It was a tough European Mixed Team Championship campaign for the Irish Team as they lost out to stronger Swedish and English sides. The team performed very well in both matches but were unable to overcome higher ranked opposition.
Match 1 Ireland v Sweden
It was a tough start for Ireland as they lost out to a solid Swedish team.
Scott Evans was the first player on court as he faced Henri Huskainen. Huskainen like Scott has been a lead figure in his countries team for many years now and like Scott was hoping to get his team off to a winning start.
It was Evans (pictured left) who looked the more dangerous player in the opening game as he beat his higher ranked opponent 21-15. In the second game Evans continued to dominate and was looking in a good position as he led 14-10. The Swede bounced back at this stage of the game winning 9 consecutive points before Evans broke his rhythm. Henri's Rhythm wasn't broke for long however as he took the second game 21-15. Henri led the whole way through the third game with Evans only bringing the game close towards the end as he drew back to 19-20. At 19-20 a missed serve from Evans cost him the match as Huskainen put the first point on the board for Sweden.
Ireland's other Olympian Chloe Magee was next up. Magee faced a new member for the Swedish team, the up and coming Emma Karlsson. Karlsson took control of the game from the opening points and never looked back. Magee did manage to get back into the game briefly as she drew even in the second game at 13-13. Karlsson pushed on from this point again and sealed another match for Sweden winning 21-14 21-14.
Sweden now led 2-0 and Ireland had to take the next game to stay in the tie. The 2015 European Bronze medalists Sam and Joshua Magee (pictured right) took to the court to face Richard Eidestedt and Nico Ruponen. The Irish had faced the Swedish pair twice this year already in international competition and the score was 1 win each. The match itself lived up to the hype with the tie going to the deciding game. The Swedish took the opener 21-19, but the Irish bounced back to take the second game 21-16. In the deciding game the Irish had two match points that they failed to convert but at 23-22 the boys in green finally got the match across the line to take Ireland's first point of the match.
With Sweden leading 2-1 next up it was Ireland's youngest pairing Sara Boyle and Rachael Darragh (pictured left). The Irish faced Clara Nistad and Emma Wengberg. The Swedish pair had just recently won the Swedish International and showed their class as they took the opening game 21-14. The Irish fought hard in the second and brought the game close at 15-18. The experience of the Swedes came through at this point as they went on to take the second game 21-17. This win secured the Swedish team the match with only the mixed left to play.
Sam Magee and Chloe Magee were set to play the mixed but after a few points the pair had to withdraw due to an injury concern to Sam.
Photos credits: Mark/Ben Phelan Badminton Europe.
Match 2 Ireland v England
Nhat Nguyen (pictured right) made his first appearance in a European Mixed Team Championship Final as he took to the court to face England's Toby Penty. Nguyen who took the European under 17 championship title in Lubin was back on a familiar court as he took on this more experienced and higher ranked opponent. Penty who has recently made the final of Estonia and won the Swedish international series was a big favourite going into this match. Nguyen fought hard but was unable to replicate his previous success on Polish soil, as he lost out 21-18 21-17.
England continued to dominate the match as Fontaine Chapman took out Rachael Darragh in the women's singles. Darragh fought well in the opening game however, Chapman showed her physical edge as took the match in straight games.
This was followed by an exciting men's doubles as the Olympic bronze medal pairing of Chris Langridge and Marcus Ellis took out Joshua Magee and Nhat Nguyen. Joshua had won earlier in the day with his brother Sam but unfortunately Sam was unable to play in this match due to an injury concern. Nguyen and Magee fought hard but were out-played losing in two games 21-9 21-12.
Next on court was the women's doubles where the English pairing of Lauren Smith and Sarah Walker beat Sara Boyle and Sinead Chambers with another convincing win.
This left the mixed doubles where Ireland had their two three-time Olympians Scott Evans and Chloe Magee (pictured left) facing tough opposition in Chris and Gabby Adcock. The English pairing who are ranked 8 in the world showed their class winning the match 21-15 21-16.
Ireland once again finished in the top 12 teams in Europe after coming through a tough qualification group. They will look to build upon the performances this week and will take away a number of positives, with the younger players gaining valuable experience.
There has been a great balance in the team with the older players passing on their knowledge to the players coming through, while the older players went out and continued to display the determination and pride off wearing the green Irish jersey.
The team thank everyone for the support and they look forward to their next Irish campaign.
Photo credits: Mark/Ben Phelan Badminton Europe
For the full results of both matches click on this link.
If you want to re-watch some of the matches follow this link.