Alpha’s Niall McVeigh was the toast of Dublin recently as the 24 year old lifted the mens Singles title in the SS6 Class (Short Stature).
Niall had suffered successive defeats at the hands of old adversary England’s Krysten Coombs in both the Scottish 4 Nations and the Spanish Para Badminton International but beat him in the semi-final in a match which showed para-badminton at its best.
Having seen off Maria Bartuse (Poland) 21-6 21-3 and England’s Jack Shephard 21-18 10-21 21-15 Niall beat the young player from Wigan Isaac Dalglish 21-11 21-5 to earn what was always going to be the match of the tournament against Krysten Coombs, who has acted in the Game of Thrones.
Prior to his disappointments in Spain and Scotland McVeigh, who stands just 4 feet 2 inches tall, would always have started his games at a rate of knots, gaining early supremacy and then seeing off his opponents but having worked hard on his stamina with his father Eugene and other members of the Irish squad at the Lisburn Racquets Club and with his coach Andy Stewart, this was always going to be a test for him.
The opening set was to set the tone for the semi-final, both players wanted to win, and Niall was not going to give anything away easily.
Coombs however had no answer to Niall’s return at the net which nearly brought the house down leaving Coombs to ponder what he had to do to win a point.
Coombs though was to snatch the opening set 22-24 with McVeigh taking the second 22-20 and the decider went to the wire too with Niall edging to the title 21-19 which will undoubtedly be a major boost to his preparations for the World Championships in September.
The final against Chun Yim Wong was always going to be something of an anti-climax with his young opponent never really able to get into the match to be a serious contender but it was still a testing time for the 24 year old.
That semi-final clash with Coombs had taken a lot out of him but he lifted the gold medal with consummate ease 21-11 21-11.
His bid to make it a double gold by winning the doubles with Yim Wong was to come to a premature end when they lost in the final in straight sets to Coombs and Jack Shepard of England.
The new partnership had beaten No2 seeds Dalglish and Martin in their opening match 21-17 21-17, followed by Niall’s two colleagues in the Irish squad Emma Farnham and Andrew Moorcroft 21-9 21-3.
Another member of the Alpha squad Laura Lee Jenkins also took home two bronze medals in the WH1/WH2 class, partnering Fiona Christie of Scotland.
Laura had successfully progressed through the qualifying group of the singles with a victory over Audrey Belilia-Sauvage but was unable to find her consistency against the No2 seed Sonja Haesier losing in straight sets.
Haesier was beaten into runners-up spot by her Swiss compatriot Karin Suter-Erath.
All in all this first Carlton Irish Para Badminton International was a resounding success with some 140 athletes from 24 nations competing.