European U19 Individual Championships 2024 Daily Reports

Day 1

Bucharest welcomes u19s from across Europe for this years edition and so far are doing a superb job so far. They have a wonderful open plan venue with a central glass court, great hotel, great food and very friendly. These are all within walking distance of each other which is great for the players. Plenty of sunshine too, couldn’t ask for more. 

On a busy opening day of action, Lydia McQuillan got us underway, battling a strong Polish player. Lydia couldn’t find her rhythm often enough, unfortunately going down in 3 games. She had her chances but was unable to capitalise on them – frustrating in round one. Showing terrific resilience and learning quickly, Lydia bounced back in tremendous fashion, making light work of her Greek opponent in her second match, winning comfortably in straight games. 

Sara took to the glass show court for her opener, dismantling her Hungarian opponent in 3. She then progressed onto a much more stern contest in the 7th seed from Wales, Ellie Breech. Sara played some of the best squash she has ever played, aggressive and consistent, but the Welsh girl had the answers for her attacks and prevailed in 3 competitive games.

Ella had a flying start, playing against a fairly evenly matched opponent from Austria, she battled hard, picked everything up and ground out point after point to come away victorious in very impressive fashion. This victory set up a clash with the no.3 seed from Germany, on the glass. This was a new experience for Ella and no doubt a big one to learn from! She lost in 3 but can hold her head high.

Frank O’Flynn also played a Hungarian seeded opponent. Similarly to Ella, he was working overtime in all the rallies and causing mayhem for his opponent. Frank tried everything and pushed as hard as possible but in the end ran out of steam. A solid performance from the 16 year old, plenty to come in future Euros no doubt.

Sean Murphy was next up. Lots of eyes on Sean as he returned from Drexel University, Philadelphia, to compete in his final junior event. He was excluded from the seeding and subsequently got a tough draw. First up a talented polish player who put up a good fight in the first against Sean, but couldn’t sustain the pace Sean was setting, resulting in a terrific straight games win for Sean. He then moved on to a formidable opponent in Melvil Scianimanico, One of the classiest and formidable junior players in the world. This was a tantalising battle and very entertaining for the neutral spectators. Not so enjoyable for the Irish as no matter what Sean did, his French opponent could counter with something better. Sean played well but couldn’t find a way to break down the no.3 seed, succumbing to defeat. 

Tristan played a powerful Czech player. Not too dissimilar to the match up Sean had, Tristan threw the kitchen sink at his opponent but couldn’t seem to break him down. Playing good structured squash, Tristan would set up opportunities for himself to attack but if it wasn’t perfect, his Czech opponent was able to turn the tables and find a way to win in a 3-0 victory against Tristan

Danny Lynch was due to play a Danish player but his opponent unfortunately couldn’t compete due to illness. Danny moved onto the next round to play no.2 seed and world no.3 David Bernet. What a challenge it was. Danny played out of his skin, pushing the Swiss point for point in the opener! Danny was unlucky not to take it, being squeezed out from 9-9. He continued to work the whole court and kept pressing, reaping rewards for his attacking volleys and tenacious retrieving. In the end, a bridge too far for now but definitely one of the Galway man’s finest performances.

Day 2

Day 2 saw another jammed packed day of squash with some players having two matches, others just one. As ever at European championships, the quality runs so deep that all matches are testing!

Frank was on the glass first thing, against Nero Harms from Switzerland. A fine display of squash from Prionsíos, especially in the third which he could have closed out, but unfortunately went down in 3. Later in the evening he had a Norwegian player in his sights. Frank battled hard but lost the fight with a lack of consistency but showing real promise.

Tristan featured twice on day 2 also. First against a Greek player that caused little trouble, with Tristan dispatching him with comfort. His second match was against a skilful Dutch player who could have been more difficult, however Tristan swept both players away with relative ease and now will hope to carry his good form deeper into his section of the draw.

Lydia had just one match against a talented local player. It was super close and for the three games it was nip and tuck right to the end of each but no joy for Lydia. Her best performances will come as she grows into the event!

Sara had a tight 3/1 match against a powerful Bulgarian. Coming out the losing end of the battle, she had her chances, especially to force a 5th from a leading position, but it was not to be. Glimpses of her brilliance on display, no doubt by the time the team event starts Sara will be firing on all cylinders.

Ella Walsh was doing some trojan work in her match against one of France’s best juniors. Before the match Ella was not expecting much but found herself right in the thick of every game. For the 16 year old, this will be invaluable experience and being exposed to this level will only bring her on more and more. Losing in 3, but gaining untold experience and inspiration.

In a battle of the left handers Sean Murphy took on Fabien Seitz, another Swiss. Sean trailed early but could always go to the locker for a bit more and was never in any real trouble. Closing out a 3-0 victory with too much in his arsenal for the Swiss to handle.

Danny Lynch had an incredibly close tussle with another lefty, Jane Samborski from Poland. They shared the first two games but Danny was edged out in the 3rd and 4th, 13-11 and 12-10. Devastating to lose when it was so close but a solid performance and will go into tomorrow feeling like he can capitalise on some very well structured squash, just needing the finishing touches.

To close day 2, the team ventured into the old town of Bucharest for dinner, a welcome change of scenery. We were all pleasantly surprised at the beauty of the place, and how reasonable it was. Definitely will be going back in for a more detailed gander on our rest day.

Day 3 & 4

Day 3 & 4 saw lots of squash including the conclusion of the main draw finals and all our Irish players in action.

The team was up early for 8am practices before matches kicked off on both days, mainly for players with later start times and looking to sharpen their tools. Lots of inspiration on display and you could team Ireland were looking to perform to their best after either playing the best or watching the best players here.

Sean was spectacular. He lost only one match the entire event and that was to the finalist, Melvil. For Sean, most of his first games this event were tough work, but the pressure he applied to his opponents in those first games seemed enough to break them. This was certainly the case against Dylan Roberts, the English no.1 U17. Sean showcased his mental superiority and fended off Dylan in his final match of the individual event, winning 3-0.

Danny had some mega battles. Out of his 4 matches he played 8 tie breaker games, his last match against a German went over the hour mark where he saved 5 match balls but eventually fell short 12-10 in the 5th. Some amazing athleticism on display, a rest before the team event will certainly be welcomed for him!

Tristan was similar, big battles on the final days play after some easier matches on day 3. on Day 4 he went toe to toe with a giant Swiss player and had him in all sorts of trouble, at one stage we thought the Swiss was about to vomit on court from all the running. But he somehow couldn’t finish the job after a tantalisingly close battle, losing in 5.

Frank finished his event with a victory over a Greek opponent, he will have gained invaluable experience and he put in some very fun displays of squash in what seemed like a never ending amount of matches for the youngster.

Sara had a topsy turvy few matches, getting her sole win against compatriot Ella. The two girls put in a serious effort all week long and will be proud of themselves!

Same with Lydia, a giant effort for every match. Winning against a Norwegian player but falling short in her final match against a talented German.

Sara and Lydia will have many more contests in the teams this week, with Ella having gained the experience for future years!

The finals of the main draw were fairly breathtaking, retrieval skills I haven’t witnessed in years coming to these events, warriors battling each other for almost 1hr 20min of play in the case of the men. Well worth watching back on the ESF youtube page for anyone interested.

The team event starts Thursday. We are drawn with Switzerland, Germany and Hungary, a stern tests await us. The team will be Sean Murphy, Danny Lynch, Tristan Snodgrass, Sara Sabry and Lydia McQuillan.

Massive thank you to David Noone, our coach travelling with the team for the updates!