Hickey impresses at Munster graduates

Niamh Hickey, Killarney Club, in action at the Munster Graduate Badminton competition where she won the Ladies Doubles and Mixed Doubles and was runner-up in the Singles competition at the Killarney Sports & Leisure Centre last Sunday.
Niamh Hickey, Killarney Club, in action at the Munster Graduate Badminton competition where she won the Ladies Doubles and Mixed Doubles and was runner-up in the Singles competition at the Killarney Sports & Leisure Centre last Sunday.

Sunday last saw the Killarney Sports Centre and the Kerry Badminton Association play host to the six Munster counties with the staging of the Provincial senior 2 and the Graduate championships. Senior 2 would be the second tier in Munster badminton whilst the Graduates is open to those players graded below both senior 1 and senior 2 and who have not played inter-county at class 1, 2 or 3 level. This competition generally attracts a large entry from all over the province and Sunday saw over 130 players competing.

Last season saw Kerry players reach six finals and win three titles. Last Sunday saw the Kerry players win out the same number of Munster titles but the number of Kerry players that contested this year's finals was far greater than last season.

The graduates that stole the show from a Kerry perspective with Killarney club girl Niamh Hickey being acclaimed as the "Queen of the Court". Hickey contested all three finals open to her, with her first decider the graduates final where she lost to Waterford's Jo Murphy 21-10, 21-18.

Despite that inital defeat it was all uphill for Hickey after that. In the all Kerry ladies doubles decider she teamed up with her club colleague Samira Hayes against another Killarney club player, Jeab Workman, and her Castleisland partner Michelle Beazley. The all Killarney pairing took the honours by 21-17, 21-17.

The second title captured by Hickey was in the mixed doubles decider where she teamed up with Tiernan Lawlor of Waterford in the final against Listowel's Jill Redmond and Limerick's Adrian Kennelly. Hickey and Lawlor won the first set 21-7 and the second 21-17 as Hickey collected Munster title no.2.

The third title for Kerry was the mixed doubles crown where the Moyvane/Listowel partnership of Donnacha Moloney and James Leane took on Limerick's Gabriel Sisson and Aaron Magee. This was a brilliant, exciting three-set battle with the Limerick pair winning the first 21-16, but the Kerry pair dovetailed well in the second set, which they won 21-16, and the third set saw it Kerry's day as Moloney/Leane came good by 21-17.

The Kerry hard luck story of the day must be that of Donie Enright in the men's graduate singles final. The Moyvane man captured the opening set by 21-16 against Gabriel Sisson, but the Limerick man turned the game around in the remaining two sets winning them 21-15, 21-16 to take the title.

There was no Kerry joy in the senior 2 competition but Castleisland club player Edel Broderick reached two finals with both going to three sets and she did claim two silver medals. In the singles final in which she was the defending champion, Broderick won the opening set against Waterford's Lucy Fox by 21-16 but lost the next two 12-21, 19-21.

In the ladies doubles decider Broderick teamed up with Tipperary's Celine Connors and this pair won a thrilling opener by 22-20 but the title was set for Waterford as Tanya Morrissey and Shauna Kennelly came good when it mattered most and won their title with 21-16, 21-14 wins in the next two sets.

This weekend sees another hectic programme, commencing with the CPC.IE sponsored divisions 2 and 4 singles championships in Killarney at 7.30 on Friday. It is important that all players and court helpers report in good time.

The action stays in Killarney on Saturday where the juvenile singles championships for under-11/13/15/17 for girls and boys take place with the usual starting time of 11am. Again, it is important for all involved to sign in before 10.45.

The Munster section of the All-Ireland inter-county series commences in the UL Limerick Arena this Sunday where Grades B/D/F/G take the floor. Kerry will not have a team in Grade B but will have a team in each of the other sections. All have trained diligently over many weeks past with the D panel under the stewardship of Eric Nelligan who will finalise his team of five ladies and five men from Sinead Galvin, Sorcha Fitzgerald, Elaine Hudson, Jennifer Keane, Maeve Twomey, Niamh Hickey, Fergal Hannon, Jonathan Keane, James Leane, Michael Crossan, Chris O'Donoghue and Donnacha Moloney.

The Grade G panel have been coached by joint managers Amanda Carmody and Tony O'Donoghue who have received help from current division 1 county champion James O'Flaherty and William O'Flaherty. The final selection is Bridget McCarthy (Moyvane), Paula O Sullivan (Ballyheigue), Ciara Hudson (Moyvane), Rita McCarthy (Listowel), Louise Behan (Moyvane), Ger O'Connor (Killarney), Liam O'Connor (Moyvane), Kevin O'Donnell (Ballyheigue), Liam Barry (Killarney) and Brendan O'Carroll (Causeway).

Kerry Sports Awards

There was a notable honour bestowed on the Killarney Badminton Club last week when they were declared as one of the Kerry Sports Stars of the Year winners at the annual function in Killarney. This honour bestowed on Killarney was due to the great success by the club over the past season which saw them capture many honours including team success at Kerry division 3 level and the jewel in the badminton crown was winning the All-Ireland Grade F title which was a notable achievement.

The Kerry Associations annual table quiz takes place at O'Donnell's Bar Tralee on Friday, February 16 and the annual raffle will take place two days later during the division 1, 3 and 5 doubles championships in Killarney.

The money accrued from functions such as the table quiz and the raffle are a vital source of income to pay the many expenses involved around teams hall hire, shuttles and the other expenses incurred to run a county association, so the support of all is very welcome.