I’d like to thank the members and staff of Limerick LTC for all their support in hosting this event, the venue was superb, exceeding our expectations, and I look forward to more tournaments in Limerick next season hopefully. A Limerick Open could be on the cards for next season’s calendar perhaps!
Special mention for Barry Hession, and Christy Costelloe for making the event possible, and for giving of their time freely all weekend. The lads helped out in numerous ways over the weekend, including organising accommodation for the teams, had the courts in pristine condition on our arrival, helped organise all the food for the event and were generally a great help to me throughout the weekend with a lot of odd jobs.
IT was a very generous gesture of LLTC to give freely of their facilities for the duration of the tournament, and I sincerely hope it is only the beginning of a resurgence of squash at the club.
I’d also like to thank Irish Squash for supporting this event, and Paul Nugent in particular for making the trip to Limerick to set up the web camera for the event. Despite our best efforts we were unable to get the matches to stream live online, but we did record the matches on the show-court so I’m informed that some clips should be up on youtube in the coming days for anyone to catch up on the matches.
Friday afternoon circa 4pm the men’s B teams from Munster and Ulster arrived at the Limerick club to do battle to start proceedings for the tournament.
Munster took an early lead, winning the first two matches at numbers 5 and 4, before Ulster came back to win the 3rd match between the number 1s. Munster held on to win what proved to be the deciding match of the tie between the number 2s to go up 3-1, and also took the final dead rubber match. claiming a 4-1 win for the host province.
Leinster B had a BYE as Connacht B unfortunately had to pull out.The A matches commenced straight after the B matches finished, around 6pm,
Munster and Ulster had a great battle in the A also. The number 5s went to a 5th set in a closely contested match. Munster managed to win, and followed up with a win at number 4 also. After that good start it set up an important pressure-cooker of a match between the number 1s. A titanic match resulted in Munster nicking the win in a tie-break in the 5th set, to give the home province the tie.
The other matches went 1 a piece, so the final result was 4-1 to Munster.
Leinster and Connacht was to be the closest fought contest of the weekend, and on the centre court the crowd grew as the matches progressed.
Leinster took the first two matches, at 5 and 4, before Connacht got going, and then Connacht staged their come-back.
After Connacht winning at 1 and 3, the sides were then level, and the deciding match was incredibly tense. A bit of a see-saw match ensued, with Leinster taking a 2-love lead before Connacht came back stronger, winning the following 2 games and taking a big lead in the 5th. Again a fantastic show of courage saw the Leinster player pull it back to get into contention, with possibly the best of squash on display from both players from the entire weekend. However it was to be Connacht’s day as they edged the match and hence took the tie 3-2.
On Saturday morning play began around 10 o’clock, with the B teams back in action once again.
This time it was Leinster and Ulster doing battle.
The matches went each way for the first 4 matches to see it tied at 2-all, before the number 2 players took to the court for the decider.
The excitement grew around the centre court as the final match of the tie wore on.
They traded a game each before the match really got very tense. The 3rd and 4th games both went to tie-breakers, taking a game each to set up the final game as the decider for the tie.
All eyes were on centre court as Leinster proceeded to build up an early lead. The ulster player managed to make some inroads and cut into the lead somewhat, before the Leinster player pushed on again to set up 5 match-balls. Ulster contained one match-ball before succumbing, the lead proving to have been too great, and Leinster took the tie 3-2.
Munster B had a BYE in the morning over Connacht B.
The A players took to the court around 11am and the two winning teams from the previous round were to meet, as Munster faced Connacht.
Alas, it was not to be the classic encounter that the crowd may have hoped for.
The Connacht team were strengthened with reinforcements from the previous night while Munster had an injury to their number 1 and thereby the other players had to move up the ranks. After narrowly losing out in the first match, Munster were to add to their misfortune as the Munster number 4 had to concede his match mid-way due to injury.
That set up a decider between the number 1 players.
After the first two games were won convincingly by Connacht, the Munster player showed great determination to fight back and take the 3rd game to a tie-break, before agonisingly losing out and thereby handing the tie to Connacht.
To add further insult to injury Connacht went on to win the last two matches to make it 5-0, showing no trace of complacency, and a good sign of a champion side, and a vision of what was to come in the afternoon.
Leinster beat Ulster 4-1 in the other tie of the morning, effectively handing the tournament to Connacht, who couldn’t be caught at that stage, due to having already beaten both Munster and Leinster, and therefore even had they lost to Ulster in the afternoon they would still have the deciding head-to-head result over the other two provinces, while Ulster had lost both ties up to that point.
The highlight of that tie was the match between the No.4s while the tie was still in the balance, which went to the wire before Leinster took the spoils in the 5th, to go up 2-0 in matches after already winning at No.5. Ulster struck back by winning the No.1 encounter, but Leinster were not to be beaten and snuffed out Ulster hopes by winning the remaining 2 matches 3-0.The Leinster Ladies A Team travelled to take on the hosts Munster Ladies A. It was great to see the ladies teams back in action after a long hiatus at the interpros. Connacht Ladies and Ulster Ladies were unfortunately unable to form teams to take part.
Leinster managed to defeat the hosts, a convincing 5-0 scoreline doesn’t to justice to the closeness of some of the games, but the better team deservedly won on the day.
A credit to the Munster Ladies’ Captain, Mandy Collins, for her tireless efforts in organising the ladies event this season.
Hopefully this is a beginning of things to come, and next season we hope to see teams from 3 if not 4 provinces in Connacht for the 2017 Interpros.
The afternoon matches yet served up some more entertaining squash, as Munster and Leinster were to fight it out for a runners-up place in the A, and for the winners place in the B, while Ulster A played Connacht A to try to restore some pride to the province. Ulster B had a walkover and were able to relax and enjoy the other matches as mentioned already that Connacht B didn’t field a team.
The B matches were first, and there was great support for the home team. A win for either team would see them champions as both had already beaten the Ulster B team and Connacht B had no team.
Leinster won at number 5, both young players showing their promise, but the Leinster player was on better form to win it on the day.
Munster not to be outdone came back and won the No.4’s contest. The Munster player had to dig deep and work hard to find a way back after going 2-love down due to a very creditable display from his Leinster counter-part. The Munster player managed to turn the tide in his favour and won his match to level the sides on 1 match each.
I had the privilege of refereeing the No.1 match between two very creative players, which despite being on the quieter court served up some fascinating shots and some really tight rallies.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that there should be plenty more to see from both players in years to come, as the potential is definitely there for improvement which is very encouraging.
The Munster player was unlucky in the first 2 games, after 2 game balls in the first and 3 game balls in the second, found himself 2-love down. Credit to the young Leinster player for fighting back as the games were not given up easily.
Munster had not given up either by that point, and bravely made a dramatic come-back to level the scores 2-all to take us into a 5th set.
Some of the squash on display was the equivalent of the A standard, with trickery and guile on show to match anything seen that weekend.
The Munster player took an early lead, and astonishingly overruled the referee to call his own ball down in what was deserving of an award for fair play.
However, that call allowed the Leinster player back in to serve and proved to be a turning point as the points were subsequently racked up and took up a commanding lead at 10-5.
With 5 match-balls, it only took the one attempt to seal it, and it was to be the Leinster player’s day as he took the match 3-2.
The No. 3 and No.2 players took to the court at roughly the same time, as the score stood 2-1 in Leinster’s favour.
The Munster No.2 managed to win his match 3-1 before the No.3 match finished. So the tie and the tournament was therefore in the balance.
All attention turned to the show-court then as there was a rush to get over to view the last couple of games and the seats filled up for the grand finale.
The Leinster player took an early lead, serving some exquisite high lobs taking full advantage of the high ceiling, and dominated the T in the early exchanges.
The Muster player managed to bring it back to 2-all and set us up for an enthralling finish.
Alas for Munster, it was to be Leinster’s day, as they held on to win the match 3-2 and the tie overall, 3-2.
It was truly a great finish to the B event, considering there were three 3-2 scorelines, and it went right down to the final point to win it.
Congratulations to Leinster B team, some of the players will no doubt be very involved in the A section in years to come.
In the A matches in the afternoon, commencing directly after the B matches finished, Munster lost the first two matches to Leinster again agonisingly on scorelines of 3-2, 3-2.
The Munster number 1 came up trumps and won the 3rd match 3-0 to keep them in it.
The penultimate match was an absolute cracker, perhaps the most supported match of the weekend, with a large home crowd cheering and applauding each rally on the show-court.
The referee had to make some tough calls but fair play to him for maintaining an impartial view on every decision.
The players fought hard and traded games up to 2-all, before Munster went into an almost unassailable lead, with no less than 6 match balls. The Leinster player showed great determination and belief to fight back to a tie-break, which is to be expected from a currently ranked No.1 in Europe in his age grade. With the tie in the balance the Leinster player managed to seal the win for Leinster and take the match.
Leinster also won the dead rubber to finish on a final scoreline of 4-1 to ensure their runners-up position.
Connacht again did the business to cap it off with the maximum of 3 wins over the other provinces, with a scoreline of 4-1 over Ulster.
The scoreline doesn’t do justice to the tightness of the encounter however, and Ulster could well have won the tie but for a bit of luck, and a bit of experience perhaps showing to good effect for the Connacht players in the end. We were left debating which of the Connacht team were the MVP (Most Valuable Player) having won the tournament but I think the 1,2, and 3 combination were equally important in a true team effort, each winning all 3 of their matches. Congratulations to Connacht on winning for the second time in recent years. Perhaps Munster is somewhat of a lucky venue for Connacht as I believe last time they won was in Cork 4 years ago if I remember correctly!
Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable feast of squash, which was followed by a delicious feast in the LLTC clubhouse by caterers Hook & Ladder. We were spoiled with the quality of the food all weekend, so many thanks for that to Christy Costelloe and to Hook & Ladder for looking after us so well.We hope to see a bigger tournament next season in Connacht, with more teams and bigger participation from as many of our top players as possible.
Lastly, a big thanks to all who came to Limerick support the event, and to the players for exhibiting their talents on the court, and especially to those that stayed for the presentation and enjoyed a night on the town with us afterwards.
|Sandra Gleeson Walshe
Martin J. McDonnell