Two time Olympian Chloe Magee was embraced by her team and she won her crucial game today booking Ireland’s place at the European Mixed Team Championships in Belgium next February. This is the first time Ireland has qualified in the history of the tournament.
Having beaten Norway and Slovakia, Ireland faced Bulgaria on the last day of group 6 qualifications. Baldoyle badminton centre in Dublin was full of Irish supporters cheering as Chloe Magee led the team out for the opening ceremony.
Chloe and brother Sam faced Bulgarian’s Stilian Makarski and Dimitria Popstoykova in the opening game. With a neck and neck start Ireland pulled ahead despite strong opposition from the Bulgarians the Irish pair took the first set 21-16.
Signs of frustration could be seen from the Bulgarian team as Ireland came out swinging in the 2nd set to take a decisive lead. Both sides battled hard in a match fraught with rallies, however, the Irish where not to be outdone on home soil and took the match in 2 sets
Scott Evans took the court next for his 50th Irish cap against Blagovest Kistov hoping to improve on yesterday’s game described by the Irish man as his worst performance in months. Kistov, a much tougher opponent, came out with a strong attack. Both players exchanged points with Evans maintaining a slight advantage and eventually wining the set 21-16.
Evans played with more confidence in the 2nd set, spurred on by the home crowd whose cheers filled the hall with every point from the Irish man. Evans took the 2nd set 21-15 giving Ireland a 2-0 lead on Bulgaria.
It all came down to the woman who led the team on court. Chloe Magee faced former world number 10 Petya Nedelcheva in a crucial match, both players separated by a few points on the rankings and history favouring the experienced Bulgarian.
The two times Irish Olympian started strong taking the lead in the first set and comfortably beating Nedelcheva by 21 points to 13. A confident Magee took control in the 2nd set taking a commanding lead early on to win the match 21- 08 securing Irelands place in the European Mixed Team Championships for the first time ever.
Following this defeat a deflated Bulgarian side struggled to fend off men’s doubles pairing of Scott Evans and Sam Magee who comfortably won 21-09, 21-09.
In the women’s doubles Bulgarians Petya Nedelcheva and Dimitria Popstoykova beat Sinead Chambers and Jennie King 21-07, 21-12 for Bulgaria’s only win of the day.
Ireland will now join Europe’s elite in Belgium next February.