Pat claims Polly cup

Pat claims Polly cup

27 March 2024

THE Lecale Table Tennis League Division 2 individual championships which were recently held at the Strangford Table Tennis Club produced another night of exciting action.

Spectators enjoyed an evening of good humoured encounters from competitors who had assembled to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. 

The popular group format is usually hotly contested with the opportunity to move on to the final stages of the competition. 

Group one included Strangford legend Joe McConville, Drumaness player Hugh Scott, and the Owenbeg McEvoy duo of John and the exciting young talent Manus. 

As expected, the experience of McConville and Scott would see their progression to the main but they were made to work for their points by the McEvoy duo. 

The match between Manus McEvoy and Hugh Scott looked like McEvoy was going to cause an upset, winning the first two games before Hugh took the next three to book second place.

In Group two, the current holder, Pat Mulholland, finished in first place but found himself two games down in the opening match with Colin McKinty. 

Pat won the next two but in a nip and tuck fifth the Drumaness number one just got over the line 13-11, with Michael Carey in third place. Dan McEvoy can be pleased with his performances to give him fourth place.

Group three and four involved all Strangford club players. 

Peter Madine, who with only a month or so of competitive play under his belt has been a real find for the club and although he finished in first place, Marion Rooney, Lorna Duffy and the evergreen Cormac Reilly, who finished in second place, should be pleased with their first tournament experience. 

Group four also included home players Niall Houghton, Cormac Reilly, Nuala Hinds and Ann McBride and saw close games full of banter and gamesmanship. 

When the dust settled, it was Niall Houghton, whose coaching has improved the quality of play at the club, who progressed to the final with Cormac Reilly in second place.

In the consolation group semi-finals, Peter Madine did enough to get past Nuala Hinds.

Nuala was delighted to be in the semi-final of a competition as she showed throughout her three-game defeat where she scored well in all games. Well done Nuala.

Niall Houghton then took on Cormac Reilly. Niall may have started favourite to progress to the final but Cormac Reilly is no pushover and was able to bring his previous tennis experience to the table tennis table. 

Cormac won the first game and looked in control but Niall steadied the ship and got home in four games.

That meant Peter Madine and Niall Houghton met in the consolation final.

It was hard to call this one from the outset with both players’ eyes on the top prize. Madine won the first two games before Niall raced into a comfortable lead to clinch the third. However, Madine wasn’t going home empty-handed and a strong finish in the fourth game emerged as the winner.

Onto the main event, and the semi-finals contained matches including Joe McConville versus Pat Mulholland and Colin McGinty against Hugh Scott.

Supported by a home crowd, the former league number one Joe McConville started favourite to add another trophy to his impressive collection. 

But, the current holder Pat Mulholland, who hasn’t played a full season of competitive matches, is still a formidable opponent as McConville knew. 

Joe won the first game but Pat, with his backhand, began firing off winners and took the next two. 

McConville wasn’t finished yet and rallied to take the fourth game. The fifth was a real nip and tuck affair with never more than a point separating both players, but, in the end, it was the Drumaness man who got over the line with a three-point advantage to proceed to his second final.

Meanwhile, the encounter between Colin McGinty and Hugh Scott was another tight contest. 

The Strangford man has a good record of wins over Hugh Scott but this is a tournament and Hugh is a player capable of upsets and on each of the three games match there was very little in it. 

McGinty started well winning the first game 11-7 and the second could have gone either way but Colin got home 13-11. 

The third was equally as close but Colin, with the final in sight, wasn’t going to let his chance slip out of his grasp and got over the line 12-10. Another excellent match from both players.

This meant Pat Mulholland was to face Colin McKinty in the final.

Pat knew that he was fortunate in the group round match when Colin was two games up and had chances in the fourth game before losing in the fifth. 

But, Mulholland with two tournament titles under his belt, is a formidable opponent which showed from the off. 

Firing off winners from his backhand, he took the first two games 11-4. Colin did his best to stem the flow of winners in the third but was never able to recapture the form of the previous rounds, losing the third 11-5 to give Pat the victory. 

Role of honour: Main event Liam Polly Perpetual Cup winner, Pat Mulholland; runner-up, Colin McKinty; Consolation event Megan McManus Shield winner, Peter Madine; runner-up, Niall Houghton; young player of the tournament and Division 2, Manus McEvoy. 

The league committee would like to thank Peter Deeny for doing his usual excellent job as championship referee, Strangford Table Tennis Club for staging this event and for providing the excellent food and refreshments for competitors, and to all who contributed to the Marie Curie Cancer Care fund.