This years 2020 Irish National Championships where held a little different to previous years. Initially postponed from April, Nationals were due to take place on August 22nd and 23rd, however, due to circumstances with COVID-19 this was postponed to the following week after being given the go ahead by Sport Ireland.
Day 1 of the National Championships saw the Mens and Womens Singles take place. After many previous unlucky finals, Ashley Robinson – who was just previously living and playing in Australia with National Irish Coach John Murphy – was finally able to add the Mens National Championship title to his list. Robinson fought hard to take the title against Irish Number One Ryan Farrell winning 3-1 (8,-9,6,9). Farrell overcame upcoming Ulster’s James Skelton in the Quarter-Finals 3-1 (6,5,-8,9), unfortunately for Skelton experience helped Farrell to the win, but providing Skelton with his own experience in playing the Irish Number One. Farrell then met Ulster’s Thomas Earley in the Semi-Finals having to battle hard in order to reach the Final. Earlier Earley provided a good 3-0 win in the Quarter-Finals, unfortunately for Earley this wasn’t his year to reach the final. After taking a 2-0 lead, Farrell stepped up his game and came-back winning 3-2 (-9,-15,2,7,7). 14 year old Jonathan Mooney reached the Quarter Finals after defeating club mate Zak Earley in the Last 16 3-0. Unfortunately for Mooney opponent Art McLaughlin proved to be too strong but still showing a great battle losing 0-3 (-11,-9,-7)
Womens event seen Ulster’s Number One Sophie Earley as top seed for the event, and top seed for a reason. Earley was on target to defended her title by not dropping a set all day. Earley had a straightforward Quarter and Semi-Final respectively winning both 3-0, meeting club mate Lucy McIvor in the Quarter Finals (3,4,8) providing McIvor good experience against a top player, then meeting Erin Thompson in the Semi Finals (8,5,8). Earley came across a tight final to Irish Number Two Mia O’Rahilly Egan – previously crowned National Champion in 2018 – defeating O’Rahilly Egan 3-0 (5,10,11) to retain her Women’s National Championship Title. Earlier O’Rahilly Egan met Ulster’s Anjali Singh in the Quarter-Finals winning 3-1 (7,-8,5,0). This provided great experience for Singh being able to play against one of the top Irish players. Unfortunately for Ulster’s Anna Kelly today wasn’t her day, Kelly reached the Quarter-Finals after being knocked out by Claire Heller 3-0 (-8,-4,-9)
Day 2 of the National Championships saw the Junior and Mini Cadet Singles take place. As the Junior Girls only had 5 entries this meant the girls competed in a round robin style all playing one another. The end result showed Irish Junior Number One Mia O’Rahilly Egan coming out on top not losing a set all day claiming back her title she previously won in 2018. Ulster players Lucy McIvor, Anna Kelly and Emily Flynn all won and lost 2 matches each resulting in count-back. This resulted in Anna Kelly placing Second, Emily Flynn placing Third, Lucy Mcivor placing Fourth and Nicole Larmour placing Fifth.
Junior Boys Final seen Ulsters Tom Colvin take on Art McLaughlin. Colvin battled his way to the final defeating Junior Boys Irish Number One Dillion Byrne 3-1 in the Semi-Final and Ulsters Max Skelton in the Quarter-Finals 3-1. After putting up a good battle unfortunately for Colvin, McLaughlin was too strong on the day losing 0-3 (-4,-4,-6). Ulsters Jonathan Mooney reached the Semi-Final after defeating club mate James Skelton in the Quarter-Final. Unfortunately for Mooney, McLaughlin proven himself a strong opponent again winning 3-0, providing McLaughlin a place in the final.
The final events of the day consisted of the Mini Cadets. Ulsters Anjali Singh (top seed), Niamh Mason (second seed) and Grace Looney (third seed) all proved that they belong in the top three spots. As there were only 5 entries all girls played in a round robin style, Singh winning all her matches to claim the Mini Cadet Girls National Championship Title – previously claiming third in the 2019 National Championships. Mason claiming second after being defeated by club mate Singh and Looney claiming third after being defeated by club mates Singh and Mason.
Mini Cadet Boys seen club mates Matthew Mooney (top seed) and Senan Sheridan (second seed) unsurprisingly reach the final. Mooney showing why he is top seed and claiming the Mini Cadet Boys National Championship Title 3-1. Sheridan earlier beat his brother Peader Sheridan – who is just 9 years old – in the Quarter-Finals. While Mooney defeated Ulster team mate Aedan McGivern in the Semi-Finals 3-2.
Day 3 of the National Championships saw the Cadets and U21 Men Singles take place. The day started off with the U21 Men Singles. Finalist James Skelton won his Quarter-Final 3-2, then defeating club mate Thomas Earley 3-2 (-9,3,-8,10,8) in the Semi-Final. Earley previous defeated Ulster team mate Tom Colvin in the Quarter-Finals 3-1 (10,9,-7,9). Skelton proved himself to be a worthy finalist coming up against Art McLaughlin, Skelton put up a close, tough battle in the final unfortunately being defeated 2-3 (6,-7,3,-6,-10). McLaughlin earlier came up again Ulster’s Zak Earley in the Semi-Final defeating Earley 3-1 (7,10,-9,8)
Cadet Boys top two seeds being Ulster’s and club mates Jonathan Mooney (first seed) and Max Skelton (second seed) unsurprisingly arrived to the final. Both finalists won their Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals easy 3-0. However, the on form Skelton defeated top seed Mooney 3-0 (9,5,8) to claim the Cadet Boys National Title.
The Cadet Girls was the last event to take place of the National Championships. This seen an all Ulster Semi-Final, Lucy Mcivor (top seed) met club mate Anjali Singh in the Semi-Final defeating Singh 3-1 to claim her place in the final. Earlier Emily Flynn defeated Lily Smith in a competitive match, unfortunately for Smith, Flynn had the extra edge winning 3-2 claiming the spot in the final. Mcivor showing everyone why she is top seed defeating Flynn 3-1 to claim the Cadet Girls National Title – previously claiming second in the 2019 National Championships.
Ulsters National Champions 2020
- Mini Cadet Boys – Matthew Mooney
- Mini Cadet Girls – Anjali Singh
- Cadet Boys – Max Skelton
- Cadet Girls – Lucy Mcivor
- Senior Men – Ashley Robinson
- Senior Ladies – Sophie Earley
As it is a difficult for players to train during these uncertain times all of the Ulster players should be very proud of their results in the the Irish National Championship.