosted the Glenville club in Munster League Division 4 action. Though the Co Cork outfit had been absent from team competition for many years, the inclusion of three strong players from Highfield meant they were a huge threat to the home team.
Michael Curley was again at number five, facing John Loftus of Glenville. Both men were adept in terms of straight driving, however the CBS man was ultra-consistent in the opening two games which he won 15-4, 15-5. In the third game, Loftus got to grips with the relatively hot court and some terrific power gave him a foothold at 1-2. Curley kept his steady, measured style as play continued in the fourth game and  he took a comfortable 3-1 win to maintain his superb start to the campaign.
Gerry O’Donnell took on Andrew O’Callaghan of the visitors at number four. The Kildysart man’s powerful and tidy play gave him the win, though O’Callaghan’s athleticism meant he gave a good account of himself in defeat.
Tulla’s Denis Meehan faced the first of Glenville’s galacticos Jamie Torpey at number three. Some nervous ‘tins’ saw Torpey lead 5-1 before Meehan thundered back into contention. His blistering, low drives proved hugely effective and the game went all the way to a tiebreak which Torpey won. The second game was similarly hard-fought, with the Glenville man displaying a tremendous facility with soft-drop winners to get over the line. Meehan continued to deploy ferocious power and he took the third in relative comfort. The pace of the match was intense and, in the fourth game, Torpey managed to forge a substantial early lead through some superb sliced drops. Meehan fought to the end but Glenville took the spoils 3-1.
The top seed match was Marc O’Donnell against Anthony Purcell of Glenville. Again, the standard of squash was superb for this level with Purcell’s power and nous giving him the first. O’Donnell’s calm and athletic play delivered a riposte and the cycle was repeated to bring it to a deciding fifth game. Therein, the rallies were hugely demanding with some exceptional skill from both men. Purcell took a commanding 14-10 lead before O’Donnell’s gutsy comeback brought him within a whisker of a tiebreak. The Glenville man then closed out a long rally with a clever front court reverse-boast to win an epic match 15-13.
The team were now deadlocked 2-2 on the night with the bonus points riding on the last match – Mike Brophy versus Glenville’s Tony Fitzpatrick. The electric pace of Fitzpatrick was ably matched by the long strides and exceptional retrieval skills of Brophy and the large crowd of spectators were treated to some turbo-charged rallies. The first two games fell, narrowly, to Fitzpatrick but not before Brophy had delivered some tremendous winners. Into the third, Fitzpatrick managed to get a critical burst of winners to lead 12-8 and he went on to claim the  win in an entertaining match.
While defeat was Ennis CBS’ lot on the night, the season has not even reached its midway point and the tightly-packed division is still wide open. The visit of Thurles, with Conor Gleeson & Michael Ely in their ranks, is next on the agenda.
The Division 2 team took a stranglehold on a semi-final place with a win over Thurles in Ennis last Tuesday. Fergie O’Loughlin and Colm Forde soaked up strong initial pressure before taking valuable wins. Top seed Clive Morgan proved too strong for Thurles’ Joe Lacey while Cathal Lynch edged three tight, hard-hitting games with the up and coming Michael Ely of Thurles. Declan Devitt was showing his full array of shots but Thurles’ Kevin Moloney’s pace proved enough to win on a split decision score. Ennis CBS are certain of a semi-final place now, and a strong performance in the return leg in Thurles would see top spot secured for a possible semi with Highfield, Sunday’s Well or Gleneagle.
The Division 4 squad are in the midst of a marathon 12-match campaign which, last Wednesday, saw them travel to Killarney to face the Gleneagle outfit. Michael Brophy relentless retrieving eventually saw off the strong challenge of Farook Kahn in the top match. At number two, Ennis CBS’ Gerry O’Donnell’s precise power gave him a lead and his terrific comeback from 9-14 down to an agonizingly-lost tiebreak proved a pivotal moment in Mike O’Donoghue’s eventual hard-fought win. Colm Murphy took on the wily veteran Connie Doyle of Gleneagle at number three. Despite Murphy developing lots of tight ball into the back corners, Doyle proved equal to the task of accurate retrieving and then, deploying some excellent volley-kills from the ‘T’, he went on to claim the victory. At number four, Michael Curley produced an excellent performance of power and running to defeat the similarly athletic Tom Murphy of Gleneagle. The second game was particularly noteworthy, seeing Curley overhaul a 1-6 deficit with some consistent driving to take control of the match. Pat McCagh was number five for Ennis CBS, facing Kevin Long. This was a clash of contrasts with the honed skill of McCagh vying with the intense running of the Gleneagle man. McCagh took the first and several tight games ensued before the momentum eventually swung the Kerryman’s way. Despite the bonus points proving elusive on the night, Ennis CBS remain a factor in the title race and now face three home fixtures on successive Wednesdays against Highfield, Glenville and Thurles.
The Division 6 squad, already in the semi-final, fielded some debutants in their return leg with Thurles in Ennis. Clarecastle’s Joe Quinn and Armagh native Andy Loughran were 3-0 winners for Ennis CBS while Lachezar Kroezhev, Viachaslav Chechun and Ruan’s Francie O’Halloran had to give best, despite encouraging performances. Next up are home and away legs with Kilbrin and Ennis CBS will hope to build confidence for the knock-out phase.
Ennis CBS have entered four teams in Munster League action this term, and at the apex is the Division 2 team powered by Clive Morgan and Fergie O’Loughlin. Last Tuesday, they hosted Limerick Lawn with victory vital in the context of a three-team group with Thurles with two to progress to the semi-final.
Top seed Clive Morgan faced Barry Hession. As befitting a former international, Hession displayed deft touches and was competitive in the rallies. However, Morgan was concise and clinical in his technique and, with an edge in match practice, he strode on to a comfortable win.
Fergie O’Loughlin  (pictured below) was at number two against Liam O’Byrne. Both men were team-mates in the ‘Munster Select’ combination that reached the final of this competition in recent years and the contest was keen. O’Loughlin’s terrific low power down the left proved a thorn in O’Byrne’s side and he took the first. The Clarecastle man continued to dominate in the remaining games and, though O’Byrne certainly had his moments, O’Loughlin’s consistent hard driving game proved irresistible on the night.
Newmarket’s Declan Devitt returned to competitive action for Ennis CBS after a hiatus and took on Mark Healy at number three. Healy settled quickly and with some good front-court play took the first and an 8-4 lead in the second. Devitt began to find his range and was unlucky to be edged out in that game. Now attuned to the standard, a tremendous third game unfolded with Devitt hitting some superb touch shots before being pipped in a lengthy tiebreak and Healy took the overall win.
Colm Forde, at number four, brought his now familiar brand of patient, probing squash to the fore against Limerick Lawn’s Inaki Garcia. The first game was played at a frenetic pace with Garcia deploying ferocious power into the back corners at every opportunity and Forde attempting to parry those efforts. The game was neck and neck before the Ogonnelloe man edged home 11-9. Thereafter, Forde’s ultra-consistent style minimized the unforced errors and he ran out 3-0 victor.
Another Clarecastle man, Cathal Lynch, was at number five with Limerick Lawn’s CJ Kelly his opponent. Lynch was playing a power-packed style and he took the first comfortably. Kelly then upped his game considerably with some stylish drops to lead 10-1 in the second. Undaunted, Lynch launched an astonishing comeback to 9-10 before a relieved Kelly edged home. The CBS man continued his aggressive style, attempting to pin Kelly back in the corners, and it bore fruit with Lynch continuing to a 3-1 win.
Overall, a 16-4 point win for Ennis CBS is a giant step towards the semi-final, though upcoming tough encounters with Thurles will be a good barometer of title-winning potential.
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.
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. 
On the Munster League front, Ennis CBS opened their campaign last week, with the Division 4 squad hosting Sunday’s Well from Cork City.
Top seed Mike Brophy faced the pacey South African, James Northover, of Sunday’s Well. The opening two games were characterized by intense rallying with both players adept at retrieval. Nevertheless, Brophy took a 2-0 lead and then drove on with a controlled performance to clinch the win.
Tulla’s Denis Meehan was number two in opposition to Eoin O’Toole. Both men placed a premium on ferocious power down the sides and games were shared before a deciding fifth game ensued. Meehan remained determined and focused but O’Toole was similarly resolute and they remained locked together all the way to a tiebreak. Agonizingly, Meehan saw some match points saved before the Sunday’s Well man clinched a memorable 20-18 win.
Gerry O’Donnell, a veteran of the 2016 Division 4 winning team, returned to competitive action with telling effect. With Seamus Mulcahy of Sunday’s Well his opponent, O’Donnell deployed a varied and accurate shot concentration into the back corners, backed up with tight drops and he took a good 3-0 victory.
Pat McCagh of Ennis CBS took on Evan O’Connell. The Cork man’s all-action running game allied to powerful driving gave him the upper hand, though McCagh’s skilful strokes remained a threat. O’Connell took the first two games and then kept his consistency to take the match.
With Ennis CBS claiming 14pts (out of a possible 20), the squad are facing into next week’s trip to Kilbrin hoping to build on this start.
Meanwhile, the Division 6 team kicked off their campaign with a trip to the Mardyke to face UCC’s second string. There were excellent 3-0 wins for Andy Loughran, David Duggan and Lachezar Kroezhev, while top seed Tom Halpin and Robbie McGann were somewhat unlucky to be edged out in fifth game deciders. The team secured a highly creditable 16pt haul and hopes are high that they can garner a semi-final berth after further clashes with Thurles and Kilbrin.
Three of our players travelled to Cork last weekend for the concluding part of the Munster Open. First into battle on Friday evening was John O’Shaughnessy at the Highfield venue. O’Shaughnessy lost his opening match to the eventual winner Pat Hanley from Galway in the over 65 section. At the end of the weekend games O’Shaughnessy recovered somewhat from the poor start and ended up sixth in his section.
Clive Morgan had an epic battle with Philip Coleman from the Curragh club in the quarter final eventually winning out 3-2 and that resulted in a meeting with local favourite Johnny Hurley in the semi-final. Morgan lost out to Hurley on a 3-0 score-line but the result secured Morgan a top four finish in the event.
Mike Conlon (pictured above) was competing in the over 60s section and had a relatively easy passage to the semi final stage with a 3-0 win over Gerry Delaney from Dublin in the quarter final. In the semi-final Conlon was up against Dave Lalor from Galway. Lalor was favourite as he had beaten Conlon in the Connaught Open last month. Lalor took the first game on a 15-10 score line and looked in command of the match. Conlon fought back in the second and came from 14-11 down to take the win at 17-15. The match was now level at one game each and Conlon took control of the third game with a great mixture of accurate drops and precise length at crucial points in the game. In the fourth game Lalor redoubled his efforts and led the game 14-11 and it looked like the match was going to the fifth. Conlon in similar fashion to the second game tightened up his length and drops to run out the winner on a 17-15 score line for the second time. This proved to be the pivotal match of the weekend as Conlon went on to have a well controlled win in the final and was always in command of the match against Eamon O’Keeffe from the host club Sunday’s Well. This result sees Conlon seeded one for the upcoming Ulster Masters Open in Belfast in mid-February.
Ennis CBS Squash Club hosted another terrific Munster Masters Open last weekend, with high-calibre fields in both the O35 and O40 age categories.
Local interest centred on CBS club champion Clive Morgan who took on John Hurley (Sunday’s Well) in the O40 quarterfinal on Friday night. Despite a strong performance from Morgan, the Cork man’s intensity proved to be sufficient on a 3-0 scoreline. On Saturday, Morgan had an excellent win over David Knox of Waterford Celtic and held a 2-1 lead in his third match before retiring as a precaution with the O45 Munster Masters upcoming in Cork this weekend.
One of the highlights of the weekend was Celtic’s Gary Robinson’s thrilling comeback win over Ken O’Keefe. The Cork man was ultra-consistent in the opening two games and, indeed, held four match points in the third before the hard-hitting Robinson dug deep to win in the fifth. In the O40 section, John Hurley and Belfast’s David Ayerst had a gripping, high-quality semi-final encounter with Hurley’s fitness edge getting him over the line. Dara O’Flynn faced Keith Moran of Sligo, with Moran on the way back from a period of injury. While the games were well-contested, O’Flynn took his place in the final. Johnny Hurley’s focused and controlled play proved to be a winning hand, despite O’Flynn’s stubborn resistance.
Former winner, Ronan Peyton, once again qualified for the O35 final with his patient play impressing. His opponent was Connacht star Niall Rooney, who was making his first appearance in Ennis C.B.S.. Rooney dominated from the off with a high-energy, power-driven style that Peyton, at the end of a draining tournament, could not contain and Rooney took the title.
Ennis CBS members are now eagerly anticipating the resumption of Munster Squash League action this week. The Division 6 team travel to UCC for their inaugural fixture as an entity and hopes are high that they can qualify from a group that includes Thurles and Kilbrin. Fergie O’Loughlin will be one of the top players in a Division 2 squad that will entertain Limerick Lawn and Thurles in a bid to reach the semi, while the Division 4 team face a marathon 12-night campaign in a bid to retain the title won in fine style last season.
With Christmas in the rear-view mirror, under tournament director Clive Morgan, we are preparing to host the Munster Masters Open this weekend. The tournament is noted on the Circuit for the large and enthusiastic local crowds who attend throughout the weekend, making it a highlight for the elite national players. Matches will commence at 7pm Friday and visitors are welcome.
Meanwhile in internal club action, the blue riband Club Championship, sponsored by Martin Daly’s Tulla Road TyreStop, has progressed to the quarterfinal stage. In the A division, the brothers Forde from Ogonnelloe will have to put familial loyalties aside in a struggle to make the semi.  Colm’s calm and patient style makes him slight favourite, but David’s decisive low kills will be a threat. Clive Morgan and Fergie O’Loughlin face Hugh O’Donnell and Mike Brophy respectively and will be expected to progress, though their opponents have both shown tremendous improvement in recent months. The line-up is completed by the intriguing clash of contrasts between Mike Conlon and Paddy Vaughan. Conlon’s precise volley-kills will vie with Vaughan’s athleticism and opinion is divided as to the likely winner.
In the B division, John O’Shaughnessy accounted for regular sparring partner Tom Halpin to earn a semi-final tilt at Joe Varden. Lissycasey’s Cathal Hill had an excellent 3-0 win over the dogged challenge of Mike Kelly and will now face either Andy Loughran or Gerry O’Donnell. Loughran is playing an energetic style but O’Donnell’s vast experience may give him the edge.
A parallel internal Masters tournament is running, and some tough battles are expected. Oisin Casey will be favourite against Mike Brophy, but only by the merest margin as Brophy has certainly continued his upward trajectory this season. Michael Curley’s fitness and power will force David Forde to work very hard, as indeed will Gerry O’Brien’s towering presence against Premier Division regular Colm Forde. In the Over 30’s section, a mouth-watering clash is in prospect between Conor Plunkett and Paddy Vaughan, with the stylish Plunkett a very real threat to the all-action Vaughan.
Last Wednesday  we hosted Highfield in the final fixture of Munster Squash League Division 3. While the prospect of denying Thurles ultimate success was minimal, personal pride – and a runners-up placing – were powerful motivating factors for all concerned.
The top seed match saw the reunion of Martin Daly and Highfield’s Tony Cronnelly. The Cork man had a comprehensive victory down in Highfield, and he opened confidently with some decisive kills to lead 6-2. Daly then tightened up and deployed some super soft-drops to overhaul the deficit and power to the first game. Maintaining a high-energy and hard-hitting style, the Lissycasey man had that bit more consistency on the night and he took a deserved 3-0 win.
In David Forde’s absence, Paddy Vaughan faced Brendan Connelly once more, this time at number two. The CBS man’s powerful running put Connelly on the defensive from the outset, with a 9-3 lead developing into a comfortable win. The Highfield man then brought his power game to the fore and the second game was extremely hard-fought before Vaughan edged home 15-13. A fitness advantage then saw the Crusheen player power on to a comfortable 3-0 result.
Oisín Casey returned from a break from competition to take on the livewire Tony Fitzpatrick of Highfield at number three. Casey’s power and excellent straight-driving was instrumental in winning two well-contested games early on. Fitzpatrick was undaunted, however, and his energetic rallying gave him a toehold in the match with a third game win. The high-intensity play continued all the way to the fifth where the Highfield man took the win after a great battle.
Mike Brophy was at four, in opposition to Rob Holland of Highfield. Brophy was out of the blocks early with his trademark consistent rallying being augmented by decisive volley kills and he took a well-deserved two game lead. Holland, a player with years of experience at this level, managed to deploy his good technical play and it just about sufficed to level the match in the face of Brophy’s determined responses. Into the deciding fifth game, the Highfield man looked to be out on his feet as Brophy powered to a 7-1 lead. However, Holland gradually clawed his way back into contention with some superb touchplay and, in the end, he held off Brophy’s excellent challenge to win.
Denis Meehan came in at number five to face to face Conor Jones of Highfield. Jones, who had beaten Mike Brophy in Cork, provided a formidable challenge and he took a 2-0 lead. Meehan, always determined, now upped the intensity and threw down a huge challenge in the third. Jones’ greater consistency proved to be just enough for a 15-12 win and overall victory.
The overall context at the end saw Ennis CBS claim runners-up spot in the League. The club will have no less than three teams in Munster League competition after Christmas – Division Two powered by Clive Morgan and Fergie O’Loughlin, Division Four led by Mike Brophy and Conor Plunkett and the young guns of Division Six, all of whom are dipping their toe in representative action for the first time.
As the festive season approaches, members are nearing the end of the second of the monthly Ladder series. The Premier Division had a familiar shape with Clive Morgan and Fergie O’Loughlin dominant, closely harried by Colm Forde. Mike Brophy was competitive and will likely return to the top over the course of the season.
Division One was controlled by the jet-heeled Paddy Vaughan, with the expert touchplay of Mike Conlon being enough to guarantee elevation also. Mike Curley had an excellent win over Garrett Barry and his encounter with Denis Meehan will be pivotal for survival in the group.
Martin Daly edged a terrific tussle with Conor Plunkett, also holding off a tough challenge from Marc O’Donnell to take a strong position in Division Two, though he must still face a genuine challenge from Gerry O’Brien. Plunkett had a 3-1 win over O’Donnell and had wins over O’Brien and the much-improved Joe Varden, giving him a likely promotion spot after completing his matches.
Pat McCagh asserted his enduring ability with an unbeaten run in Division Three, while John Everard had a noteworthy runner-up spot with excellent 3-0 wins over Andy Loughran and Sean Talty. Tom Halpin showed early dominance in Division Four with two split-decision wins over Mike Kelly and David McLoughlin and is a good bet for promotion. The contest between Gearoid O’Broin and McLoughlin should be decisive also.
Other winners include Gerry O’Donnell (who is continuing his expected canter through the divisions), Viachaslav Chechun, Freddi DeSouza, Robbie McGann and Jonathan Rabaey who beat out their Eire Og teammates in Division Seven. The deadline concludes on Sunday, December 9 and an interesting week of matches lies ahead.
On the Masters Circuit three players headed to Galway for the Connaught Open last weekend. Clive Morgan and Mike Conlon had success in the early rounds with good wins over their opponents. John O’Shaughnessy lost his first-round match and ended up seventh in his group. Conlon lost his semi-final to local man Dave Lalor but managed a good 3-1 win over Donal Coughlan to finish in third place. Clive Morgan made it all the way to the final of the very competitive over 45 section where he lost a very tight battle to John Dullaghan.
Next up on the Masters circuit is the Munster Open in January. Ennis CBS will host the Over 35 and Over 45 sections with the rest of the sections in Cork.
Last Wednesday, Division 3 team travelled to Cork City to face Highfield in the penultimate round of fixtures in Munster Squash League. Nothing less than a bonus-point victory would have sufficed for the visitors, given the high probability of Thurles comprehensively accounting for Kilbrin, home and away.
Martin Daly was number one up against Highfield’s Tony Cronnelly. The early games saw Cronnelly operate with energy and precision and, though Daly was competing strongly, the Cork man took a 2-0 lead and a seemingly invincible 14-9 lead in the third. Daly showed exceptional strength to peg back the lead and take a tiebreak win. The fourth game had Cronnelly again leading 14-9, with Daly once more launching a tremendous fightback to get to 12-14 before Cronnelly closed out.
David Forde faced Anthony Purcell of the hosts at number two. This was another high-energy tussle and all games were close. Purcell had a slight edge with a cutting-edge to finish the rallies and he took a 2-0 lead. Forde continued to battle hard and pressurize the Highfield man but he closed out for the win.
Paddy Vaughan at number three had a thriller with Brendan Connolly of Highfield. The ferocious power of Connolly, often ‘nicking’ hard and low down the sides was difficult to contain and he took a 2-0 lead. Vaughan began to ultilize boasts to curb this threat and, two hard-won games later, both men faced into a decider. The fitness and intensity of the CBS man was in evidence and he fended off a determined challenge from Connolly to just edge home.
The number four match had Mike Brophy versus Conor Jones. Jones, a former Division One player in Dublin, was a tough adversary but Brophy’s power and court-coverage gave him a lead. Jones then tightened up considerably to take the next two before a tremendous fourth game unfolded. Brophy played exceptionally well to compete on every point but it just was not quite enough to hold out.
Colm Murphy was number five facing Cyril O’Mahony of Highfield. O’Mahony settled into a winning rhythm immediately, alternating between hard, low winners and deft drops landing softly on the front wall. In the remaining games, Murphy began to score with some tight drives to the back-corners but O’Mahony’s immaculate touch-play meant that he kept a clear margin whenever the CBS man drew closer and he took a 3-0 win.
The 5pt tally has sounded the death-knell for hopes of retaining the title, with Thurles now overwhelming favourites to close-out against Kilbrin in December. Ennis CBS will host Highfield then and both sides will reflect on some close-calls during the campaign.
Last week WE hosted Kilbrin in the Munster Squash League Division 3. With news filtering through that Thurles had completed back-to-back comprehensive wins over Highfield the previous night, the onus was on our lads to garner maximum points, if possible.
The standout match was the top seed contest between CBS’ Martin Daly and Tomas O’Riordan. The first game was keenly contested with some excellent tight driving from both men. Agonizingly, the tiebreak went against Daly with a stroke of good fortune for the Kilbrin man. The game progressed with tremendous intensity before Daly levelled with some decisive kills. O’Riordan’s boasts were effective and, along with some high-energy rallying, it proved enough to take the third, before he went on to take a 5-1 lead in the fourth. Daly then responded with huge determination – and no little skill – to thunder back into the game and bring it to the deciding fifth. There, Daly’s fitness proved decisive as he quickly took an unassailable lead for a fantastic victory over a very tough opponent.
Making his Division 3 debut at number five was Denis Meehan facing Chris Guiney of Kilbrin. Meehan’s power and ability to cover the ground proved enough to take the first before Guiney’s smart back-corner boasts gave him a 10-2 lead in the second. The CBS man’s trademark hard-running was then instrumental in completely bridging the gap to 10-10. Guiney hit some terrific low kills to take the game. Into the third, it was nip and tuck before Meehan’s clever boasts from the T pushed him to a 2-1 lead, which he developed for an overall 3-1 success.
David Forde as at number two, once more playing Brendan Barrett. Both men were striking the ball crisply and the first game was well-contested until Forde edged home. Forde maintained his focus, powering the ball into the corners before tight drops clinched two further games for a 3-0 success.
Paddy Vaughan again took on Vinny Hayes of Kilbrin at number three. Hayes was adept technically, creating openings but Vaughan’s quick reactions enabled him to counter and go on to claim a 3-0 win.
Mike Brophy took on Paddy McMahon of the visitors at number four. Brophy kept the accent on tight straight-driving to negate McMahon’s power game. The games were strongly contested, and McMahon hit some superb low kills from the back wall, however Brophy’s composed and consistent play delivered a 3-0 win.
The maximum 20pt haul means that we are in pole position going into the final two nights. However, they must face strong challenges from Highfield, while closest pursuers Thurles may hope to win maximum points from their upcoming matches with Kilbrin.
Ennis CBS travelled to Kilbrin in North Cork last Thursday in Munster Squash League Division 3 action. With Thurles having achieved a seismic clean sweep against leaders Highfield in Thurles, the opportunity was there for the CBS to forge a tangible lead at the midpoint in the League series – if they could succeed against the determined Kilbrin team.
Martin Daly was back from injury at number one, facing Tomás O’Riordan of Kilbrin. With both players slow to settle, it was close before some excellent boasts and lobs proved crucial for O’Riordan to take the opener. Daly had settled, and now warming to the task, he took the second 15-11 with some focused ball into the back corners. The third game was extremely tight with plenty of long, punishing rallies but the CBS man took it 15-13 with a well-crafted drop after a hard-hitting rally. This boost helped Daly to drive on to another win for a 3-1 success over a tough opponent.
David Forde was number two, up against the vast experience of Brendan Barrett of Kilbrin. The first game fell to Forde, 15-11, with the CBS man playing a high-tempo game into the corners and Barrett showing tremendous hard power down the walls. Indeed, the Kilbrin man took the second game with great variety and touch play. The third game saw plenty of power-packed rallies but Forde carried a 9-4 lead all the way to 15-7 success. The fourth game was dominated by Forde’s fitness and some judicious dropshots which gave him a 10-1 lead. Barrett showed huge character to battle back to 8-12 but Forde finished well to take the match.
Ennis CBS’ number three was Paddy Vaughan, with Jason O’Callaghan providing the opposition. O’Callaghan’s superb technical skills were once more on show, however the athleticism of Vaughan was enough to stymie the Kilbrin man’s attacks and he took the early games 15-8, 15-9 before completing a 3-0 win.
Mike Brophy was number three, playing the hard-hitting Paddy McMahon of Kilbrin. Brophy settled quickly, establishing dominance with some terrific mid-court boasts. Into the second game, McMahon was much-improved and reading Brophy’s boasts before unleashing his trademark power into the back corners to level matters. In this tactical cat-and-mouse, Brophy now switched to intense straight-driving and, though McMahon still was hitting some ferocious kills, Brophy took the lead. With the fitness advantage being with the CBS man, he continued to rally into the corners and took a 3-1 win.
Conor Plunkett was at number five for the CBS, against Chris Guiney. Plunkett showed some great touch-play early on to lead 15-10, developing it to a 15-10 win. Guiney hit some great tight ball down the sides and pushed Plunkett hard, however the great variety and consistency in the CBS man’s play gave him a 3-0 win.
The teams face-off against this Thursday in Ennis and Ennis CBS will be hoping to maintain their title challenge with a home and away battle with Highfield of Cork City looming to finish.
With a brief pause in the Munster League campaign this week, attention was focused on the internal Ennis CBS Ladder. The unprecedented interest from the membership has produced 13 graded divisions from absolute beginners up to seasoned internationals.
In the Premier Division, Clive Morgan and Fergie O’Loughlin survived close battles with Colm Forde to copperfasten their place for next month. Forde will face tough challenges from masters international Mike Conlon and Paddy Vaughan for the one remaining place of survival.
Division One has already seen some compelling action. Alan Guinane recovered from two games down and 13-8 in the deciding fifth game to pip in-form Mike Brophy at the death. Guinane’s high-level experience in the Dublin leagues saw him close-out with some exceptional sliced drops to add to his earlier win over Denis Meehan.
Division Two has been dominated, thus far, by Michael Curley whose hard-hitting, hard-running style gave him split-decision wins over Gerry O’Brien and Garret Barry. The latter victory was a classic, seeing Curley overhaul a sizeable deficit deep in the fifth game to triumph. Clarecastle’s Sean Talty has yet to show his hand and a strong challenge in the final week cannot be ruled out.
Joe Varden underlined his excellent progress in the last year with bonus-point wins over Pat McCagh and Tom Halpin in Division Three. New member, Marc O’Donnell, also beat Halpin and, along with McCagh and Gearoid O’Broin, will contend for promotion.
Andy Loughran had impressive wins over the experienced duo of Larry Donnellan and Joe Whelan in Division Four with John O’Shaughnessy and Mike Kelly also taking a win into the final week. Other successful players included David McLaughlin (Div 5), Gerry O’Donnell (Div 6) and Jonathan Rabaey (Div 8).
The Ladder will continue each month until the end of April, with cup competitions in Masters, Handicap and Club Championships categories running in tandem.
WE hosted Thurles in the Munster Squash League Division 3. Having lost 14-9 in Thurles and missing their injured number one, Martin Daly, the ante-post fear was that this might be a difficult night for the home team, compounded by the fact that Thurles now had their own top seed back in action.
First on court was the number four match – Mike Brophy versus Michael Ely of Thurles. Ely was hugely impressive in the first two games with his precise power giving him the edge. Into the third game, Brophy’s calm and patient style began to bear fruit with some excellent mid-court boasts stretching the Thurles man. Drawing confidence from this win, Brophy drove on in the fourth game with some astonishing retrieval frustrating Ely’s attacks to bring it to a deciding fifth game. It was nip and tuck to 7-7 before Ely’s powerful straight-driving gave him a barrage of winners to take the win in a terrific contest.
On the centre court, Oisin Casey of Ennis CBS took on Conor Gleeson. Gleeson settled immediately and powered his way to a 15-6 win in the first. Casey then deployed his customary tight driving style to reach the standard required. A tie break win for Casey was followed by another closely-fought game which the CBS man took. Gleeson was undaunted and some excellent boasts just above the tin gave him the edge to level matters. The fifth game was a thriller with both men locked together all the way until Gleeson seemed to take a decisive 14-11 lead. Casey then showed huge character to force a tiebreak, which itself see-sawed until eventually the CBS man closed out for a memorable win.
David Forde deputised at number one where Thurles’ Noel Walsh was in opposition. Forde was energetic and decisive in his play, with some great tight driving down both walls. Walsh forced Forde onto the defensive on many occasions but the CBS man’s relative match-sharpness meant he took a vital 3-0 win.
Paddy Vaughan was number two against David Broderick of Thurles. Broderick’s superb technical skills were once more in evidence, however Vaughan’s ability to reach the four corners of the court with ease meant that the rallies were often prolonged. In the end, the fitness differential proved crucial once Vaughan took two close wins and he closed out 15-7 for a 3-0 victory.
With the bonus points already secured, Conor Plunkett was last on court with Martin Gleeson of Thurles his opponent. After a bright start, Gleeson descended into a litany of unforced ‘tin’ to leave Plunkett a comfortable first game winner. The Thurles man then found his range with some excellent soft-drops and cross-court drives to level the match. Plunkett was playing a very calm, composed style, full of variety, and with Gleeson again inconsistent, the CBS man took the lead again. The fourth game saw both men bring their best to the table with long rallies the order of the day. Plunkett’s tremendous ‘reach’ to retrieve from the corners, allied to some delicate diagonal lobs from the front court proved to be the decisive factor in a 15-12 win for overall 3-1 success.
18 points from a possible 20 was a fantastic result for Ennis CBS and they are now right back in the heart of the title race with four nights to go.
We opened our Munster League Division 3 account with a trip to Thurles last Wednesday. It proved to be an eventful night with some highly competitive fare on view.
With top seed Noel Walsh injured, David Broderick was the Thurles number one, facing Martin Daly. Broderick’s superb touch-play saw him dominant in the first game before a tight second unfolded. When the Thurles man killed two excellent back-court boasts to lead 14-10, it looked an impossible task for Daly. However, the Lissycasey man showed tremendous grit to claw his way back to an eventual tiebreak success. This proved the turning point, with Daly’s relative edge in fitness enabling him to power ahead to a vital 3-1 win.
In the adjoining court, Oisin Casey was the CBS’ number four, with Martin Gleeson in opposition. Casey brought his consistent straight-driving style to the fore, while Gleeson displayed an intermittent cutting-edge with his volley-kills from the ‘T’. The Thurles player took the first 15-9 with Casey then making a huge effort in the tight second game. Agonizingly, the tiebreak went against the CBS man and then Gleeson maintained his standard to edge another tight game for a 3-0 win.
Mike Brophy made his Division 3 debut at number five, facing the up-and-coming Michael Murphy from Thurles. This match was characterized by long, intense rallies of excellent straight driving from both men. Murphy took the first 15-9, before Brophy’s superb boasting from both back and front courts proved decisive to level the match. The players maintained a high tempo in the third which fell to Murphy 15-10 and then, with fatigue setting in, the Thurles man completed a controlled win for a 3-1 success.
Crusheen’s Paddy Vaughan was the number three for Ennis CBS, up against Michael Ely. The Thurles man impressed with his explosive – and consistent – power from the back court and Vaughan was forced on the defensive. Ely took the first before Vaughan’s athleticism gave him parity. Ely’s standard never dropped and he took the third and a seemingly commanding lead in the fourth. Vaughan showed immense composure to peg back four match points and bring it to a deciding fifth game. A quick start from the Thurles player saw him take a substantial lead and, though Vaughan made great inroads into the deficit, he could deny Ely the win.
The final match on court saw David Forde take on Conor Gleeson of Thurles. Gleeson had pipped him in Ennis last season and a tight game was expected. Forde’s early-season sharpness saw him take a two-game lead before Gleeson began to find his range to get one back. With both men tiring, there was a fraught fourth game before Forde’s superb drop and succeeding reflex-volley from the ‘T’ gave him the points for an important win.
With bonus points, Thurles won the night by 5 points which, in the context of a remaining 100 points on offer in the campaign, is not insurmountable and Ennis CBS can be satisfied with a solid start.
Club member, Jonathan Rabaey, made his maiden foray into external competition with a triumphant victory in the ‘E’ section of the Killarney Open last weekend. Showcasing his tremendous progress in just one year of membership, and seeded number seven, Jonathan went undefeated, though not without surviving several tough encounters.
In a Friday night quarter-final, Rabaey took on UCC’s Robbie Matthews (seeded #2). Understandably tentative in his first-ever outing, the CBS man lost 11-7 before romping home 11-5,11-2,11-3 to reach the semi on Saturday morning. There, he faced local Gleneagle man, Keith Cronin (3). Rabaey had a comfortable first game win before Cronin struck back in kind. The Ennis man took the third 11-6 before a pulsating fourth game went to a tiebreak. Rabaey kept his composure to win through to the final 13-11. On the opposite side of the draw, Highfield’s Niall O’Keefe accounted for Eamon Bowler and Constance Young to take his own place in the final.
This proved to be an evenly matched contest, Rabey taking the first 11-8 before edging a marathon second 15-13. With his accurate straight-driving down the left providing a solid platform, allied to his excellent drops from the half-court line, he held on 11-9 for a landmark victory over a determined opponent.
It was a brilliant triumph, hopefully acting as a pathfinder for a cadre of other young players to make incursions into Munster. The idea of a brand-new Division 5 team in Munster League has been germinating for some time and this performance will certainly give impetus to that.
Clive Morgan’s astute handicapping ensured some closely contested matches in our season-opening blitz run off recently.
In Group 1, Premier Division regular Colm Forde had an uphill battle at minus 9 but displayed his patient, probing style to good effect. Gearoid O’Broin had a good win over Colm Murphy before coming a cropper against Lachezar Kroezhev and David Duggan. John Everard’s excellent overhead volleys troubled all comers and he was unlucky to be on the wrong end of some 11-10 scorelines. Joe Whelan’s ferocious kill-shots were on display, as always, and he shrugged off an early reversal to Murphy to win the group. A thrilling 11-10 win over Kroezhev left both men on equal points, with the Doonbeg veteran progressing on the head-to-head rule.
In Group 2, returning hurlers Garrett Barry and Garry Bell acquitted themselves excellently with some powerful running from both men. JP Sullivan can count himself unfortunate to have four 11-9 defeats to go with his wins while the powerful strokes of Viachaslav Chechun were a threat throughout. Conor Plunkett had four wins but was edged out by the experienced duo of Clive Morgan and Mike Conlon. In their head-to-head, the wily Conlon kept it tight to win through to the final.
And so the scene was set for the final – Joe Whelan and Mike Conlon (pictured below) – with Whelan’s power facing Conlon’s all-round technique and mobility. Whelan’s delicate drops allied to some powerful passing shots proved instrumental in yet another Blitz victory for the masters international. The hugely-popular one-rally championship was run off concurrently throughout the night. Amazingly, Joe Whelan completed the ‘double’ on the night, his hard-hitting serve proving a potent weapon.
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