The Irish Team was Paul Reynolds, Mark Gannon, Clodagh Dunne, Niamh Gannon (all Leinster), Kyle Magee, Rachel Woods, Beth Stephenson (all Ulster), Adam McAllister (Connacht), Lana Browne and Brian O’Mahony (Munster). The Team Manager was Ben Caldwell and the Team Coach Naomi Darragh.
The meeting time was an early 4.30am at Dublin Airport on Thursday 1st May. We arrived in Cardiff around 7.15am where a minibus brought the team to the Holiday Inn in the centre of Cardiff, which was the official hotel for the event. It was a case of relaxing for the morning until lunch as check in was not until 2pm. After settling in it was time to head to the Welsh National Sports Centre which was only a 5 minute walk through the beautiful Sophia Gardens, right across the road from the Hotel. The National Sports Centre caters for every sport from gymnastics, boxing, netball, basketball, judo, hockey, cricket, 50m outdoor shooting range, squash and many more. The hall was set up with 6 top class courts, restringing facilities, and excellent seating. The players practiced various routines and played matches to get used to the hall. It was then back to the hotel for dinner and an early night after the long day.
Nearly every player on the team was familiar with the opposition as they had travelled recently to open tournaments in the UK, as well as playing in the English U17 intercounty event in Nottingham, the European U15 Championships in Basel and of course the Celtic U15 Challenge which was held in Ennis.This did not make the task any easier for the team event on the Friday.The opening ceremony at 9.30am started with all 4 teams walking into the hall with their flag. After several speeches it was down to business. Some of the English and Scottish players go to schools that are dedicated to badminton, and specialise in singles , doubles or mixed. The standard of play was incredible and although Ireland fought for every point, and a lot of three setters they were defeated by England (8-1) and Scotland (8-1). Ireland however pulled out all the stops in the match against Wales to win 6-3. That evening the team went into Cardiff to a nearby Pizza restaurant for a relaxing meal.
On Saturday and Sunday it was the individual events in singles and Mixed and Doubles. The boys doubles final on the Sunday was the match of the tournament and resulted in a victory for Paul Reynolds and Kyle Magee over Matthew and Christopher Grimley of Scotland with a score line of 21-19,12-21, 24-22. It was a match to remember with the Irish duo showing great fighting spirt to pull through in a nail biting third set. It was hard to separate the two pairs but Paul Reynolds experience really showed through at the critical moments in the game where he showed fantastic leadership to his younger partner Kyle who also responded brilliantly to the support of his team mate who had raised his game as the tournament had progressed. They had beaten the English no 1 pair in a cracking semi-final. For an Irish pair to win the Quadrangular boys doubles is very rare. Darryl Eade and Amir Intisar from Ennis were also successful in 1995.
It was a fitting way to end a fantastic weekend. It was then back to Dublin arriving at 10.30 pm on the Sunday. I would like to thank Ben and Naomi for their fantastic organisation and coaching over the three days. It is without doubt an event every child should aspire to play in.
For more information go to http://www.badmintonireland.
For 55 pictures of the event go go to https://www.facebook.com/