Midland teams won two of the three Southwest Leinster League Badminton titles contested recently.
In Men’s Grade 5, Johnswell of Kilkenny played Killoughey of Offaly. In their semi-finals on Wednesday night, Johnswell powered their way through an Athy team that Killoughey had drawn twice with, and Killoughey managed to just scrape past Carlow YM. However, Killoughey did not come to the match to make up numbers.
Alan Conroy and Michael Mahon, Killoughey, went behind 7-1 at the start of the 1st set against James Hanlon and Tony Nolan, but rallied and kept chipping away at the Johnswell lead until they finally levelled at 14-all. However, their attack stalled.
While Johnswell were racking up seven more points, Killoughey could only score one. Johnswell won 21/15. In the 2second set, Killoughey won the first point and six or the next seven before Johnswell pointed to make the score 7-2. Johnswell picked up two more points before Killoughey regained control. This exchange set the pattern for the set—Killoughey pulling ahead, Johnswell replying, until the score was 18-all and 19-all and then Killoughey scored two to finish 21-19. Johnswell got the flying start in the third set and went on to win 21/11 to earn them the first point of the match.
In the second game, Colm Grogan and Peter Grogan, Killoughey, had no answer to the power and control of James O’Keefe and Martin Hanlon, Johnswell. Martin and James won 21-11, 21-14. Michael Mahon and Colm Grogan, Killoughey, took the game to James Hanlon and Martin Hanlon, Johnswell, in 3rd Men’s. In a nip and tuck first set, Killoughey squeaked through with a 23/21 victory. In the 2nd set, Killoughey were always playing catch-up with bad serves and bad wides conceding points to Johnswell. Johnswell won 21/16. Nerves won in the thirrd set. At one point, four serves in a row went into the net. All four players made unforced errors. Hearts on the side-line quivered with tension and excitement. In the end, Johnswell committed two less errors and won set, game and match 21-19. Johnswell were crowned Grade 5 champions and will move up to Grade 4 next year, With their spirit, Killoughey will live on to fight another day.
Portarlington Parochial Grade 5 Ladies met Mullingar in Mountmellick. Mullingar finished top of the league, so had direct passage into the final. Portarlington just scraped in on scores following a 2-all, 4 set apiece match with Abbeyleix. In the final Clare Faherty and Linda Claxton, PP, met Lorraine Nolan and Susan Forde, Mullingar, in 1st Ladies and won by 2-0.
Sara Shirley and Hannah Kearon, PP, and Sue Whyte and Margaret Lynch, Mullingar, fought a thrilling 2nd Ladies, which proved to be the crunch game of the match with PP winning 22/19 and 21/19.
Clare Faherty and Sara Shirley, PP, met Susan Forde and Margaret Lynch, Mullingar, in the third game. Portarlington got off to a flying start and never let up as they sailed on to win 21/10.
This victory gave Portarlington five sets, so even if Mullingar won the last four sets by big margins, Portarlington could not be caught. There was no need for Linda Claxton and Hannah Kearon, PP, and Lorraine Nolan and Sue Whyte, Mullingar, to play the 4th ladies. Portarlington Parochial were declared Grade 5 Ladies Champions for 2011.
Athy RFC hall was the venue for the Ladies Grade 3 match between Kildare rivals Kilcullen and Kildare CYMS. After a tight match, in their four winning sets, Kildare won by wider margins than Kilcullen did in their wins. Kildare CYMS were pronounced Grade 3 Ladies champions on total points scored in all sets.