Playing for Munster is still the No.1 goal for the vast majority of players I coach. I was asked at this Junior Interpros by a coach from another province whether the event was still relevant as there were a number of notable absentees at this year’s event. I think for some of those players who play regularly for Irish teams they may have lost the “relevance” but for the vast majority of players the Interprovincial Championships are the highlight of the season and for that reason I would have to say the Interpros are still a very important part of Irish Table Tennis.
The Senior and Junior events were held on back to back weekends this year and James Kelly had his first cap for the senior event. He found the event brought a high pressure environment and this pressure to perform did affect his high standards. At only 15 however this was a great learning experience and left him with the desire to work even harder to have another opportunity. I got the chance to NPC the U21s again this year and I was very pleased with the overall performance of the players.
The Junior Interpros were held in Dublin at DCU and there was a great atmosphere. We had 5 players from West Cork which by my reckoning was an excellent return for all the players’ efforts. I was especially pleased that Niall O’Driscoll gained his first Munster cap after his third attempt at the play offs. Jasmine Kelly was picked for the last event but never got to play and was especially delighted that not only did she get to play but contributed to an excellent Silver medal along with her team mates.
Erik Olsson put in a good performance playing in the U15 team who managed a Bronze medal at this year’s event. Mair Kelly collected Silver with her team mates and played consistently well. This was Mair’s last opportunity to play at the junior event as she moves into seniors next year, how time flies.
Jimini was back at the table once more after missing out on the junior event last year due to a school trip to France. He put in an excellent performance and was delighted to beat Ryan McConkey who he felt was unfairly seeded above him at the recent Irish Nationals. He also managed to reverse his disappointing result against Thomas Early.
Every coach leaves the Interpros with their personal favourite moments and mine was when our 4th player in the U13s Alannah O’Flynn beat Rachael Taylor in our last match of the day to secure a Silver medal for Munster. Alannah is fairly new to the game but showed great strength and composure to see off the Connaught player and for the team to reap the rewards from one of our “weakest” players was a great way to finish off the day.
As I said there was a great atmosphere amongst the Munster players and there was great support from all the parents watching in the gallery. I just wish we, as in Munster, were as supportive all the time, as this would make my own involvement in Munster so much more enjoyable.
The Interpros draws the curtain down on the national domestic season and with the sun shining today we are looking into a summer break. However we still have the International Youth Cup in Belgium to look forward to and we have a great squad of players this year. We are also hoping that there may be an Irish selection to come in June for one of our players.
Locally the clubs are still open and training is on most days of the week. This gives me the opportunity to work on some of our skills awards and concentrate on the players of the future. No rest for us yet but a definite easing up on the pressure of competition.