Alpha miss out on U13 Celtic Challenge title

Che Smyth played well in the Celtic Challenge in Cardiff.
Che Smyth played well in the Celtic Challenge in Cardiff.

Jack Armstrong and Matthew Cheung may have been Alpha’s sole victors in the Under 13 Celtic Challenge in Cardiff last weekend but it was a number of other performances which were to give the team’s coaches Trevor Woods and Tony Murphy the most satisfaction.

Both came out on top against eventual Champions Leinster as Armstrong got the better of Peter McDonald 21-15 22-24 21-18 while Cheung saw off David Downey 21-13 21-19.

Meanwhile, Jack Livingstone in the number two boys singles slot gave Evan Byrne more than a few headaches and the Leinster player will not be too confident when the pair next face each other, after Livingstone lost 21-17 21-18. Chloe Woods had the unenviable task of stepping up in the third girls singles berth against Leinster’s Leonie Ward going down 21-9 21-10.

After the two successes in the boys singles, Alpha were hopeful of winning a couple of the doubles but Livingstone and Josh Armstrong lost 21-13 21-12 to Peter McDonald and Sean Patrick Laureta 21-13 21-12 and after making a very good start in the opening set against Evan Byrne and Sean Bass, Che Smyth and Jack Armstrong lost 21-17 21-7.

Expectations were high with Stuart McCollam and Matthew Cheung snatching a victory at number three boys doubles but after comprehensively dominating the opening set 21-13, However, David and Kevin Downey responded by winning the second 21-16 and the Alpha pair know how close they came to booking the club’s third win, but the Leinster pair won the decider 23-21.

Sara Cherry and Harmonie Ferguson came close to causing an upset by taking Kerry Fallon and Megan McLoughlin to a deciding set having lost the second 21-18. Zara Bell and Lucy Bonar really stepped up to the bar against Aine Crowe and Leonie Ward, eventually going down 21-17 21-14.

Alpha were very disappointed losing 8-7 to Lothian, particularly as they also only lost 17-16 when the number of sets of the two teams were added up. On this occasion Jack Armstrong, Jack Livingstone and Stuart McCollam triumphed in the three boys singles with Livingstone easing through 21-19 in the third against Calum Ireland.

Rebecca Wallace played some of her best badminton this season to snatch a 21-16 19-21 21-17 victory over Zazou Wycherley in the only girls singles success with Harmonie Ferguson retired.

Lothian won the second boys doubles when Jack Armstrong and Che Smyth lost 21-18 21-12 but Alpha came through with Livingstone and Armstrong recording a 21-19 21-17 victory and Mathew Cheung and Stuart McCollam winning 21-16 22-20.

Sara Cherry and Harmonie Ferguson pulled out all the stops in the clash of the top girls doubles but finished just short of the line losing 19-21 21-18 21-17.

Alpha really needed to take two of the three mixed and after Josh Armstrong and Sarah Cherry doing all they could in their three set victory it was all set for a grandstand finish.

Chloe Woods and Matthew Cheung took the opening set of their clash against Cameron Pike and Amanda Martin 21-17 and with Che Smyth and Zara Bell having only lost 21-17 in their contest with Gregor Ronan and Jess Rae, Alpha’s victory was still very much on.

Matthew and Chloe lost the second 21-15 and the third 21-17 and Che and Zara were still in contention only to lose 21-18.

The Welsh match proved to be yet another cliff-hanger with Jack Livingstone and Stuart McCollam winning two of the three boys singles, Wales dominating the three girls singles and Alpha coming back to dominate the boys doubles.

Matthew Cheung and Harmonie Ferguson were to win the second mixed doubles and Che Smyth and Rebecca Wallace proved too strong for the Wales pair at number three but it wasn’t enough to secure a victory over Wales.

The trip to the tournament could not be undertaken without the financial support of Shannon’s Jewellers, nor the £820 raised at Sainsbury’s packing customers’ shopping one Saturday before the competition. The players would also like to thank Team Manager Jennifer Stephenson and coaches Tony Murphy and Trevor Woods.