The Curragh Open 2012 has come to a close and in the words of tournament director (and playing in the Mens A) Neil Brannigan, it was a “great weekend for first tour event ever held in the Curragh“. I couldn’t agree more – a friendly atmosphere, food included in the entry fee, ram-packed draws (there was even a Men’s D), and some exciting Squash.
Brian Byrne was the surprise winner of the coveted Men’s A draw, beating Graeme Stewart 3:1 in the finals. Brian was only seeded number ten, but beat his two-seeded brother Rory in the quarter-finals, eliminated three-seed Keith Moran in the semis, and then the top seed Graeme in the finals. In short: there has seldomly been a more deserved winner than Brian! Also, there also haven’t been fitter winners either – Brian’s light-footedness and court coverage are impressive, especially since they never seems to fade. Graeme on the other hand will have been happy with a second place finish following a close call in the quarters, where he needed five sets to overcome Rory Gilligan. Speaking of which, Galway man Gilligan, cousin of Niall Rooney, had to withdraw from the tournament during his 5 – 8 playoff match against Sean Conroy (Rory was 2:1 up), after a horrific injury. Rory seemed to slightly slip when running to the front right corner and was suddenly on the floor in agony. Luckily, the Curragh army hospital is right next to the club, so poor Rory was brought to Naas hospital in the ambulance. And unfortunately our worst fears were came true – doctors diagnosed a torn Achilles tendon, which along with knee injuries, is probably the one injury all athletes dread. We wish Rory a speedy and good recovery.
On a far more positive note, Breanne Flynn won the Ladies A section with a 3:0 win over Claire Staunton. As I mentioned previously, there was a good nine lady entry, with a good number of juniors partaking. Breanne herself is one of Ireland’s top junior players and will have been delighted with a win in a senior competition.
Due to the new format, there was no real winner of the Men’s B section, but the top four players in the B section (basically the semi-finalists) faced off with the Men’s A 13 – 16 bracket, and form what I witnessed the B players all beat the A players (due to injury in one case). Which as far as I can tell, is a nice confirmation of the new format! In the other men’s draws Karam Singh beat Paul Cunningham 3:2 to take the title in the C section, while Mount Pleasant’s Donal Kelly beat John Nolan 3:1.
On a finishing note, I’d like to once again highlight the great work Neil Brannigan has put into running and organising the tournament. With over 70 player participating and only four courts available, it was always going to be tough to keep within the time schedule, but thanks to players being on time for their 9am matches, things didn’t get out of hand. Also, I think a tournament such as this would have been unthinkable to be held in the Curragh a few years ago, but thanks to some great refurbishments on the facilities and courts, the club stood the test of a Grand Prix tournament no problem.
With that, congratulations to all the winners, especially Brian for beating the top three seeded players in the draw, and to Neil (and his wife) and the Curragh Squash Club, for pulling off a great season opener! (Dan Z.)