Birr and Clara teams win Offaly U-16 badminton blitz

Covid-19 played havoc with badminton and other indoor sports, forcing Offaly competitions to clash with Mock Exams and other sporting events, but this did not deter St. Brendan’s Community School from fielding both boys and girls teams in the Offaly U16 Badminton Post-Primary school blitz. Other schools participating were Ard Scoil Chiarán Naofa Colaiste Naomh Cormac and Sacred Heart.
U16 Girls: St. Brendan’s girls totally dominated their competition, dropping only 2 games over their 4 matches. St. Brendan’s led off against Sacred Heart 3. The four singles players, Clodagh Loughnane, Eabha McDowell, Caoimhe Ginty, and Aoife Stokes held their Sacred Heart opponents, Angel Peoma, Diya Sateesh, Kamile Verbickja, and Amna Asif, to single digit scores.
The doubles games were much closer, but St. Brendan’s still prevailed. Clodagh Loughnane and Emma Vaughn outscored Angel Peoma and Kamile Verbickja 15/11 and Eabha McDowell and Roisin Kinsella slipped past Diya Sateesh and Rinan Elobaid 15/13. St. Brendan’s next met Sacred Heart 1. Alyannah Martinez was the spoiler for Sacred Heart when at 14-all, she scored the final point to defeat Caoimhe Ginty 15/14 in 3rd singles.
Avrit Machado came close for Sacred Heart in 2nd singles, losing 15/13 to Eabha McDowell. In this match, St. Brendan’s dominated the doubles, allowing only single digit scores in both games. For St. Brendan’s, Sorcha Tierney replaced Roisin Kinsella in 2nd doubles. The Sacred Heart 1 team was Nandana Anilkumar, Avrit Machado, Alyannah Martinez, Ana Primorac and Elizabeth Aubin. Colaiste Naomh Cormac were the next challengers for St. Brendan’s. CNC started the match with only 3 players, so were down 2 games and 30 points before the first shuttle was hit. St. Brendan’s showed CNC no mercy.
Megan Rosney in 3rd singles managed to score in double digits, and Ciara Doyle and Brianna Commins gave Clodagh Loughnane and Caoimhe Ginty a fright, but the St. Brendan’s girls held their nerve and scored a 15/14 win. Eabha McDowell and Aoife Strokes were the 2nd doubles pair, but had no opponents to test them. St. Brendan’s final opponents were Sacred Heart 2, the second strongest team in the competition.
St. Brendan’s were lucky to escape a draw, but again the shear competitiveness of the Birr girls prevailed. Jamila Mokrani pushed Caoimhe Ginty to 14-all before Caoimhe scored the 15th point. In the 1st doubles, Clodagh Loughnane and Roisin Kinsella got a fright from Andzhi Plugchieva and Adriana Strombeau before winning 15/14. Hannah Duffy and Jamila Mokrani finally made the breakthrough for Sacred Heart 2, winning 15/14. Stephanie Lalor was the 5th member of the Sacred Heart 2 team. With one round of games remaining, St. Brendan’s girls with 22 of a possible 24 points couldn’t be caught for the Winners’ title.
Their strong showing against St. Brendan’s indicated Sacred Heart 2 was a strong contender for the Runner-up spot, and this proved to be true, finishing on 13 points. The real battle was for third place. Colaiste Naomh Cormac were always at a disadvantage, but were able to rack up points against all teams except St. Brendan’s. Sacred Heart 3 claimed the 3rd spot with 9 points, 2 against SH2, 4 against SH1 and a 3-all draw with CNC. CNC finished of 8 points, 1 ahead of SH1 with 7. St. Brendan’s will represent Offaly in Division 2 Leinster finals and Sacred Heart 2 will represent Offaly in Division 3.
U16 Boys: If St. Brendan’s girls dominated their competition, the Ard Scoil Chiarán Naofa boys where even more dominate.
The team of Myles Handy, Greg Byrne, Liam Flynn, Kevin Gavin and Jamie Regan lost no games in their 3 matches, finishing with a perfect score of 18. Several of the ASCN boys had played on Offaly teams in Leinster competitions before Covid-19. put a stop to badminton action. Their experience showed when they only allowed 10 scores in 3 games and the rest were single digits when they met St. Brendan’s. Antonio Paz, Ben Hogan and Caelum Larkin and Ben Hogan in doubles were top scorers for St. Brendan’s.
Other team members were Charlie Loughnane and Cathal D’Arcy. Pablo Huertas, the 6th member of the team, was unable to play due to a hand and wrist in plaster. Ard Scoil Chiarán Naofa made quick work of Colaiste Naomh Cormac 1. The team of Conor Lambe, Eamonn Molloy, Conor Heffernan, and Mikey Kilmartin never got out of single digit scores against their ASCN opponents. The story was the same when Ard Scoil Chiarán Naofa met Colaiste Naomh Cormac 2. ASCN scored their third emphatic 6-0 victory against James Perry, Conor Delaney, Cormac Nugent, Matthew Barnes and Dylan Boland. St. Brendan’s CS gave notice when they played Colaiste Naomh Cormac 2 that they had serious intents on representing Offaly in Leinster.
St. Brendan’s altered their line-up slightly with Cathal D’Arcy replacing Charlie Loughnane in 4th singles and Charlie replacing Ben Hogan in 2nd doubles. CNC2 also made slight changes with Cormac Nugent playing singles and Matthew Barnes taking Cormac’s place in doubles. St. Brendan’s scored a resounding 6-0 win. CNC1 also scored a 6-0 win against CNC2. Coming into their head to head, St. Brendan’s and CNC1 were level on games won, with St. Brendan’s well ahead on points scored, 139-124. If CNC1 were to stop St. Brendan’s march to Dublin, they would have to win the match or earn a draw and score big wins and rack up big points in their loses.
Conor Lambe, CNC with Antonio Paz in 1st singles. The boys fought one of the longest games in the boys’ contests.
When the last shuttle hit the floor, Conor Lambe was the winner, 1 point for CNC. Caelum Larking evened the score for St. Brendan’s when, after another long game, he finished 15/12 ahead of Eamonn Molloy. Conor Heffernan, CNC, and Ben Hogan, St. Brendan’s fought the crunch game of the match.
At 14-all, Conor lost concentration and the shuttle hit the floor for a win for Ben and another point for St. Brendan’s. Charlie Loughnane scored the 3rd point for St. Brendan’s with a win against Mikey Kilmartin. Conor Lambe and Eamonn Molloy showed that CNC were not going down without a fight when they scored a big win in 1st doubles against Antonio Paz and Ben Hogan. Caelum Larkin and Cathal D’Arcy left no doubt in anyone’s mind that St. Brendan’s were going to Dublin when they outscored Conor Heffernan and Mikey Kilmartin by nearly double scores.
The results place Ard Scoil Chiarán Naofa as the top boys’ U16 team in Offaly, and they will represent the county in Division 2 Leinster. St. Brendan’s will represent Offaly in Division 3.
The girls ‘and boys’ winners and runners-up will travel to Dublin on 15 March.

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