It proved to be a historic day for IT Tallaght as they were crowned champions of the Student Sport Ireland (SSI) / Badminton Ireland leagues for the first time in their history. The Dublin 24 students had never previously won the top tier, a solitary division two league crown in 2011/2012 was their only maiden success. However, under the guidance of Badminton Ireland licenced coach Mark Topping, they managed to prevail in the final on a score line of 3-2 versus defending champions and local rivals IT Blanchardstown (ITB).
IT Tallaght were deserving winners over the course of the day, but were made to work hard in each of their matches as they overcame Letterkenny IT (LYIT), IT Carlow, and ITB by the narrowest of margins. Their quarter-final tie with LYIT proved to be a pulsating encounter, but wins for team captain Patrick Martin (MS), Irish international Kate Frost (WS), and the mixed pairing of Kate and Jack Lawlor edged them over the line. LYIT can be proud of their efforts, assured displays from Mark Laird/Jack Davies (MD), and Leah Darragh/Victoria Wilson (WD) gave them every chance of progressing, but unfortunately they came up just short, meaning Tallaght progressed to a semi-final meeting with IT Carlow.
The days other quarter-final saw 2016 champions Dundalk IT (DKIT), coached by another licenced coach in Jim Callan, defeat Griffith College Dublin 3-2 to progress to a semi-final with ITB. DKIT, who impressively topped their pool to reach this finals day, couldn’t overturn last year’s defeat to ITB, with Luke Moore and Megan Bredin ensuring the Dublin 15 students recorded another 3-2 win over the Louth students. Ben Ting was impressive in the MS throughout the day for DKIT, and also in the doubles alongside partner Nelson Tang.
Moreover, the second semi-final between IT Tallaght and IT Carlow was ultimately decided by a competitive mixed doubles. Kate Frost recorded a 21-14, 21-17 win over recent SSI/BI WS Open winner Tan Wee Ling to give Tallaght the early impetus, but Ian Wong cancelled that out when winning a narrow two setter in the MS against Patrick Martin, 22-20, 21-19, to tie the match at 1-1. The teams then traded victories in the MD and WD to make it 2-2, before Kate Frost/Jack Lawlor claimed a 21-15, 21-12 win to ensure their advancement to the final, and in the process set up a clash with local rivals ITB.
Unfortunately for a brave Blanchardstown, it was not to be in the final as a deserving Tallaght IT team sealed their place on the SSI Badminton league roll-of honour. With a number of the team eligible again for next year’s league they will hope to become the first college to successfully defend their league crown when the competition restarts for 2018/2019.
A word of thanks to Muriel Moles and Aidan Mullen for officiating at the event.
IT Tallaght Team: Mark Topping (Coach), Patrick Martin (Captain), Jack Lawlor, James Carroll, Kate Frost, Aoife Boylan, Ciara Breen
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