Garavan's Bar Paddy Whack Walsh
West of Ireland Open 2015
14-19 Apr, Galway, Ireland, $10k
Andre Davies and David Noone report
year's eagerly anticipated Paddy Whack Walsh West of Ireland open
final took place this afternoon and the players didn't disappoint as
the English number 7 seed James Earles took on the talented Egyptian
and number 4 seed Ali Farag.
Farag got off to a great start and set the pace early on forcing
Earles to work really hard to keep up and won the first 11-6.
Impressively though Earles dug in deep and matched Farag point for
point in the second and broke away at the end to steal it 11-9. The
battle continued in the third game as Earles was really trying to
force the pace and was testing Farag to the max using length and a
very accurate short game.
handful of errors from the racket of Earles allowed Farag to take
the initiative and the next two games 11-9 and 11-6 to be
crowned the new Paddy Whack Walsh West of Ireland open champion
As the championship has drawn to a close, on reflection it's been a
great week of squash. It's been a pleasure to have the players we
had competing in our club.
It has been inspiring for us in the west of Ireland to see such
talented and dedicated athletes flying the flag for squash and we
very much hope to be looking after them again this time next year.
of Ireland Open 2015
14-19 Apr, Galway, Ireland, $10k
 Mahesh Mangaonkar (Ind)
11-8, 11-6, 11-9 (39m)
Mohamed Elgawarhy (Egy)
8-11, 11-7, 15-13, 7-11, 13-11 (95m)
11-8, 9-11, 11-3, 11-4 (40m)
 James Earles
 James Earles
11-6, 9-11 11-6. 11-9 (40m)
 Ali Farag
 James Huang (Tpe)
11-7, 4-11, 16-14, 11-7 (34m)
Shehab Essam (Egy)
 James Earles (Eng)
11-13, 15-13, 11-8, 11-6 (46m)
Sanjay Singh (Mas)
 James Earles
11-7, 11-3, 11-9 (42m)
Jan van den Herrewegen
 Jens Schoor (Ger)
12-10, 2-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9 (68m)
Jan van den Herrewegen (Bel)
[Q] Rui Soares (Por)
11-5, 11-9, 11-7 (21m)
 Ali Farag (Egy)
 Ali Farag
11-4, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6 (47m)
 Ali Farag
11-3, 11-6, 11-2 (31m)
 Rex Hedrick
Dougie Kempsell (Sco)
11-7, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9 (69m)
 Ivan Yuen (Mas)
[Q] Michael Craig (Irl)
11-8, 5-11, 11-9, 19-17 (70m)
 Carlos Cornes (Esp)
 Carlos Cornes
5-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 (57m)
 Rex Hedrick
[Q] Bryan Byrne (Irl)
9-11, 11-3, 11-7, 11-2 (51m)
 Rex Hedrick (Aus)
15-Apr, Qualifying Finals:
Michael Craig (Irl) 3-2 Robert Downer (Eng)
11-4 11-6 11-13 8-11 11-3 (75m)
Rui Soares (Por) 3-2 Sean Conroy (Irl)
13-11 11-6 8-11 4-11 11-4 (53m)
Bryan Byrne (Irl) 3-2
Ashley Davies (Eng)
11-5 3-11 7-11 13-11 12-10 (70m)
Jan van den Herrewegen (Bel) 3-0 Micah Franklin (Ber)
11-7 11-3 11-3 (33m)
14-Apr, Qualifying Round One:
Michael Craig (Irl) 3-0 Mike Lewis (Usa)
11/6, 11/2, 11/6 (27m)
Rui Soares (Por) 3-0 Joeri Hapers (Bel)
11/5, 11/9, 11/6 (31m)
Sean Conroy (Irl) 3-0 David Noone (Irl)
11/1, 11/4, 11/5 (27m)
Bryan Byrne (Irl) 3-0 Arthur Moineau (Fra)
11/4 rtd (10m)
Ashley Davies (Eng) 3-0 Connor Sheen (Eng) 11/7,
11/7, 11/8 (29m)
Micah Franklin (Ber) 3-0 Keith Moran (Irl)
11/4, 11/6, 11/8 (36m)
Farag in Final showdown
The first semi final today was
between the Egyptian Shehab Essam and Englishman James
was always going to be a question as to whether Essam could recover
after yesterday's titanic five set battle and he appeared to be
moving pretty well in the first game but it was Earles who was
dictating, mixing up the pace really well and he took it 11-8.
Essam came to life in the second and appeared to respond to Earles'
pressure and took the second in a tight game finishing 11-9. The
next two games were a more straightforward affair for Earles as
Essam was visibly suffering with a slight niggle from yesterday.
Earles efficiently won the next two games to 3 and 4 to book his
rightful place in the final.
Farag of Egypt was on court for just 31 minutes against the
Australian Rex Hedrick. His flair and shot making was just a
little too much for Hedrick who battled hard but couldn't quite get
a grip on the match. Farag managed to win 3-0 11-3 11-6 11-2.
An interesting clash of styles awaits us tomorrow as the classic
game of English squash meets the attacking and at times outrageous
flair of the Egyptian game so it will be exciting to see who comes
out on top and who manages to get their hands on the Paddy Whack
Walsh West of Ireland Trophy tomorrow.
Seeds tumble in Galway round one
Andre Davies and David Noone report
After the drama of yesterday's battle of the five setters it
was always going to be a tough act to follow, but there was no
shortage of upsets to report.
though the first match between Ali Farag of Egypt and Rui
Soares of Portugal was over in three games, the skill level from
both players was immense. The ball never seemed to be dead as both
players demonstrated their retrieval skills but even more impressive
was the short game from both players.
The kind of touch and accuracy that most players can only dream of
was on display from both Soares and Farag but it was Farag that had
the more complete package on the day and he managed a good solid 3-0
win to go into the quarters tomorrow.
Sanjay Singh took on James Earles on court 6. James
was looking sharp at the start of the first, pushing all four
corners, keeping Sanjay on the back foot. At 9-4 down the Malaysian
mounted a come back, a few clean winners and well constructed
rallies he managed to force a decider and take the game 13-11.
The second was a much closer affair, both players going point for
point right through to the tiebreak with Earles taking it 15-13 in
16 minutes. Much the same in the 3rd, entertaining rallies played in
a very sporting manner, great for the local juniors to witness such
fair play and athleticism. 11-8 to James after 11 minutes. A strong
start in the 4th, 6-2 for James who kept that cushion through the
game, taking it 11-6.
cracking five setter on the show court between Jan Van Den
Herrewegen from Belgium and Jens Schoor from Germany
followed with a fiercely competitive match between two absolute
gentlemen. Grit, determination and a hefty amount of skill saw the
match seesaw back and forth right to the very end.
A tie break lead to a 12-10 first game to Van Den Herrewegen which
was followed by a comparatively easy second game for the German
taking it 11-2. The next three games were physically draining with
some incredible rallies, again using all four corners but it was the
talented Belgian player who managed to dig deep and pull out the
victory winning in 70 minutes.
Not sure where to start with the match between the giant killer
Michael Craig one of the two remaining local spot players, and
Carlos Cornes the talented spaniard.
The first game was nip and tuck with some very high quality squash
but very surprisingly Craig made three unforced errors to hand the
game to Cornes. Craig increased the pressure in the second and
played some sublime squash to take it 11-5 and then both players
'upped' the quality with some immense rallies demonstrating what
superb athletes they both are. The tension was palpable both on and
off the court with the local support for Craig in good voice at
times seeming to rattle Cornes but he responded like the pro he is
and took the fourth game 11-9.
fourth game was simply brilliant with rallies testing the players to
the extreme. Craig's use of the ball was breathtaking demonstrating
a squash maturity way beyond his years. Multiple game and match
balls came and went and it appeared the Spaniard was struggling to
put the match away with a few errors. Similarly Craig couldn't
convert his opportunities either.
It was the Spaniard's experience that came though as he played some
smart rallies at the end to take the fourth 19-17 in what was a
thrilling match for all. Michael has earned the respect of many on
this visit to Galway and Cornes looked quite relieved to win. In
response the loss Michael said "it's a learning curve". Respect to
The scot Douglas Kempsell put in a really solid performance
against the Malaysian Ivan Yuen in a tough match lasting over
an hour. All four games were hotly contested and it was touch and go
after the second was taken by Yuen but Kempsell pulled through and
style to take the match 3-1.
Byrne and Rex Hendrick did battle in a four set match
that pushed both players physically. Byrne pushed Hendrick hard in
the first game and managed to nick it 11-9. Hendrick piled on the
pressure and demonstrated his physical prowess and one the second
convincingly 11-3. Byrne responded in style and pushed Hendrick to
the max in the third but Hendrick had just that little bit more to
offer taking the game 11-7 and then sealing the match with a
convincing 11-2 win in the fourth. Sadly that's it from the Irish
contingent this year but they did themselves, the event and Irish
squash proud. Fair play to them!
Top seed Mahesh Mangaonkar faced a tough first round against
The Egyptian Mohamed Elgawarhy. The pace was frantic from the
get go, both players striking very aggressively and impressing the
crowd with their shot variation, court coverage and extreme racket
loose ball was pounced on, causing heavy traffic around the T, the
referee being called on a little too often. Some stern words were
spoken by the referee which seem to clear things up for the rest of
the match. Mohamed taking the first two games 11-8, 11-6 left Mahesh
a mountain to climb but he came out firing.
He took a 6-2 lead, constructing some solid rallies and counter
dropping to finish them off. Mohamed had plenty left in the tank
however and won the next 7 rallies, putting pressure on the Indian.
Still as aggressive as the first game, high octane rallies needing
almost four winners to finish a point, the Egyptian took his chances
well and converted the third 11-9 taking the match three games to
Meanwhile over on court six the evenings last game finished up with
another Egyptian win, Shehab Essam taking down James Huang
in another impressive battle 11-7, 4-11, 16-14, 11-7.
Looking forward to more of the same high quality, entertaining
squash tomorrow with the quarter-final matches starting at 4pm.
Qualifying complete in Galway
as Byrne and Craig progress
Andre Davies reports
First up today at Galway Lawn Tennis Club was Local Spot
Craig versus Englishman Robert Downer. After a relatively
steady start involving many long rallies Craig made his move to win
the first comfortably 11-4. Craig suffered a minor scare with slight
niggling injury to his shin in the second game but battled through
to win the second, frustrating Downer somewhat.
In the third the heat was raised a few degrees with Downer
responding and showing his PSA metal and managed to grab the third
game 13-11 after a superb effort having saved three match points in
a 22 minute thriller. A slightly tired looking Craig tried to keep
up the pressure but appeared to succumb to Downer's fitness in the
court losing 11-8 and there was consensus in the fifth that Downer
might run away with it. However Craig got off to a superb start and
managed to gain an 9-0 advantage in the fifth. Downer tried to rally
round and make a comeback but it wasn't to be as Craig took the
fifth 11-3 in a thoroughly entertaining match.
Michael now has played two PSA matches and is delighted to maintain
his 100% win rate!!
Next we were treated to another tough five setter involving the
Irishman Sean Conroy and the talented Portuguese Ruis
Soares. Soares' racket skills were there for all to see and he
quickly developed a tidy 2-0 lead despite Conroy's outstanding
movement around the court. Conroy redoubled his efforts and it paid
huge dividends especially as it appeared as though Soares was
beginning to tire. Conroy's unbelievable engine and and retrieving
skills earned the right for a fifth game showdown but unfortunately
for the Irishman it wasn't to be as Soares earned his place in the
main draw with a fine display of squash winning the fifth 11-4.
If two five setters weren't enough we had the excitement of another
between Brian Byrne from a Ireland and the Englishman Ashley Davies. After a very strong first game by Brian seeing
him win it 11-5 Davies regrouped and used his power and accuracy to
win the next two 11-3 and 11-7 to head into a strong 2-1 lead. A
very tense fourth with some immense rallies was clinched by Byrne to
level at 2-2 setting the match up for an epic fifth which went all
the way to a tiebreak which Byrne won 12-10 to take his place in the
The final match was a less complicated affair with Belgian Jan
Van Fen Herrewegen winning in impressive style against Micah
Franklin from Bermuda. Proving just a little too strong and
accurate Van Den Herrewegen closed the match 3-0 in 33 minutes.
Onwards to the main draw tomorrow!
Under way in Galway
David Noone reports
The West Of Ireland Open first round qualifying got under way at
Galway Lawn Tennis Club today featuring four local Irish players and
eight international professionals.
First up was 18 year old
Michael Craig from Belfast, fresh
from a 3rd place finish at the recent European Junior Championships.
Michael maintained his fine form and saw off American Mike Lewis
in a straight forward 3-0 win, showing his full set of skills. He
held the ball extremely well on his forehand volley forcing Mike to
do most of the work and wore him down with a brilliant short game.
Rui Soares of Portugal came up against Belgian Joeri
Hapers in the next match, a strong performance from Rui got him
off court in 3 games, forcing too many errors from the Belgian's
Ashley Davies was too strong for Connor Sheen,
striking the ball at a ferocious pace and clinical on the volley,
Ashley put on a great display for local players and won in three.
Local Galway player Dave Noone was always slightly off the
high pace set by Dublin professional Sean Conroy and couldn't
get close in any of the three games. Sean made very few unforced
errors and put together solid rallies finishing nicely to the front,
too strong for David to cope with.
Sligo man Keith Moran put up a great fight against Bermuda's
Micah Franklin, Keith has been in flying form of late but
couldn't quite cope with Franklin's pace, a tight three games with
long rallies on a hot court, good squash but no local joy in this
match, 3-0 to Micah.
Local joy did come in the next match, Brian Byrne putting
immense pressure on Arthur Moineau for a game and a half but
unfortunately Arthur had to withdraw with a leg injury.
Tomorrows matchup between Brian and Ashley is will be one to watch,
all locals hoping the Connacht player can push on into main draw.