Group 7 was tipped to be one of the most exciting groups at the European mixed team qualifiers. The seeded team in group 7 was Bulgaria but the group also had Finland who are a very strong team also. Ireland knew going into this event that they were going to have to play their very best badminton if they were going to have any chance of making it to the European finals in February.
The first match up was against the top seeds Bulgaria. This match was one of the opening games, but all the other teams had their eyes firmly fixed on this match knowing that the Irish had a chance of causing an upset. The match followed the script with Ireland winning two of the ties and Bulgaria winning two of the ties before the men’s doubles took to court to decide the match. Sam Magee and Nhat Nguyen showed great determination as they beat Vlaar and Yanakiev of Bulgaria to seal victory for Ireland with the final score Ireland 3 and Bulgaria 2.
In the next match Ireland kept this momentum going as they faced a very dangerous Finnish team. Ireland gave a fantastic team performance in this match beating Finland 4-1. There were many close games in this tie, but the Irish showed some real resolve to win a number of tense matches and take this comprehensive victory.
In the other section of group 7 Norway had beaten both Latvia and Israel to progress to the final against Ireland.
On the final day Ireland and Norway both came out knowing that if they won this match they would make the illusive European mixed team championships finals in Copenhagen in February. In the finals it is the top 8 teams in Europe who have qualified out of their qualification groups and the reigning champions Denmark who will compete for the overall title.
The Irish team gave another fantastic performance to beat Norway and book their place to Copenhagen. To see the results from the final of group 7 click here
“We travelled to Bulgaria knowing that we had a tough challenge ahead if we were going to qualify. I am absolutely delighted with the team’s performance over the week. The team have shown great character with every player contributing to this result. To book a place in the finals and be placed in the top 8 teams in Europe is a huge achievement for Ireland. We will go into the finals on a high after this week and any results we achieve in Denmark will be a bonus to reaching the last 8, which was our primary goal.” High performance and training director Daniel Magee