Five leagues, five finals, five winners feted on a fantastic night of badminton for Offaly Clubs.
Offaly League Secretary, Joanne Molloy certainly organised a real treat for badminton followers.
The three men’s finals were exciting and absorbing, and the atmosphere was electric. The women’s finals were equally important to the participants but didn’t generate the same amount of excitement for the spectators.
Division 4 Men
Kinnity and Country Club of Ballyskenach met in the Division 4 Men’s final. Kinnity started with a bang in first men’s, when Frank Ryan and PJ Deane, Kinnity, outscored Christian Clarke and Monty Franks, Country Club, 21/18, 21/19.
In the second game, Donal Hogan and Andrew Cullen, CC, had the measure of Stephen Clarke and Liam Hynes, Kinnitty winning the first set 21/16. Kinnity won the next set 21/18 however, Donal and Andrew edged ahead in the 3rd set and kept the pressure on to win set and game 21/16.
In the third game, Frank Ryan and Stephen Clarke, Kinnity scored a 21/18 first set victory over Christian Clarke and Andrew Cullen, CC. The pressure was never off either side in the next set and the score was level at 20-all, then 21-all and finally 22-all before Christian and Andrew salvaged the game for Country Club, 24/22. After that Christian and Andrew were able to keep enough pressure on to win the third set and game 21/17.
In 4th men, the first set was a non-starter for P.J. Deane and Liam Hynes, Kin, Donal Hogan and Monty Franks, CC, got off to a flying start by 21/7, Country Club. With the match hanging in the balance, PJ Deane and Liam Hynes, Kin, rose to the occasion. They fought tenaciously to earn a 21/18 set win. The stage was set for a grand finale. Each team had won five sets. The entire match results came down to this one set. Monty Franks and Donal Hogan, CC, were the pair able to rise to the occasion and scored a 21/13 set win to claim set, game, and match for Country Club.
Division 5 Men
Country Club and Killoughey went into the final on very even terms. The tightness of the m atch was indicated by first men’s. Donal Hogan and Andrew Cullen, Country Club, scraped past Alan Conroy and Michael Mahon, Killoughey, 21/19. Michael and Alan retaliated with a 21/14 win but the Country Club fought back and scored a 21/16 win. In badminton matches, if at the end of the match, the two teams are level on games, the number of sets won are counted. If this is even, then total scores are counted. Incredibly, even though Country Club won the game, both teams finished with 56 points.
Second Men’s continued the suspense. Peter Grogan and Colm Grogan, K played John McCabe and Conor Harte, CC. The score was 21-all and 22-all before Colm and Peter scored two points in a row to win 24/22. In the second set, Killoughey sprang into an early lead and built on it to rack up a 21/11 second set win.
In the first set of the third game, Michael Mahon and Colm Grogan, managed a 22/20 win, and then collapsed. Conor Harte and Donal Hogan, CC, went on to easy 21/13, 21/11 wins in the next two sets.
Alan Conroy and Peter Grogan, K, managed to keep their noses in front of Andrew Cullen and John McCabe in the first set of 4th Men’s to win 21/19. In the 2nd set Country Club built up a seven point lead. No matter what the Killoughey pair tried, they couldn’t close the gap. Country Club won 21/15.
In the final set, Killoughey went back to using more long, high, clears and tight drops and Alan Conroy and Peter Grogan went on to clinch the match for Killoughey with a 21/15 set and game win. Killoughey were declared match winners with two games and two sets to Country Club’s two games and one set.
Division 6 Men
Kinnity were the team to beat in Division 6 during most of the League. First men’s started off with a brilliant set between John McCabe and Darren Tomlinson, Country Club, and James Coughlan and Mark Flaherty. Kinnity. Much of the set was played as an exchange of points but finally, at 20-all, John McCabe and Darren Tomlinson, CC, forced and error and got a lucky break to win 22-20 The 2nd set was equally hard-fought, but not as close. Country Club closed out the game 21/16.
Tony O’Connor and Paddy Quinlan, CC met Aaron Flaherty and Aaron Browne, Kinnity. The Kinnitty pair won the first set 21/17 but Paddy and Tony won the 2nd set 21/18. The lead see-sawed back and forth in the 3rd set and with the score at 20-all, Kinnity made two errors which left the score 22/20, another win for Country Club.
John McCabe and Tony O’Connor faced James Coughlan and Aaron Flaherty in the third game. The scores of 21/17 and 21/19, indicates a competitive game with Country Club holding a slight edge when it came to finishing a shuttle.
With three wins, Country Club couldn’t be caught, but Darren Tomlinson and Paddy Quinlan and Mark Flaherty and Aaron Browne all played with pride and passion.. After two more very competitive sets, Country Club rose a cheer with a 21/17, 21/17 victory and the Division 6 title.
Division 6 Ladies
The match between Rahan and Kinnity was the most competitive of the Ladies matches. In the first game, Katie Doyle and Amy Kearney, Rahan, fell to Hazel Delahunt and Trisha Cullen, Kinnity, 5-21, 13-21.
Olive Kearney and Aine Hickey fared much better against Theresa Dooley and Joanne Molloy with competitive scores of 16/21, 15/21.
Katie Doyle and Olive Kearney finally made the break-through for Rahan when they outscored Hazel Delahunt and Theresa Dooley 21/14, 21/14 but Rahan joy was short-lived when Trisha Cullen and Joanne Molloy, K, defeated Amy Kearney and Aine Hickey, 21/6. Since Kinnity had won two games and a set and there was no way Rahan could defeat them, Rahan elected not to play the last set. Kinnity were declared winners.
Division 5 Ladies
Even though they lined out with Trisha Cullen in place of Bernie Molloy, Kinnity were commanding winners in Division 5. Ann Daly and Denise Hannon fought hard for Country Club against Trisha Cullen and Hazel Delahunt, K, and managed to capture the 2nd set, 21/14, Kinnity dominated the other two sets winning 21/17, 21/13. Joy Delahunt and Joanne Molloy, K, outscored Lisa Hogan and Jessica O’Brien, CC, 21/8, 21/11.
Third ladies for Kinnity, Trisha Cullen and Joy Delahunt, had a comprehensive 21/9, 21/7 win against Ann Daly and Jessica O’Brien. In the last game, Denise Hannon and Lisa Hogan, CC, battled hard against Hazel Delahunt and Joanne Molloy and ran up very respectable scores of 21/14, 21/18, in their quest for victory. The final score was 4-0 to Kinnity, firmly establishing them as the strongest ladies in the Offaly Leagues.
The National Schools Blitz will be held in Clonaslee on March 11. Two Offaly teams, U-17 and U-13 will be in action in the Leinster Under-age Competitions.