Playing in U13 last season, the core of the 2018 U15 Offaly badminton team finished 3rd in Division 3. This year, Emma Grogan, Boora, Shannyn Healion, Killoughey, Myles Handy, Clara, and Andrew Johnson, Killoughey moved up to U15 where they joined Alex Gleeson, Rahan, the only remaining member of the U15 2017 team, Roisin Byrne, Rahan, Caroline Meacle, Killoughey, and Liam Flynn, Clara to finish third in Division 2, a jump of 4 ranking places.
Offaly were drawn against Meath A, Kilkenny B, and Dublin in the morning qualifying pool.
Meath A were the first opponents.
Andrew Johnson was behind when the teams changed over at the halfway stage but fought on before he was finally defeated 17/21. Caroline Meacle was ahead at the changeover, and well ahead at 16/8 when a combination of luck by the Meath player and a lapse of concentration by Caroline lead to a series of points for the Meath girl. Caroline rallied and managed to hold on for a 21/18 win. Alex Gleeson and Myles Handy showed some of the form that led to their selection as the Offaly doubles pair by scoring a 21/16 win. Emma Grogan and Roisin Byrne fought hard in their doubles game, but couldn’t string enough points together and were defeated 16/21. With the match at 2-2, the winner was going to be the winner of the mixed. Caroline Meacle and Liam Flynn nearly pulled off a win for Offaly with several hard-fought rallies but Meath held on for a 21/18 win.
Next opponents were Kilkenny B. For a second team, Kilkenny B put up a strong challenge to Offaly. Andrew Johnson started with a well-earned 21/14 victory. Caroline overwhelmed her Kilkenny opponent with a 21/9 score. Alex and Myles turned in another workman like performance with a 21/16 win that sealed the match for Offaly. Games and points matter as Offaly were soon to learn. Emma Grogan and Shannyn Healion met more than their match in girls’ doubles and went down 13/21. Liam Flynn and Caroline Meacle played their best match of the day, but still weren’t able to convert their effort into a win, losing narrowly 19/21. Despite the set-backs, Offaly scored a match win.
Dublin were next. With a team studded with Leinster squad players, Dublin were in a class of their own. Offaly never got out of single figures in any game and lost 5-0, but so did Meath A and Kilkenny B. When Kilkenny defeated Meath A 3-2, the pencils came out to see which teams went into Divisions 2 and 3 behind Dublin in Division 1. Points do matter—Meath 218, Offaly 211, and Kilkenny B 209. Kilkenny went into Division 3 and Meath A, into Division 2. Now the run-off was between Offaly and Louth to determine which team was best 3rd place team so earned the right to play in Division 2. Again points counted since both teams had won 5 games, and again Offaly with 211 to 201 for Louth joined Kilkenny A, Meath A, and Meath B in Division 2.
Kilkenny A were tough, but after an hour break, Offaly were not as sharp as they had been. Offaly lost all 5 games to Kilkenny A. The stand-out performance was Myles Handy and Alex Gleeson with a 19/21 score. The mentors shook-up the team for the next Match against Meath A. Offaly gambled on winning the mixed so Alex Gleeson played singles, Myles and Liam played doubles, and Andrew and Caroline played Mixed. Offaly aimed to pick up one more point. Alex lost the singles, but so had Andrew in the morning Meath A match. Caroline Meacle scored another win but by a single point, 21/20. Liam Flynn and Myles Handy didn’t gel as a doubles pair and lost by a wide margin. Emma Grogan and Shannyn Healion put up a fight but lost 13/21. Andrew Johnson and Caroline Meacle did the job they were assigned and won 21/17, but Offaly still suffered a 3-2 loss. The final match against Meath B would determine 3rd and 4th in Division 2. Offaly wanted the bronze medal and Andrew and Caroline led the way towards their goal with both holding their opponents to single digits. Alex Gleeson and Myles Handy didn’t reach the same heights as in the morning session and lost 14/21. Emma Grogan and Roisin Byrne saved the best girls doubles for the last and won 21/19 to seal the bronze for Offaly. Even though Shannyn Healion smashed ferociously at the net and Liam Flynn ran metres at the back, the pair were not able to score another win but could celebrate with their team mates, knowing they had given their best. Offaly received the bronze medals in Division 2 behind Kilkenny A, gold, and Meath A, silver. Dublin were champions in Division 1 and will go forward to represent Leinster in the All-Ireland U15 competition. Louth won the gold in Division 3.
Further Badminton news:
All badminton enthusiasts turn on your TV’s. This coming Saturday, November 17th, the finals of the Irish International Badminton Open are scheduled for viewing on TnaG beginning at 4.30 p.m.
All entries for the |Offaly Graded Doubles and Mixed Doubles, 1st round, are to be submitted to Ethan Rowe-McCormack by today, Wednesday, November 14. Entry fee is 10e per person for 1 event or 15e per person for 2 events. Registration is 3.30 in Clonaslee Community Centre Kitchen with play to commence at 4.00. Fees may be paid on the day. The first round of the Offaly Juvenile Doubles, Division 3, 4, and 5 girls and Division 1 and 2 Boys and Girls, will be played in Clonaslee Community Centre on Sunday, 25 November.