Irish Masters Review
10 April 2017
The 2017 FZ Forza Irish Masters Open saw 129 players from around Europe compete at the National Indoor Arena, Dublin. The competition was held between 7th-9th April and was available for players over the age of 35 with the eldest age group being the over 70 division.
The men’s singles category opened the tournament on Friday 7th April. The first category of the tournament was decided when Jim Callan beat Tommy McGrath in the Men’s O65 division. This result was quickly followed by the Men’s Over 70 division, which saw Tony Clarke win his first of two titles. Tony needed to overcome losing his first game 17-21 to Bob Evans. After a closely fought encounter, Tony was able to finish off his opponent by winning the next two games 21-18 & 21-16 to secure the trophy. The first day concluded with Brian Moore winning the Over 45 division with a 2-1 victory over Cathal Sheeny.
Saturday saw the Women’s singles take the court as well as the Men’s and Women’s Doubles. Englishwoman Caroline Hale had a very successful day, winning both the singles Over 45 title as well as winning the Over 45 doubles with Elizabeth Austin. This would give her the opportunity to win all three divisions when she would compete with Brian Juul in the mixed doubles on Sunday.
The Over 45 doubles final was a thriller of a match between Willie Stevenson & Mark Topping who took on Michael Watt & Michael Turkington. The team of Watt/ Turkington won the first set 21-16. The end of the game allowed Stevenson/ Topping to regroup and come out more focused in the second game. The team of Stevenson & Topping produced an excellent performance with some clinical touches to win 21-6. This set up the title being decided in a final game. Both teams traded points with long rallies but Stevenson & Topping were just too strong on the day and won the game 21-14.
Sunday was the final day of the tournament which finished with the mixed doubles category. Tony Clarke was denied three titles when he was beaten by Barbra McGrath & Tommy McGrath in the mixed doubles Over 65. Tony and his partner Brenda Connolly played a tight three games against Barbra and Tommy. With every point being so important, Barbra & Tommy were able to edge out their opponents in a well-played match (21-18, 24-26, 21-17).
After a brilliant semi-final against Mark Topping & Dorothy McCullough (21-19, 17-21, 21-18), Brian Juul & Caroline Hale would play the number one seeds Willie Stevenson & Sylvia Campion in the mixed doubles Over 45 final. Caroline Hale was looking to win her third title of the weekend. The match started off with a high tempo and long rallies. Teams would trade points back and forth which created great excitement for the crowd. Brian and Caroline finished the game in a strong position and were able to win 21-17. You would think after playing two days of badminton that the game may drop in quality towards the end but both teams seemed to up their game. Willie and Sylvia traded points and looked at times as if they could potentially bring the game into a third game. However, Brian and Caroline were able to win some vital points that saw them lift the O45 mixed doubles division. A very successful tournament came to an eventful end.
Badminton Ireland would like to thank all the players that entered the event and especially all those who travelled. BI would also like to thank all the volunteers including umpires for this event.