Several junior players registered very good performances in the men's and women's national championships over the weekend of 18/19 January in Clane. As the name would suggest, these events always feature a large and very strong field.
Pride of place should probably go the relatively new pairing of Sheila Walsh & Isabel Burke, who came 37th in a field of more than a hundred pairs in the Women's Pairs, taking home the best Intermediate A prize for their efforts, and finishing ahead of some of the country's top pairs. This was an excellent achievement, particularly as this was 15-year old Isabel's debut appearance in a major competition. Another junior pair, Leah Finnegan & Denise Walsh, were not far behind them and would have won the best Intermediate A prize if not for Sheila and Isabel's results.
Conor Boland has featured at the top of so many national events now that it is probably no longer noteworthy, but he had another very strong weekend, finishing 4th in the Men's Pairs and 10th in the teams. And Michael Donnelly & Stephen Barr (the latter freshly returned from a four-month sabbatical travelling in South America) were on the 12th placed finishers in the Teams.
Well done to all, and hopefully the good standard will be maintained for the upcoming home internationals, in which all of the above will be representing Ireland in Wales over the weekend of 14-16 February.
The following have been selected to represent Ireland at the upcoming Peggy Bayer & Junior Camrose Trophies (the Under-21 and Under-26 home internationals, respectively), to be held in the University of South Wales Campus, in Newport, Wales, over the weekend of 14-16 February.
Peggy Bayer Trophy (Under-21): Adam Murphy & Matthew Farrell, Conor Totterdell & Luca Crone, Denise Walsh & Leah Finnegan, with Margaret Murphy as Non-Playing Captain.
Junior Camrose Trophy (Under-26): Conor Boland & Michael Donnelly, Isabel Burke & Sheila Walsh, John Connolly & Stephen Barr, with Thomas MacCormac as Non-Playing Captain.
Some of the players, especially on the Under-26 team, are seasoned veterans, but for a number this will represent their first Irish cap. We are sure you will join us in wishing all of them every success in the event.
We had a entry of ten pairs for the junior trials held in the Templeogue Bridge Centre over the weekend of 31 August/1 September. It was an excellent competition, very well run by Tournament Director Brian Lawlor, with all the juniors playing 90 boards over three sessions. Aside from several from in and around Dublin, we also had players who had travelled from Belfast, Limerick, Galway, and Dundalk.
The final placings were: 1st (and leading Under-26 pair) Conor Boland & Michael Donnelly; 2nd (and leading Under-21 pair) Adam Murphy & Matthew O'Farrell; 3rd Joe Carthy & Jarlath McDonnell; 4th Isabel Burke & Sheila Walsh. As the most experienced players in the field, Conor and Michael would have been strong favourites and justified that tag with a very solid performance, though Adam and Matthew pushed them hard with an excellent run in the Sunday session. The overall standard was very satisfactory, so well done to all who played.
The Junior Committee had communicated in advance that no automatic spots for international competitions would be awarded on the basis of the results in the trials, but rather than they would make up 40% of the marks available on a scorecard approach. A further 40% is available for regular, consistent practice and/or play, so all juniors are strongly encouraged to send details (screenshots etc) of their activities to coach Karel De Raeymaeker.
Huge thanks to Karel De Raeymaeker for organising and running a special summer bridge camp for junior players in King's Hospital on 2-4 July.
We had seventeen attendees, including several newcomers to the Irish junior bridge scene, who enjoyed three full days of bridge tuition and fun, including accommodation and meals, at a very reasonable cost of €50. The venue proved very suitable, and all the participants enjoyed themselves and will have benefitted from the experience. We hope to make a camp of this type an annual event in our calendar from now on.
Alongside coach Karel, we were also delighted to have the input of top Irish player Paul Delaney, who delivered modules on a number of topics to the juniors, with a special emphasis on declarer play and defence. Our thanks also to Margaret Murphy and Dermot O'Brien, who helped with the tuition and made sure that all the juniors had a lot of fun.
If you didn't make it along this year, please keep your eye out around the same time next year for our second summer camp for juniors.
The team of John Connolly, Stephen Barr, Michael Donnelly, Nathan Doyle, Jarlath McDonnell, and Conor Farrell, with NPC Thomas MacCormac, represented Ireland in the 27th European Under-26 Open Team Championships in Norway, from 5 to 11 July. The team started very strongly, winning four of their first six matches to lie in seventh position after the first two days' play. Unfortunately, perfromance dropped thereafter, and the team only won five of the remaining sixteen matches, finshing in twenty-first place. Full results can be found here.
Congratulations to Luca Crone, who was the Novice player on the winning Mid-Leinster region team at the 4Fun Teams final in Westmanstown on 25 May. Our sources tell us that, at just 16 years of age, Luca is likely to be the youngest ever national championship winner. Well done to him and to the rest (non-juniors) of his team - Máire O'Keeffe, Nuala Prendergast, and Deirdre Harrington.
Well done also to Stephen Barr and Michael Donnelly who came third in a strong field in the Arklow Cup on 26 May.
The weekend of 6/7 April saw some more excellent performances from junior players, this time in the Moylan Trophy (the IBU All-Ireland Pairs Championship), which is an invitation-only event and attracts the strongest pairs in the island of Ireland.
Stephen Barr came 6th, playing with frequent junior NPC Thomas MacCormac, while Nathan Doyle & Michael Donnelly led after the first session and finished 8th, and Conor Boland came 13th in partnership with Ciaran Coyne.
Excellent performances all round, which clearly demonstrate that this group of juniors is capable of, and deserving of, playing in the very best company. Very well done!
Well done to all who attended the Schools Pairs and Teams weekend in Galway on 1-3 March, and thanks to Tournament Director Niamh Gormally.
The Pairs event on Friday night was won by Josh Boyd & Josh Mills from Belfast Royal Academy, with Denise Walsh & Leah Finnegan (St. Vincent's Dundalk) second, and Luca Crone & David Hoyne (CBS Kilkenny/Holy Family CS Rathcoole) third.
The Teams event, over three sessions on Saturday and Sunday, was won by St. Vincent's Dundalk (Denise Walsh, Leah Finnegan, Ciara Manning, and Catherine Raftis). A combined CBS Kilkenny and Holy Family CS Rathcoole team came second (Luca Crone, David Hoyne, Tom Gorey, and Cillian Davin), while third spot was occupied by Belfast Royal Academy (Conor Gallagher, Xander Todd, Lucy O'Kane, and Min-Seog Kim). The consolation plate event was won by Carrick Grammar School (Amy Taylor, Alex Millar, Adam Hendry, and Evan McKeown). The sessional scores from the Teams event are here: Schools Teams Session 1; Schools Teams Session 2; Schools Teams Sessions 1 & 2; Schools Teams Final; Schools Teams Consolation Plate.
The annual home international competitions, for the Peggy Bayer (Under-20s) and Junior Camrose (Under-25s) Trophies respectively, were held in Belfast over the weekend of 15-17 February. The teams representing Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the CBAI (we had an extra team in the Junior Camrose) were as follows:
ROI Peggy Bayer Trophy: Monica Thorne & Aisling Kate McAuliffe Hickey, Denise Walsh & Leah Finnegan, Sheila Walsh & Ariane Kane; NPC Margaret Murphy.
ROI Junior Camrose Trophy: John Connolly & Nathan Doyle, Stephen Barr & Michael Donnelly; NPC Thomas MacCormac.
Northern Ireland Peggy Bayer Trophy: Min-Seog Kim & Aileen Armstrong, Connor Gallagher & Luke McGarvey, Lucy O'Kane & Xander Todd; NPC Sandie Millership.
Northern Ireland Junior Camrose Trophy: John William Carey & Ridwan Farouki, Gavin Irvine & Phil Martin, Craig Smylie & Ryan Lightowler; NPC Diane Greenwood.
CBAI Junior Camrose Trophy: Jarlath McDonnell & Conor Farrell, Arran Bolger & Lawrence Childs, Ceara Walsh & Emma Noonan; NPC Dermot O'Brien.
Unfortunately, all our teams came home empty handed from the weekend, but everyone enjoyed themselves and gained a lot of experience. Full results for the Peggy Bayer are available here, and for the Junior Camrose here.
Ireland came a solid second in the Peggy Bayer, but a distance behind an exceptional English team, which dominated from the start. Northern Ireland were fourth of four. In the Junior Camrose, Ireland were competitive throughout but faded a bit to finish third, behind another extremely well-drilled English group (with two players who make a living from bridge, and coached by leading international player David Bakhshi) and a strong Scottish team. Northern Ireland finished fourth, but did have the honour of inflicting their worst defeat on the victorious English team, while the relatively inexperienced CBAI team was sixth of six.
Well done to all those who played, and better luck next year for those who will still qualify for junior bridge.
More very good performances were achieved by junior players in the national men's championships in Clane over the weekend of 12/13 January.
In a very strong field in the Revington Cup (pairs), Stephen Barr & John Connolly came 9th, ahead of some very well-known and excellent pairs, winning first prize in the Regional Master category for their efforts, while Michael Donnelly & Nathan Doyle finished 36th, in the top half of the large field.
In the Geraldine Trophy (teams), Stephen Barr & John Connolly again featured, this time placing 4th in combination with recent juniors Hugh Gormally & David Synnott, and again won the best Regional Master prize, while the team of Jarlath McDonnell, Conor Farrell, Laurence Childs & Arran Bolger started very strongly but then suffered one bad round that saw them finish 23rd (a few places ahead of the current Irish open team!) to win the best Intermediate A prize. In addition, Conor Boland was 5th, playing on a team alongside coach Karel De Raeymaeker and recent juniors Kelan O'Connor and Wayne Somerville, and Michael Donnelly & Nathan Doyle were on the team that came eighth.
Well done to all, and we're sure that they enjoyed the event, and learned a lot from the experience. If you didn't play on this occasion, why not give the next national or regional competition or local congress a go - it's by far the best way for aspiring players to improve!
Well done to all the current and recent juniors who performed so well in the Spiro Cup (national mixed pairs championship) and the Coen Trophy (national mixed teams championship) held over the weekend of 20/21 October in the Templeogue Bridge Centre.
Both competitions, as you would expect, attracted a very large and very strong entry. In that context, the junior players did extremely well.
In the pairs, Kelan O'Connor came fourth, and Conor Boland fifth, each playing with a more experienced partner. Monica Thorne & John Connolly came 40th, in a field of 112 pairs, and finished ahead of several pairs who participated in the recent open mixed trials for next year's European championships. Aisling-Kate McAuliffe-Hickey & Jarlath McDonnell came 90th, and missed out by one place on the prize for the best Intermediate A2 pair.
In the teams, Conor and Kelan were on the team that finished 5th, of 63 teams, while Stephen Barr & Ceara Walsh, playing with Niamh & Hugh Gormally, took 16th spot. Michael Donnelly, Aisling-Kate McAuliffe-Hickey, Monica Thorne & John Connolly came 27th, and Leah Finnegan, Conor Farrell, Denise Walsh, & Jarlath McDonnell 59th.
Well done to all, and we hope that you enjoyed the event, and learned a lot from the experience. Coach Karel has been preaching for some years the benefit of playing against top-level competition in events like this. If you didn't play this time around, maybe you'll give the next national or regional competition or local congress a go!
The IYBC held Junior International Trials for some of the major competitions of the 2018/19 season in the Templeogue Bridge Centre in Dublin over the weekend of 1/2 September.
Fifteen pairs of various age categories took part, ably marshalled by Tournament Director Huey Daly. The results are set out in the Results tab to the right, along with a full analysis of the scores on all boards played by all the pairs over the four sessions.
It was a very closely-fought competition, with less than seven points on the Butler scoring scale separating the top five pairs. Congratulations to the following pairs, who clinched the automatic qualifying spots awarded to the highest-ranked competitors in each of the relevant categories:
Jarlath McDonnell & Conor Farrell, who won the overall event, and took the automatic qualification spots for the European Under-25 Championships and the Junior Camrose for 2019
Monica Thorne & Aisling Kate McAuliffe Hickey, who came second in the overall event, and took the automatic qualification spots for the European Under-20 Championships and the Peggy Bayer Trophy for 2019
Any further pairs required for the international events will be selected by the IYBC at its discretion, using a variety of criteria, including but not limited to, performance in the trials.
The CBAI President, Peter O'Meara from Birr, looked in on the trials and said a few words, reminding the juniors that they represented the future of Irish bridge, and encouraging them to act as ambassadors for a wonderful game.
The thumbnails show some pictures of the event, including a shot of all the players with Peter O'Meara.
Our thanks to the players who attended, the parents and guardians who brought them, and the IYBC members who helped out during the event - Karel De Raeymaker, Hugh Gormally, Diane Greenwood, Margaret Murphy, and Dermot O'Brien, and Sandie Millership, representing the NIBU.