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Irish Open 2013
22-27 Apr, Dublin, $15kx2

27-Apr, Finals:                 photos by Mary Croke
[1] Madeline Perry (Irl) 3-1 [6] Nicolette Fernandes (Guy)  
           11/5, 11/9, 8/11, 11/3 (60m)

[2] Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas) 3-1 [3] Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy)
           13/11, 8/11, 11/7, 11/2 (57m)

Finals at Fitzwilliam
Arthur Curran reports

A fifth Irish Open for Perry

Eventually we came to the women’s final of this Cannon Kirk Homes Irish Open tournament, and what a treat we had in store.

Madeline started off like a house on fire, maybe with Nicolette suffering a little nerves or tiredness from her arduous week, and moved quickly to game ball at 10/2 in the first, Nicolette saved three points then carelessly served out of court on the sidewall to give Madeline the game at 11/3.

Nicolette started much better in the second as with some great shots she moved into 5/2 lead, then 7/4 and 9/5, looking good for a game win but then Madeline showed her experience to take the game 11/9 via a stroke on the last point.

Both ladies were playing some great squash to entertain the fairly large crowd, as Madeline moved into a 5/1 lead, Nicolette pulled back to 4/5, Madeline got to 6/4 before Nicolette put in one great hand of squash to lead 8/7, and although Madeline pulled back to level at 8/8 she just could not stop Nicolette from staying in the match by taking the game 11/8.

Unfortunately Nicolette had used up far too much energy in taking that third game as she had no answer to Madeline’s superb shot making as she strode through the fourth game11/3 to win the Irish Women’s Open title for the fifth time.

Congratulations to Madeline on another fine win, but congratulations also to Nicolette who had played some great squash here throughout the week and found herself with many new admirers for her style of play, her gracious demeanour on court and her friendliness with fans off the court.

Madeline thus wins her fifth Irish Open title in nine years, claiming a 10th career WSA title.
“I don’t think I did much wrong in game four”, said Fernandes, “but Madeline was flying in that game and was just too good.”

Madeline was content with her performance, especially playing well in front of a home crowd: “This is not my home court, but this is as home as it gets to me, and winning in Ireland obviously means a lot to me.”

The former world number three feels that this was good preparation for the European Team Championships happening next week: “there are some strong teams out there but if Aisling Blake and I are playing well, we are within a chance. Also, our number three player has gained some good experience and should make things hard for whoever she faces.”

And so to the men’s final, the last match of the week. No 2 seed Nafiizwan Adnan faced No 3 seed Omar Abdel Meguid from Egypt, and it was a really fantastic battle of wits in a tough contest.

The first game really was like a street fight as both players battled for every ball and every point but Wan managed to close it out eventually at 13/11, and the next game was equally as tough with Omar this time coming out on top at 11/8.

The third game was similar with Wan this time taking the game 11/7, but the fourth was a stept oo far for Omar as he ran out of steam Wan took the game 11/2 and won the Irish Men’s Open squash tournament.

“It’s been a long week for me and I think it could have gone to five if I had been a bit fresher," said Omar. "But Wan was the better player on the day and deservedly won.”

For Adnan victory here meant a lot, and he is eager to return next year:

“I will relax now after a long week. Ireland has been good to me, it’s a great tournament for me, and lets hope that Cannon Kirk Homes, the sponsors, can support the event again next year.”

Plenty of celebrations and presentations then followed before the tournament was officially closed.

Finals Gallery  photos by Mary Croke

Ireland's Minister for European Affairs casts her Vote4Squash

Finals Gallery

Draws & Results

Squash Fans from near and far

During this week at the Fitzwilliam Club I have met up with a couple of guys who have been asking me a lot about squash so I thought I would check into their interest.

Roger Gaggiato, pictured right, is of Italian descent and has broken a visit to his parents at the family residence in Padua, Italy for a first time visit to Dublin for the Irish Open as he is a very keen squash fan.

Alongside on the left is his business pal Ashley St. John Leonard, who hails from Dublin but now resides in Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil with his Brazilian wife, the same town where Roger is the Italian Vice-Consul, and he has come across to see his family and to be introduced to squash by Roger.

Roger said “I have enjoyed this visit very much, and it has been great to see all these top players in such a wonderful environment.”

Ashley said “It has been a most enjoyable and exciting introduction to the sport by my friend, especially back in my home city, and I shall definitely follow the sport much more via squashsite.”

Unfortunately Roger had to leave this morning before the finals, but he will be back in Italy in time to watch the live streaming of the final, then travels back to Brazil early next week, where the guys will meet up again. Hopefully we will all meet up somewhere sometime at a later date.

Did you catch it Live ?

In a first for the Cannon Kirk Homes Irish Open, the event was streamed live on aertv.ie , and commentary was provided by a number of players.

For the finals Dan Zilic was joined by none other than Derek Ryan, who came fresh off court after beating top European junior David Ryan. Thousands of internet users followed the action online, and remarkably the viewership was international.

“We saw a real spike in traffic from Mexico during Samantha Teran’s match”, said Mark Burke, senior producer at aertv.ie. And the players were impressed too: “I had some top ten players watch me yesterday, and they said I played well! This wouldn’t have been possible years ago”, the finalist Omar Abdel Meguid said, proving that also players benefit from the wider exposure.

Finally, Alex Gough, CEO of the PSA, also alluded how this type of coverage is a real boost for Squash’s bid for the inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games.

“We have always had the players, but we haven’t always had the exposure. We are getting this right this time, and coverage such as this is fantastic for the game”, said Gough.

Irish Open 2013
22-27 Apr, Dublin, $15k
Round One
24 Apr
25 Apr
26 Apr
27 Apr
[1] Madeline Perry (Irl)
13/11, 11/5, 11/5 (31m)
[Q] Miriam Metwally (Egy)
[1] Madeline Perry
11/9, 11/7, 11/7 (30m)
[8] Misaki Kobayashi
[1] Madeline Perry

12/10, 10/12, 11/5, 11/4 (44m)

[Q] Deon Saffery

[1] Madeline Perry


11/5, 11/9, 8/11, 11/3 (60m)


[6] Nicolette Fernandes

[8] Misaki Kobayashi (Jpn)
13/11, 11/7, 11/9 (41m)
Lisa Aitken (Sco)
[3] Aisling Blake (Irl)
11/5, 11/7, 11/9 (30m
[Q] Deon Saffery (Wal)
[Q] Deon Saffery
 11/5, 11/5, 11/9 (38m)
Coline Aumard
[5] Lauren Briggs (Eng)
11/4, 11/2, 5/11, 11/7 46
Coline Aumard (Fra)
[Q] Milou Van Der Heijden (Ned)
11/8, 11/5, 11/8 (24m)
[7] Emma Beddoes (Eng)
[7] Emma Beddoes
8/11, 12/10, 13/11, 13/11 (64m)
[4] Emily Whitlock
[4] Emily Whitlock

11/2, 11/9, 11/6 (40m)

[6] Nicolette Fernandes

Lucie Fialova (Cze)
11/9, 11/13, 11/7, 11/7 (57m
[4] Emily Whitlock (Eng)
[Q] Sarah Cardwell (Aus)
11/3, 11/3, 12/10 (33m)
[6] Nicolette Fernandes (Guy)
[6] Nicolette Fernandes
11/9, 11/9, 11/3 (45m)
[2] Samantha Teran
Lauren Selby (Eng)
  6/11, 14/12, 11/8, 11/6 (37m)
[2] Samantha Teran (Mex)

22-Apr, Qualifying Finals:

Mariam Metwally
(Egy) 3-0 Gaby Huber (Sui)                   11/6, 11/5, 11/8 (38m)
Sarah Cardwell (Aus) 3-0 Orla Noom (Ned)                       11/1, 11/5, 11/3 (20m)
Milou Van Der Heijden (Ned) 3-0  Maud Duplomb (Fra)  11/7, 12/10, 13/11 (30m)
Deon Saffery (Wal) 3-1 Birgit Coufal (Aut)                11/7, 8/11, 11/8, 11/5 (25m)

22-Apr, Qualifying Round One:

Gaby Huber (Sui) 3-1 Chloe Mesic (Fra)           10/12, 11/7, 12/10, 11/1 (35m)
Mariam Metwally (Egy) 3-0 Cyrielle Peltier (Fra)          11/8, 11/7, 11/3 (34m)
Sarah Cardwell (AUS) 3-0 Belen Etchechoury (ARG)    11/9, 11/2, 11/8 (35m)
Orla Noom (NED) 3-0 Griffin Gillanders (IRL)                11/8, 11/8, 11/4 (17m)
Maud Duplomb (Fra) 3-0 Fiona Power (Irl)                  11/8, 11/2, 11/7 (21m)
Milou Van Der Heijden (Ned) 3-0 Ciara Moloney (Irl)   11/8, 11/5, 11/6 (22m)
Birgit Coufal (Aut) 3-0 Stephanie Ryan (Irl)                11/1, 11/4, 11/1 (11m)
Deon Saffery (Wal) 3-0 Harriet Ingham (Eng)             11/2, 11/9, 11/7

Irish Open 2013
22-27 Apr, Dublin, $15k
Round One
24 Apr
25 Apr
26 Apr
27 Apr
[1] Chris Simpson (Eng)
 11/7, 9/11, 11/6, 11/8. 66 m
[Q] Ivan Yuen (Mas)
[1] Chris Simpson
 11/9, 11/4, 4/11, 11/2 (52m)
[Q] Jens Schoor
[1] Chris Simpson

 11/9, 12/10, 4/11, 11/6 (63m)

[3] Omar Abdel Meguid

[3] Omar Abdel Meguid


13/11, 8/11, 11/7, 11/2 (57m)


[2] Nafiizwan Adnan

Charles Sharpes (Eng)
12:10, 8:11, 12:10, 11:7 (64m
[Q] Jens Schoor (Ger)
Nasir Iqbal (Pak)
11/13, 11/7, 11/13, 11/3, 11/3 (63m)
[Q] Lucas Serme (Fra)
[Q] Lucas Serme
11/13, 11/9, 11/4, 11/5 (73m)
[3] Omar Abdel Meguid
[3] Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy)
13:11, 11:8, 11:8 (57m
Steve Finitsis (Aus)
Chris Gordon (Usa)
11/2, 11/8, 13/11 (65m)
[4] Shahier Razik (Can)
Chris Gordon
11/8, 7/11, 11/9, 11/3 (71m)
Arthur Gaskin
Chris Gordon

11/7, 5/11, 11/4, 11/4 (50m)

[2] Nafiizwan Adnan

Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
11/8, 11/7, 11/8 (51m)
Arthur Gaskin (Irl)
Shaun Le Roux (Rsa)
5/11, 11/9, 11/4, 14/12 (61m)
[Q] Zahed Mohamed (Egy)
Shaun Le Roux
12/10, 11/7, 11/6 (40m)
[2] Nafiizwan Adnan
[LL] Johan Bouquet (Fra)
11/9, 11/4, 11/13, 11/7 (48m)
[2] Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas)

22-Apr, Qualifying Finals

Ivan Yuen (Mas) 3-2
Alejandro Garbi (Esp) 5/11, 11/6, 11/7, 9/11, 11/7 (70m)
Lucas Serme (Fra) 3-2
Joel Hinds (Eng)        8/11, 8/11, 11/9, 11/6, 11/3 (72m)
Jens Schoor (Ger) 3-2 Alex Phillips (Eng) 11/5, 10/12, 13/11, 3/11, 12/10 (60m)
Zahed Mohamed (Egy) 3-0 Johan Bouquet (Fra)             11/6, 11/4, 11/4 (29m)

22-Apr, Qualifying Round One

Ivan Yuen (Mas) bye
Alejandro Garbi (Esp) 3-0 Kevin Moran (Sco)              12/10, 11/8, 11/8 (42m)
Lucas Serme (Fra) 3-0 Sean Conroy (Irl)                        11/4, 11/1, 11/2 (23m)
Joel Hinds (Eng) 3-1 Ben Coleman (Eng)        12/14, 11/7, 11/8, 11/8 (81m)
Johan Bouquet (Fra) 3-0 Oisin Logan (Irl)   11/6, 11/3, 11/7 (20m)

Semis at Fitzwilliam
Arthur Curran reports

What an absolutely superb exhibition of squash we saw here from the Guyanese lady Nicolette Fernandes who, after winning against top Mexican Samantha Teran yesterday, again won against the seedings as she defeated No 4 seed Emily Whitlock from England.

Although only 4 places between them in the rankings with Emily currently at 27, the lower ranked Nicolette was on top of the match all the way through as she set off like lightening into an 8/0 lead before Emily got on the scoreboard, then closed the game out at 11/2. Emily set off a little better in the second as she took a close 3/2 lead, Nicolette took over to lead 6/3, Emily eased up to level at 7/7 but Nicolette got to game ball at 10/7. Emily not wanting to go two games down stuck in to get to 9/10 but could not stop Nicolette from taking the next point for an 11/9 win and a 2 – 0 game lead.

Emily seemed to be the one to tire first after both ladies had had two tough games prior to this semi final, Nicolette taking an early 4/0 lead then staying in front as Emily took a few odd points with a 7/3 lead. Although Emily fought very hard to stay in the match and got to 6/7 before Nicolette took the hand again and served out to win 11/6. A fabulous 3 – 0 win for the young lady from Guyana after a dazzling display of great shots and court movement from both these players.

Nicolette was so pleased that the live streaming was on because she heard last night that her family back in Guyana was watching yesterday and we certainly hope they were watching today to see this superb victory, and that they are able to watch the final tomorrow which starts at 3.00 pm GMT.

Another surprise in the men’s first semi final as the top seed is beaten by the No 3 seed in a very unsettling match, both players having many distracting chats with the referee, and lots of lets and no lets. Omar Abdel Meguid set off into a n early 3/0 lead but Chris Simpson quickly levelled then both players kept the score level right through to 9/9 before Omar served out for an 11/9 win. Chris took an early 6/2 lead in the second and moved slowly up to match ball at 10/7 before Omar fought back strongly and defiantly took the game 12/10.

Chris then came back into the match with a 7/1 lead before taking the game 11/4. The fourth started very edgily with Chris taking a 6/5 lead but then was tiring quickly as Omar took the serve and went through the points to take the game 11/6 and the match 3 – 1, and booked the first place in tomorrow’s final.

Next up on court was the Irish favourite lady Madeline Perry to face Deon Saffery of Wales, who had played brilliantly to come through the qualifying rounds to reach this semi final.

Deon started very well to take a 5/2 lead then moved to 8/4, Madeline levelled at 8/8 and again at 9/9, Deon got game ball at 10/9 but could not stop Madeline from taking the game 12/10. Madeline was playing some excellent squash and took a really good lead of 9/3 before Deon got six points in one hand to level at 9/9, Madeline got game ball at 10/9but this time Deon stayed strong to take the game 12/10.

Unfortunately the arduous week began to show on Deon and Madeline took the next two games 11/5 and 11/4 for a good 3 – 1 victory, but praise to both ladies for showing us some great squash played in such an amicable fashion.

Finally we came to the last match of the day, the second men’s semi final, which was a much more stylish and amicable match than the first men’s semi, between No 2 seed Nafiizwan Adnan, known as Wan, from Malaysia, now the tournament favourite, and the rather tall American Chris Gordon.

After a really tough week Chris found it hard to get into this match as Wan moved into a 9/4 lead, got game ball at 10/5 then despite Chris saving two Wan took the game 11/7. Chris came much more into the match in the second game as he fired into a 5/1 lead, Wan came back to 4/5 before Chris went 8/4 up then allowed Wan only one more point before taking the game 11/5.

Both players were playing some lovely squash and entertaining the crowd, but unfortunately Chris was showing extreme signs of tiredness which Wan took advantage of to take the next two games in a comfortable score of 11/4 and 11/5. An excellent finale to the evening’s entertainment, much appreciated by the vociferous crowd.

Draws & Results

Quarters at Fitzwilliam
Roundup from Dan Zilic

Watchers throughout the world were treated to some high-energy Squash live on aertv.ie - with Chris Collins, Damian O'Reilly and Dan Zilic reporting live on the action.

The day kicked off with Emily Whitlock beating Emma Beddoes in a tough four game encounter, and Chris Simpson fulfilled his number one seeding when overcoming qualifier Jens Schoor in four.

Nicolette Fernandes caused the first significant upset beating Samantha Teran of Mexico in straight games, but Omar Abdel Meguid got himself out of trouble in the second against Lucas Serme to win in four.

Then the Irish heroes took to the court - and Madeline Perry justified her number one ranking with a comprehensive victory over Misaki Kobayashi of Japan.

The crowd were therewith perfectly warmed up for the next Irish encounter, featuring yesterday's hero Arthur Gaskin. Gaskin showed terrific spirit in his match against Chris Gordon, and remarkably scored ten points in a row when he came back form 1:4 down in the second to take it 11:4.

But the efforts took their toll, and despite having Irish Squash legend Derek Ryan in his corner, Arthur lost in four tough games.

Hopes remain on Madeline then, as she takes on qualifier Deon Saffery in the semis after the Welsh girl's impressive win over Coline Aumard.

The crowd can rely on some more terrific action in tomorrow's semis, live streaming continues on aertv.ie!

Draws & Results

Dan delegates interviewing duties to Chris, but it's Arthur who gets the Guinness !

The streaming works on your tablet too, and goes very nicely with a Guiness ...

Arthur on the quarters

A little easier to follow matches today as they were all on the glass back court with a women’s then a men’s match alternating. Firstly news of Nasir Iqbal who was taken to hospital after his match yesterday. He was found to have a slight chest infection but otherwise is well and back with us here.

First on court was an all English affair between the experienced Emma Beddoes and the 19 year old Emily Whitlock, with only three places separating them in the rankings. This turned out to be a superb exhibition of squash at its best, with not so much a battle but more like a ballet, as both players covered the court in fabulous style and grace as Emma took an early 5/2 lead, Emily levelled at 5/5 and 6/6 but then Emma took control to finish the game off at 11/6.

Emily this time took an early lead 5/2, Emma stormed back to lead 8/5 then got to game ball at 10/7 but Emily was determined not to go 2 games down and fought back to level then take the game 12/10. The third was a really tight and close game as both players fought each point vigorously and the score was fairly level all the way to 9/9, Emily got game ball at 10/9, Emma levelled at 10/10 and again at 11/11, but Emily again held out to take the game 13/11.

As the match went into the fourth game it still could have gone either way as Emma took an early 5/1 lead, Emily pulled back slowly to 5/8 but then raced through the points to get match ball at 10/8, Emma still was not giving up as she saved two game balls to level at 10/10 and again at 11/11, but then Emily took the next two points to win the game 13/11 and the match 3 – 1. This match was played in an excellent spirit throughout by both players and was a great example of how good women’s squash can be.

For the first of the men’s quarter finals we had the tournament’s No 1 seed Chris Simpson of England playing qualifier Jens Schoor of Germany. Despite behind 53 places behind Chris in the rankings Jens started off really well to take a 5/0 lead and stayed in front up to 9/6 but then Chris found his game to take 5 straight points to take the game 11/6.

Chris was more comfortable in the second as he eased to an 11/4 win, but Jens played his heart out in the third to take that one 11/4. However in the fourth his tiredness was plain to see as Chris cruised through the game for an 11/2 win and a match win of 3 games to 1.

The second women’s quarter final brought a slight upset to the seedings as two lovely ladies from the Central American area faced each other, with No 6 seed Nicolette Fernandes from Guyana eventually taking a fine victory over No 2 seed Samantha Teran from Mexico.

A close but fiery encounter had Samantha take a 9/5 lead in the first, only for Nicolette to show just how well she can play to take 6 points for a game win at 11/9. The second game was even closer with the scores level all the way to 9/9 but again Nicolette finished in style to take the game again 11/9. Samantha was clearly struggling in the third with either tiredness or an unknown injury and Nicolette was not slow to take advantage as she eased through the game to win 11/3 for a fine 3 – 0 victory.

The second men’s match brought us the young Frenchman Lucas Serme, who had played brilliantly through qualifying and the first round, to face the No 3 seed Omar Abdel Meguid from Egypt, a player who is 44 places above Lucas in the rankings. One would not have thought so the way Lucas played in the first game when, despite Omar taking a 9/4 lead, he fought back strongly to face a game ball against him at 7/10, levelled at 10/10 and again at 11/11, then indeed took another two points to win the game 13/11.

In the second game from 4/6 down he then played brilliantly for a good spell to lead 9/6, so near to a 2 game lead, but could not stop the experience of Omar showing through as he swept through the rest of the game for an 11/9 win. Lucas’s tiredness after what had been a very gruelling few days now started to show as Omar took control of the match and took the next two games 11/4 and 11/5.

Next up was Ireland’s favourite lady of squash Madeline Perry, No1 seed and at present ranked 11 in the world. She was opposed by a young Japanese lady Misaki Kobayashi, who has been slowly rising up the rankings recently and at present stands at 43. First game saw Madeline take a 6/3 lead, Misaki levelled at 6/6, again at 8/8, and saved a game ball at 8/10, but Madeline managed to take the next point for an 11/9 win. In the next game Madeline took a 7/3 lead, Misaki came back to 6/7, Madeline got game ball at 10/6, Misaki saved one but could not stop Madeline taking the game at 11/7.

Misaki fought really well to lead 5/2 in the third but Madeline swept through the next hand for 7 unanswered points to lead 9/5, and despite Misaki saving one match ball Madeline finished off to take the game 11/7 and the match 3 games to nil.

Following on with the next match we had the men’s Irish No 1 Arthur Gaskin facing the American Chris Gordon, fresh from his victory in New York last week. Arthur started well to take an early 5/2 lead which he then edged up to 7/5, but Chris came back strong to take the game 11/8.

From 1/4 in the second Arthur had a terrific run to take 9 points in a row and got to game ball at 10/4, then despite Chris taking the next three points Arthur closed out at 11/7. The third game was really a battle royal as both players put everything into getting a lead in the match, Arthur edged into a 6/5 lead, Chris pulled back to lead 9/6, Arthur pulled back to 8/9, Chris got game ball at 10/8, Arthur saved the next point but Chris managed to take the next on and the game at 11/9.

Chris took a good early lead in the fourth at 5/0 with Arthur visibly tiring, and although he fought valiantly to try and stay in the match he could not stop Chris from taking the game 11/3 and the match 3 games to 1.

The final women’s match of the day brought together qualifier Deon Saffery from Wales, who had played brilliantly yesterday to put out crowd favourite Aisling Blake, and French girl Coline Aumard. Not much difference in the rankings between these two ladies and they showed this as they began finding each other out early to a 4/4 score, then Deon eased out to 8/4 and game ball at 10/5, Coline saved two before Deon took the game 11/7. Deon was much the stronger in the second game to go through to an 11/5 win, despite some fantastic opposition from Coline.

 In the fourth Deon took an early 5/1 lead, Coline gave everything she had to take the lead at 7/5, Deon then took back the lead at 9/7 and despite Coline levelling at 9/9 Deon managed to take the game at 11/9 for a 3 – 0 win.

Finally on court we had a tough encounter between South African Shaun Le Roux and the No 2 seed Nafiizwan Adnan from Malaysia. Shaun started very well to take a well deserved lead at 9/2, 'Wan' pulled back 2 before Shaun got match ball at 10/4, but then Mohd went into top gear as he raced through in one hand to take the game 12/10 after some brilliant play from both players.

Wan took a 5/0 lead in the second before Shaun pulled back to 4/5, Mohd pulled out to 9/4 and although Shaun saved a couple of game balls Mohd held out for the game at 11/6. With both players tiring the score was level at 3/3 before Wan found another bit of energy to move into a 10/4 match ball lead and again despite Shaun saving two match balls Wan went on to win the game 11/6 and the match 3 – 0.

Round One at Fitzwilliam
Roundup from Dan Zilic, more to follow ....

Perry advances to quarter-finals,
but Blake suffers shock defeat

Madeline Perry kept Irish interest alive in the Cannon Kirk Homes Irish Open 2013. Facing a tricky and talented Egyptian Mariam Metwally, Perry steadied herself after winning a shaky first game in the tie-break, and ran out a comfortable 3:0 win in the end.

“The first game was a bit bouncy and I hadn't quite found my range,” said Perry, “but once I did I think I was able to break her down quite nicely. Everyone has been telling me all day that she is really good, so I was definitely on my toes.”

Aisling Blake, who was in Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club yesterday to support Squash’s bid for the Olympics in 2020 together with Senator and former Olympian Eamonn Coghlan, was off the pace today and was duly beaten by Welsh number two Deon Saffery in 30 minutes.

The Dublin-born Irish Champion was seeded three in this tournament, and there was talk of a re-match of the Irish Championships finals between Perry and Blake in the semis. Alas, it was not to be. But Perry sees her win as an ideal preparation for the tournament:

"Today, mid-way through the third I began thinking that this is a really good opening match for me. I don't like if it's too easy, I think a good tough first round match helps me for the rest of the tournament." Reason enough to remain optimistic that Irish interests remain until the final day!

Coline beats Briggs

I played against Lauren a week ago in the French league and lost 3:1, that was the first time played against her. So I can safely say that that really helped in this match.

What did I do differently this time round? Just a few changes really, - I tried to keep the ball to the back more and tried not to go short as often or as early. The two of us are quite close in the rankings - she is 36 I think and I am 44 - but this is a really important win for me since it's the first top 40 player I beat in 2013, and also I think Lauren is a fantastic player with a lot of experience.

I came into this tournament wanting to get some good experience and matches for the upcoming European Championships. I am the number two on the French team behind my Camille Serme, who I train with in Paris. Our aim is of course to win, but the English are favourites as most times.

I've been playing the pro-circuit for five years now and by the end of this year I'd like to make it into the top 30. I've lately been working a lot on the tactical side of my game, and I am really happy that today all the hard work came off. So with no pressure on me tomorrow - I am likely to ply Aisling Blake tomorrow - I'm really looking forward to the match! [she'll actually play Deon Saffery]

Draws & Results

Live from Dublin

From Thursday we'll have live streaming through aertv.ie with commentary from Dan Zilic and Derek Ryan ... stay tuned! 

Arthur advances home hopes

Gaskin 3-0 Reda

I knew what to expect: he plays a good tempo, has a good rhythm and length. My plan was to stay in front of him and be positive, after all I had nothing much to lose. I believed in myself - I knew I had a chance if I played well, although facing such opposition you also know you can lose just as easily.

I had a gameplan from the start and what should I say: it worked out to perfection. There was a crucial period in the third when I was 5:3 up. We had about seven or eight lets in a row and I knew if I won that point and went up 6:3 it would give me a mental boost. At that point I was starting to hurt, so that point really was important, and luckily I got it.

This is a great result for me, really good, and hopefully this marks a bit of a bounce-back. I haven’t had a great season so far, so I’m just over the moon.

Up next is Chris Gordon, who is playing really well at the moment. I played him in Equador I think eight years ago, so that’s not much to go by, but I’ll just go in the court, with my game plan, and play my best in front of a great home crowd!


Arthur reports on round one

The Men ...

The men’s first round started off with the No 1 seed Chris Simpson of England facing qualifier Ivan Yuen from Malaysia. The first game started rather cautiously as expected but then Chris pulled away slowly to take the game 11/7. Chris then eased into a 7/3 lead in the second but Ivan managed to pull back and get game ball at 10/8 and although Chris saved one game point he gave away a stroke to give Ivan the game at 11/9.

However from then onwards Chris took the upper hand and eased through to take the next two games 11/6 and 11/8, despite some really good play from Ivan.

Next up was qualifier Jens Schoor from Germany against young Charles Sharpes from England who is ranked 16 places above Jens in the world rankings. The lead changed hands several times in the first game with both players battling superbly to get on top and Jens eventually managed to get game ball at 10/9, Charles levelled at 10/10but could not stop Jens from taking the game at 12/10. In the second it was pretty much the same with both players fighting hard for every point and went level at 8/8, but this time Charles held on to win 11/8.

In the third Charles took a well deserved early lead of 5/0, Jens came back slowly into the game to level at 8/8 again then got game ball at 10/9, and despite Charles levelling at 10/10 Jens served out at 12/10. Charles appeared to be tiring at the start of the fifth as Jens took a comfortable 6/1 lead, Charles found some extra energy to pull back to lead 7/6 but that was all he could manage as Jens then served out to take the game 11/7 and the match 3 games to 1 after 64 minutes.

We could have expected a rather quicker match next on, as Nasir Iqbal from Pakistan (WR 58) faced qualifier Lucas Serme from France (WR 87), but as usual this did not happen, except for 1 minute shorter. The first game started well for Lucas as he took a 7/3 lead but Nasir pulled slowly back to get to game ball at 10/9, Charles levelled at 10/10 and again at 1/11 but Nasir stayed strong to take the game 13/11.

Lucas seemed much the stronger in the second as he stayed in front all the way through to take the game 11/7. Again Lucas seemed slightly the stronger as he moved slowly into a 9/6 lead, but Nasir put a lot of energy into the next few rallies, got game ball at 10/9, and after several long hard fought rallies eventually took the game 13/11. However the effort proved too much for him as he had very little left to give and Lucas took advantage to take the next two games 11/3 each and a really good win 3 games to 2 after 63 minutes.

Nasir was complaining of severe chest pains when he came off court and eventually was taken to hospital as a precaution. We obviously all hope he will be OK and we will get an update on his condition as soon as we can.

The next match eventually went according to the seedings in just three games but still took 57 minutes of very close and intense squash as number 3 seed Omar Abdel Meguid of Egypt faced Australian Steven Finitsis, who is currently ranked some 37 places below him.

This seemed hard to believe as the first game was full of thrust and counter thrust in every rally, the score staying very even all the way through with Steven eventually getting to game ball first at 10/9, but Omar levelled up at 10/10, again at 11/11 and 12/12 and then served out for the game at 14/12. The second game was just as close with long hard fought rallies and went to 6/6 before Omar eased ahead to 9/6, then 10/7 and took the game 11/8.

Steven took an early lead of 6/3 in the third, Omar fought back to lead 8/6, Steven levelled at 8/8 but that was all he could manage then as Omar served out to take the game 11/8 for a 3 – 0 win.

Now running over an hour behind schedule, the next match up was even more intense, taking 65 minutes for a 3 game match, but with only 5 places in the rankings separating Shahier Razik of Canada from Chris Gordon from the USA it may have been expected.

The first game went completely in Chris’s favour as he went comfortably through 11/2, but he had to work much harder in the second but still managed to take it 11/8. Shahier came more into the match in the third and was level at 5/5 before Chris eased into an 8/5 lead, then Shahier went on to lead 9/8, getting his first game ball at 10/9 and 11/10, but unfortunately could not stop Chris from levelling then taking the game 13/11 for a good win for the USA.

The small crowd had grown considerably for the next match on court to watch wild card entrant, the No1 Irish player Arthur Gaskin against Ali Anwar Reda from Egypt, a player ranked some 57 places above him, and Arthur did himself, the crowd and his country proud as he fought valiantly to win in three really hard fought matches at 11/8 each, even though it took him 51minutes to do it, but the crowd went wild at the end of a magnificent match.

Still no respite from the hard fought and long matches as we went into the seventh match of the day still well behind schedule, as Shaun Le Roux of South Africa faced qualifier Zahed Mohamed from Egypt. Despite being 34 places behind Shaun in the rankings Zahed put on a brilliant performance in the first game to win 11/5, fought doggedly in the second to just lose out at 11/9, then fell behind somewhat in the third as Shaun took that game 11/4.

Both players were finding it hard to stay in the match in the fourth game as the lead changed hands several times with Zahed just getting to game ball first at 10/9. However with many great long rallies to come, with many lets making the game longer, Shaun managed to show his experience and win the game 14/12 for a 3 games to 1 win.

Finally at 10.15 pm the last match took to the court with No 2 seed Nafiizwan Adnan from Malaysia taking on lucky loser Johan Bouquet of France. With 80 places separating the players in the rankings, this match turned out to be much closer than expected although with the expected result. Johan stayed in touch really well in the first game and only just lost out at 11/9, but then Mohd upped his game to take the next one comfortably 11/4.

Johan showed he was not going down without a fight as in the third he got to game ball first at 10/6 then despite a short fight back by Mohd took the game 13/11. Unfortunately Mohd proved the stronger in the fourth as, despite Johan saving three match balls from 10/4 to 10/7 Mohd took the game 11/7 and the match 3 games to 1. At just turned 11 o’clock that finished today’s proceedings on court.

The Women ...

First up today on the women’s court were two evenly matched 23 year olds, Misaki Kobayashi of Japan and Lisa Aitken from Scotland. The first game saw both players showing a large array of beautiful squash shots, keeping the score fairly level until Lisa eased from 6/9 to get game ball at 10/9, but Misaki fought back well to take the game 13/11 after a series of very good rallies. Misaki then got slowly on top of the match as she eased through to take the second 11/7 and despite a late fight back by Lisa in the third Misaki held out to win that one 11/9.

Again we had two evenly matched players on court, Lauren Briggs of England and Coline Aumard from France. Although Coline is ranked 16 places below Lauren she showed lots of skill and determination to take the first two games comfortably 11/4 and 11/2. Lauren came back strongly in the third to win 11/5 but then could not hold out against the accurate and strong play of her opponent as Coline took the fourth game 11/7.

A fine match ensued in the next on court as England’s Emma Beddoes (WR 30) took on young Milou van der Heijden (WR 55) from the Netherlands. Emma took a good early lead of 8/2 in the first, Milou fought back really well to level at 8/8 but Emma then served out to take the game 11/8. The next was level up to 4/4, Milou led 5/4 but Emma’s experience showed through as she took the game 11/5. Third game was again even up to 6/6 but then Emma eased ahead slowly to take the game 11/8for a 3 – 0 win.

Another fine and exciting match was to follow as 19 year old Emily Whitlock of England faced Lucie Fialova from the Czech Republic. The first game was very even right up to 9/9 but then Emily served out for an 11/9 win. The second was again very close, with both players showing exquisite skills all around the court, but this time Lucie stayed the stronger to take the game 13/11. The third was again close until Emily eased in front 11/7, then despite Lucie leading 6/2 and 7/5 Emily took six straight points for the fourth game at 11/9.

Next up was the first of the two Irish favourite ladies, the very experienced No1 seed Madeline Perry was facing a qualifier, a 16 year old Egyptian Mariam Metwally who was coming strongly up the rankings recently, and Madeline found she had a fierce opponent on her hands as Mariam fought really strongly playing some great squash to stay level with Madeline, saved one game ball at 10/9 and again at 11/10 but then Madeline’s experience showed as she took the game 13/11. Madeline then had to use all her experience and skills to keep the youngster at bay before taking the next two games 11/5 each. A really good win for the Irish here in Dublin, but I am sure young Mariam has found a few admirers for her squash skills.

What happened next here at Fitzwilliam can only be described as the biggest upset of the week as local player and National Champion Aisling Blake, a huge favourite here at the club and seeded No 3 for the tournament, lost out to qualifier Deon Saffery from Wales, losing in three straight games, although she fought tigerishly to stay in the match at the end of the third, saving two match balls before going down 11/9. Being gracious in defeat as Aisling always is she conceded that Deon had been the better player and deserved her victory.

After the disappointment in the club had died down a little we then had a match between two very delicate but hard hitting stroke makers, the lovely Nicolette Fernandes of Guyana (WR 31) showing her skill against the just as lovely qualifier Sarah Cardwell, the 21 year old from Australia (WR 56) hoping to emulate the success of her mother Vicky. Sarah had little answer to Nicolette’s flicks and drop shots as she gave a fine exhibition of excellent squash to take the first two games 11/3 each. The third match was much closer as Sarah played valiantly to stay in the game and the match but despite saving a match ball at 9/10 Nicolette went on to win 12/10 and the match in three.

In the final match No2 seed Samantha Teran from Mexico (WR 18) faced up to England’s Lauren Selby (WR 46), where she started rather slowly and allowed Lauren to take the first game 11/6. Lauren had a good lead in the second and got game ball at 10/7 but Samantha pulled back very strongly to take that game 14/12. Lauren had a lead of 8/3 in the third but Samantha served out in one glorious hand to win 11/8, and with Lauren tiring fairly quickly Samantha eased through the fourth game to win 11/6 and get the last place in the quarter final tomorrow.

Qualifying complete at Fitzwilliam
Roundup from Dan Zilic ....

While there were no Irish players in action today, the outcome of two matches was to determine who both Madeline Perry and Aisling Blake were to face tomorrow when the main draw begins.

Perry will be facing Mariam Metwally, the young Egyptian who caused the upset of the day by beating top qualifying seed Gaby Huber 3:0 in 38 minutes.

While Madeline Perry is 65 positions ahead of Metwally in the current world ranking, the impressive result gives Madeline reason to be cautious. Aisling Blake on the other hand will face Deon Saffrey, after the Welsh number two beat Austrian number one Birgit Coufal.

There were no upsets in the men’s qualifying today, but plenty of close calls. Malaysian Ivan Yuen took five games to overcome Alejandro Garbi Caro of Spain, while Lucas Serme took two minutes longer to beat Joel Hinds by three games to two. Serme found himself two games down, and after winning the third 11:9, took control of the match.

At 9:10 down in the fifth Jens Schoor of Germany endured some nervous moments when his talented opponent Alex Phillips was hitting winner after winner, but Schoor strung together three points to take the match 3:2.

The evening ended with style when young Zahed Mohamed took to the court against Johan Bouquet, giving the crowd and his opponent a lesson in Egyptian Squash. Bouquet will not have minded losing as he drew the lucky loser spot, after Mark Krajcsak pulled out of the main draw.

Live from Dublin

From Thursday we'll have live streaming through aertv.ie with commentary from Dan Zilic and Derek Ryan ... stay tuned! 

Draws & Results

Coghlan and Blake back the bid ...

Eamonn Coghlan, the three time Irish Olympian and former World Champion over 5000 metres, took time out of his busy schedule as Irish Senator, to back Squash’s bid for inclusion into the 2020 Olympics.

Coghlan was supported by none other than Aisling Blake, the current world number 23, reigning Irish champion and President of the Women’s Squash Association.

More on GetSquashIn

More on GetSquashIn

Arthur Curran reports

With Malaysian Ivan Yuen ranked 90 places in the rankings above his opponent Alejandro Garbi from Spain, it may have been expected it would be a comfortable win for the young Malaysian, but as usual the expected did not happen and it turned out to be a marathon.

Alejandro stormed through to take the first game 11/5, but Ivan settled more into the match in the second and third game to take them 11/6 and 11/7, with lots of very good squash from both players. Much closer in the fourth as Alejandro managed tom eventually ease in front to take the game 11/9 and the match to a decider. Alejandro took a very tentative early lead 5/3 in the final game but as he tired the younger Ivan stormed in to take the game 11/5 and the match 3 -2 after 70 fantastically fought minutes.

After winning against fellow Englishman Ben Coleman yesterday, English hopes on St George’s Day rested on Joel Hinds, playing again an opponent 52 places higher in the rankings, Lucas Serme of France.

With great English pride Joel took the first two games 11/8 each and a fine win appeared to be on the cards, but although the score was very level throughout the third game, with both players battling for every point, Lucas managed to ease out to win 11/7. From that point onwards Joel appeared to tire fairly quickly and Lucas took the next two games 11/6 and 11/3 for a fine 3 – 2 win after 72 minutes of play.

The last Englishman still involved in the qualifiers took to the court next, as Alex Phillips (WR141) faced German Jens Schoor (WR 82) who had a bye yesterday. This match turned into another marathon although this time only lasting 60 minutes after Jens took the first game fairly comfortably 11/5.

Alex then upped his play tremendously to get to game ball in the second at 10/3, Jens strode back in to level at 10/10, but Alex managed to serve out for a 12/10 win. An absolute battle ensued in the third game as both players fought hard to edge ahead but Jens managed to get to game ball first at 10/7, Alex bravely levelled at 10/10 then got Game ball himself at 11/10 but this time Jens held out to take the game 13/11.

Jens either tired or lost all concentration in the fourth as Alex stormed through to take it 11/3, then both players must have used every last ounce of energy in their bodies to stay in the final game, as Alex led early at 4/1, 5/3, then got to 9/5, Jens levelled at 9/9, Alex got game ball at 10/9 but could not quite hold on for what would have been a fabulous win because Jens levelled the served out for a 12/10 win and took the match 3 games to 2.

For the final match of the day young Egyptian player Zahed Mohamed took on Frenchman Johan Bouquet, ranked 27 places below him in the rankings, and this time there was no chance of an upset as Zahed eased comfortably through in what was today a fairly short time of 29 minutes for a 3 games to nil victory.

All four women’s matches for the four places into the main draw were played in an excellent spirit throughout and were all finished in quite good time.

First up we saw the young Egyptian Mariam Metwally (WR 76) against the top seeded qualifier, the much more experienced Gaby Huber from Switzerland (WR 50), and Mariam raced into a 9/2 lead in the first game, lost a little concentration for Gaby to take the next four points, but then got back in to take the game 11/6.

Although the scores were fairly even early in the second game Mariam pulled away to take that one 11/5, and despite a short fight back at the end of the third from Gaby, Mariam again took that game 11/8 for a 3 – 0 win against a player twice her age.

With 16 places between them in the world rankings the younger bur higher ranked Sarah Cardwell from Australia took a well deserved win against Dutch girl Orla Noom, with both ladies showing us some excellent squash. Orla tells me that this may be her last major tournament as she has now started a fulltime career and had to cut down on her training, although we shall probably see her playing many league matches and hopefully still representing her country in internationals.

In the third match there were 18 places in the world rankings separating Milou van der Heijden (NED) from Maud Duplomb (FRA), but Maud put up a really brave fight against the younger Milou, especially in the second game, saving two game balls before losing out 12/10 and saving three match balls before again losing out in the third 13/11.

Finally we had Deon Saffery from Wales playing Birgit Coufal from Austria, and with only ten places separating these two ladies in the rankings it was a much closer tighter game than the earlier ones with Deon finally winning out in four excellent games.

No luck for Irish hopefuls
on opening day at Fitzwilliam
Roundup from Dan Zilic ....
photos from Arthur Curran

It was a busy day at Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club on the opening day of the Cannon Kirk Homes Irish Open 2013, with plenty of Irish interest in both events.

While touring Irish professionals Madeline Perry, AIsling Blake, and Arthur Gaskin aren’t called into action until the main draws begin on Wednesday, today seven Irish hopefuls had the opportunity to test their mettle against international competition.

In the ladies’ event, both Griffin Gillanders and Fiona Power were outclassed by their Dutch and French opposition. And neither Irish under 15s champion Stephanie Ryan nor national team player Ciara Moloney were able to get a prestigious game off their opponents.

In the men’s draw young Sean Conroy kicked off proceedings against in-form Lucas Serme, but the Frenchman proved too hot to handle. It wasn’t looking good for David Ryan when he went down 2:11 and 6:11 to Englishman Alex Phillips.

But in game three David put up a fantastic display of high-energy Squash, matching his more experienced opponent rally for rally.

But at this level David learnt that you have to use your chances, and after squandering one gameball 13:12, he lost 14:16 and therewith the match 0:3. It was left Oisin Logan to win that elusive game, but unfortunately Frenchman Johan Bouquet was too good on the day.

The day was marked by some typically tight qualifying matches in both draws: number one qualifying seed Gaby Huber of Switzerland squeezed past Chloe Mesic (FRA) 3:1, whereas Joel Hinds beat fellow Englishman Ben Coleman in a gruelling 81 minutes encounter.

The final qualifying matches will begin tomorrow at 2pm, in Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club, entry to all matches is free.

Live from Dublin

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Spotlight on Gaby Huber

Dan talks to the Swiss number one, fresh from winning her 6th National title at the weekend.

I played Chloe Mesic and the first three games were tight. I was actually up 6:1 in the first and lost after having three game balls. Second was better and I won 11:7, and I managed to win the third 12:10 after being down 5:10.

Luckily she was tired in the fourth and I won it 11:1. I had only played her in French league a couple of years ago before, so I'm happy to pull thorugh.

Tomorrow I'm facing Mariam Metwally, current 76 in the world and she won the Swiss Open a few weeks ago, so it promises to be tough.

What's it like to be the number one seed in qualifying?

Well, you are always hoping to still slip into the main draw, but if you don't being the number one seed is not much help. Okay, you won't play the other top four seeds and you might get a local, but as you can see today you can also get a really tough match.

Nonetheless, I am happy to be playing here. I just recently won the Swiss National Championships for the fifth time in a row (6 times in total) and am recovering from a lengthy Achilles tendon injury, so I am only back training since the beginning of the year.

My goal is to get back where I was before - my highest position was 29.

To do so I am training in Kriens, which is one of the strongest bases for professional Squash players in Switzerland. There I get to train with some of the men (Reiko Peter trains there) and the Swiss National coach Pascal Bruhin is there to give me input, too.

My prospects for this tournament? Well, I don't like thinking too far ahead. I'll be happy if I can get into the main draw and after that I'll take whatever comes up.

After this I have the European Team Championships in Amsterdam and the British Open ahead of me, so the more tough matches I can get here, the better.

Arthur on the spot
at Fitzwilliam ...

Due to several late withdrawals the men’s qualification draw was redone, and with two players receiving byes and one a walkover when his opponent failed to show, that left only five matches to play.

The pick of these matches was definitely the battle of the two Englishmen, late entrant Joel Hinds and the recent winner of the British Under 23 title Ben Coleman.

In a very hard fought and acrimonious match the first game went on for 27 minutes with the score very close all the way, with Ben just edging it 14/12 despite losing his cool and getting a conduct stroke against him.

From then on both players fought valiantly, although occasionally upsetting the referee, but the lower ranked player Joel managed to keep just ahead to take the next three games and the match 3 – 1 after 81 minutes of excellent squash.

Another great match up saw Argentinian Alejandro Gardi just edge a very close victory over Scotsman Kevin Moran 3 games to nil, although all three games were very close.

In the remaining matches Frenchmen Lucas Serme and Johan Bouquet had fairly comfortable wins over two young local club players, Sean Conroy and Oisin Logan respectively, whilst Englishman Alex Phillips struggled a little against a third local young player David Ryan before taking the third game 14/12.

The first women’s qualifier was between two European players, Gaby Huber of Switzerland and Chloe Mesic from France. Despite Chloe being the younger and less experienced player she fought back from a 6/1 deficit to stay in the first game and from 10/8 game ball against she finished strongly to take the game 12/10.

The second game was fairly even up to 7/7 but then Gaby’s experience showed as she served out to take the game 11/7. With Chloe starting stronger in the third she got to game ball at 10/5, but then Gaby blitzed her way thro to take the game 12/10, and continued in the same vein in the fourth to take it 11/1.

There followed a wonderful display of exquisite squash from another fine young Egyptian player, 16 year old Mariam Metwally who, despite some great opposition from Cyrielle Peltier of France, took the match in three games.

Sarah Cardwell of Australia put on another great show against the Argentinean Belen Etchechoury, who played some very strong squash but not a great deal of finesse, and Sarah managed to hold out in the first and third games which were very close.

Then came a run of four matches which each involved a rather experienced player against a young local club player, and as expected Orla Noom of the Netherlands, Maud Duplomb from France, Milou Van Der Heijden from the Netherlands and Birgit Coufal from Austria all had comfortable wins against Griffin Gillanders, Fiona Power, Ciara Moloney and Stephanie Ryan respectively, although all the four local girls enjoyed their matches and were pleased with the experience.

To finish off it was disappointment for young English girl Harriet Ingham who came in as a last minute replacement because of all the withdrawals, only to suffer a 3 – 0 defeat from Welsh girl Deon Saffery.

Nine up in Dublin
Preview from Arthur Curran

Everybody is getting geared up for the 9th edition of the Cannon Kirk Homes Irish Open to be held as usual at the Fitzwilliam Tennis Club in Dublin.

Sponsorship has been particularly difficult this year but the tournament committee have managed to maintain both PSA and WSA challenger events with a prize fund of 15,000 euros each.

Because of the decrease in the prize funds neither of last year’s winners will be in attendance, but fortunately for the Irish crowd last year’s runner-up Madeline Perry will be here again as No 1 seed, seeded to meet Mexico’s Queen of Squash Samantha Teran (WR 18) in the final,

To get that far she is seeded to meet Fitzwilliam’s other Irish Squash Queen Aisling Blake (WR21) in the semi final, which would be a repeat of a match-up only three weeks ago which saw Aisling take a tremendous five game victory over Madeline to take the Irish Closed Championship, so the locals will be hoping for a repeat.

All 12 women players in the main draw are in the top 45 in the world rankings with several more close behind amongst the qualifiers, which includes 4 young local players to get the local crowd interested.

Top seed in the PSA event will be Chris Simpson, the Englishman originally from Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Chris (WR26) will be up against some fierce competition from the 12 main draw contestants, drawn from 10 different countries, including Ireland’s own Arthur Gaskin, who receives a wildcard into the main event.

The 16 qualifiers are also from a large number of different countries, and includes 4 local players being given a chance to perform before a home crowd.

The popularity of this particular event is shown in the fact that for the men’s PSA event, as well as the 12 main draw and 16 qualifier contestants, there is a list of 17 reserves, all willing to attend at a moment’s notice, including No 1 reserve Joel Hinds, who told me last week he is really hoping for a call to attend.

Live from Dublin

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