It’s the weekend when Ireland’s four provinces battle it out for the coveted Senior Interprovincial’s title – this time in the wonderful Galway Lawn Tennis Club! On the bright side: all four provinces were able to send down an A & B team each. On the down side: again no ladies’ competition. Also, as in previous years, there is a notable lack of many players in the top ten of the Irish Grand Prix, with no current national team players attending.
Nonetheless, we have already witnessed some cracking matches and the atmosphere at matches has been intense. Personally, I am a big fan of the Interprovincials and am also responsible for managing the Leinster squad. I played the first time five years ago when Derek Ryan and John Rooney were battling out a close tie between Leinster and Connaught. As I mentioned, we have fewer top ten players attending this year, which on the plus side gives some players lower down the ranking a great opportunity to represent their provinces. And it’s great to see with how much passion these players are on court, trying their utmost best to score a point for their beloved province.
Matches started yesterday, with Ulster – playing with Connor O’Hare and David Ayerst at positions one and two – overcoming Munster. Much to my delight, Kevin Knox is back on the scene representing Munster, after having to battle some back injuries over the past months. Ulster won the close tie nonetheless. Connaught are the title holders and were facing my team, Leinster. Pat Morissey of Freshford gave us a great start coming from 0:2 down to beat Ronan Tully 3:2, but it was downhill from there as Neil Brannigan lost to Ross Lillis, I lost to Niall Rooney, Paul Byrne (playing at three) lost to Connor O’Shea, and U17 player Oisin Logan went down to Keith Moran 1:3.
In this morning’s matches Munster beat Leinster 4:1 (I salvaged an honourable point against Kevin Knox at one) and Ulster were still battling Connaught while I am writing. The first two matches between Adrian Leeson and Ronan Tully, as well as Ross Lillis and Neal Pollock, were both huge five setters, with teams sharing the spoils. But Connaught are slight favourites to beat Ulster and set themselves up for a title defense.
In the B section Leinster were able to beat Connaught yesterday evening, but went down to Munster this morning. Therewith it looks like the title race will be decided between Munster and Ulster.
Following the soon to begin afternoon matches there will be a an official dinner and presentation, followed by further festivities in Galway city center – deserved reward for some tough matches. Dan Zilic
Irish Sport HQ
Sport Ireland Campus