McCreery aiming new title in TallaghtPhoto: By John UPHAM, TT England
2016 Butterfly Irish Senior National Championships
The National Basketball Arena in Tallaght will play host to the 2016 Butterfly Irish Senior National Championships, as competitors will battle it out for the total of 10 National titles on offer. The tournament kicks off on Friday evening, as the early stages get underway, while all will be brought to a close on Saturday evening, 19th March.
The big draw for the keen Table Tennis enthusiasts will as ever be the main events of the Men's and Women's Singles events, as defending Champions, Ulsters Paul McCreery and Ashley Givan, will be vying to hold on to the titles they won in 2015.
McCreery, now a three time National Champion on the men's side, has been a dominent figure on the domestic front over the past number of years. The Nottingham University student will have his work cut out to add to his tally though, as International team mates, Irish ranked number one Gavin Maguire, as well as Irelands star performer at the recent World Championships, Clogher man Ashley Robinson, will be in hot pursuit. Maguire has been in fine form this season, particularly on the domestic front, having picked up titles at the Senior Classification, Leinster Grand Prix, Munster and Connacht Opens. Some would say the Dubliner is the man to beat. Robinson, though is perhaps the one that has has thrown down the gauntlet of late, as his five-star performance in Kuala Lumpur has catapulted him up to number 332 in the World Rankings, the highest of any Irish player.
Let's not forget the chasing pack, though. While the top 3 will come in to the event as heavy favourites, there is talent in abundance as we look down the seedings. Full time players Ryan Farrell (Sweden) and Alexander Gillen (France) will be keen to impress, while recently crowned Junior National Champion Zak Wilson will also want to have his say. Keep an eye here for what promises to be a blockbuster event!
On the Women's side, we can expect fireworks all-round. Ashley Givan, still only 20 years old, comes into the event as a 4 time National Champion, however Ulsters top female will face wave after wave of young talent in her quest to make it title number 5.
Leading the charge is Ladies Irish Number 1 ranked player Katie McGlone, who at 16 years old, is as dangerous as they come at this level. Also in the mix is Munster's defensive maestro Chloe O'Halloran, who has shown over the years that she is capable of beating any of the top women on her day. Add to the fold our new junior national champion, Mia O'Rahilly Egan, whose meteoric rise this season makes her a serious threat this time around in Tallaght. Finally, lets not discount the Ulster duo, Senior Classification winner Rebecca Finn and 2014 champion Emma Ludlow. It is very clear, the women's singles is very much all to play for!
By Mark O'Flynn, Courtesy of Table Tennis Ireland