Fantastic day of Squash rounded off with Bryan Byrne heroics

Birgit Coufal makes the main draw thanks to some vociferous support from fellow Austrian Jakob Dirnberger

On the second day of the Cannon Kirk Homes Irish Open 2014 the crowd were treated to some exciting qualifying finals. Birgit Coufal of Austria had the honour of kickstarting proceedings with a superb match against Victoria Temple Murray of England. Temple Murray is a tough customer hitting tight crisp shots, but Birgit outwitted her younger opponent with her varied game of drops and flicks. She also said that it helped having some home support in form of Jakob Dirnberger, who supported and coached her throughout her 3:2 victory. The following matches remained at a very high quality, with Tamika Saxby of Australia beating young German Franziska Hennes 3:0, and then Carrie Ramsey of England beating Anna Kilmundokcva of the Czech Republic three games to one. Argentinian Antonella Falcone rounded the day of with a convincing 3:0 victory over Chloe Mesic of France. Looking at the quality on display today it was no wonder that the Irish locals had lost in yesterday’s matches, though they gave a good account of themselves and we were thankful for the ladies making their way down to compete. In particular Griffin Gilanders and Fiona Powers had to come straight from the airport following the European junior team Championships in Finland. While the young girls had their work cut out against strong opposition, we look forward to seeing them come back stronger next year.

In the men’s field local lad Sean Conroy began the day against Douglas Kempsellof Scotland. Sean fought

Today's hero Bryan Byrne, backed in the background by Spaniard Carlos Cornes

valiantly and took the second game thanks to a change of tactics, varying the pace more and using better height (Derek Ryan was in Sean’s corner). The third and fourth were hard fought and Kempsell looked nervous, but he ultimately pulled through 3:1. While Sean was disappointed with the loss, he was happy to have given the good crowd plenty of reason the cheer. Ireland’s number one Arthur Gaskin faces Kempsell tomorrow at 3pm. Next match between Mark Fuller and Steven London was more straight forward, with Mark emplyoing the lob and boast to great effect, finally frustrating his opponent sufficiently and wrapping up the match 3:0. He faces top seed Tom Richards tomorrow. Young Spaniard Carlos Cornes was the next to qualify for the main draw, beating the young Belgian van de Herrwegen 3:0, after a tight tie-break in the first game. The last match was the most dramatic of the day, with Bryan Byrne, who retired from professional Squash some eight years ago, overcame all odds by beating Tom de Mulder of Belgium in five exciting games by three games to two. Byrne’s mobility and quickness were the key here, and he retrieved shot after shot, oftentimes balls the crowd had given up long ago. Byrne faces Australian Ryan Cuskelly at 6pm tomorrow evening.

The busy day begins early tomorrow at 2pm, with all men’s matches being streamed live on From Thursday on both women’s and men’s matches will be streamed – lets hope there’ll still be some reason to cheer on the Irish then! Admission is, as always, free! Dan Z.