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Garavan's Bar Paddy Whack Walsh
West of Ireland Open 2015
14-19 Apr, Galway, Ireland, $10k
19-Apr, Final:
Farag takes Galway title
Andre Davies and David Noone report

This 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.

A 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 2015.

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.

West of Ireland Open 2015
14-19 Apr, Galway, Ireland, $10k
Round One
16 Apr 
17 Apr
18 Apr
19 Apr
[1] Mahesh Mangaonkar (Ind)
11-8, 11-6, 11-9 (39m)
Mohamed Elgawarhy (Egy)
Mohamed Elgawarhy
8-11, 11-7, 15-13, 7-11, 13-11 (95m)
Shehab Essam
Shehab Essam

11-8, 9-11, 11-3, 11-4 (40m)

[7] James Earles

[7] James Earles


11-6, 9-11 11-6. 11-9 (40m)


[4] Ali Farag
[6] James Huang (Tpe)
11-7, 4-11, 16-14, 11-7 (34m)
Shehab Essam (Egy)
[7] James Earles (Eng)
11-13, 15-13, 11-8, 11-6  (46m)
Sanjay Singh (Mas)
[7] James Earles
11-7, 11-3, 11-9 (42m)
Jan van den Herrewegen
[3] 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)
[4] Ali Farag (Egy)
[4] Ali Farag
11-4, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6 (47m)
Dougie Kempsell
[4] Ali Farag

11-3, 11-6, 11-2 (31m)

[2] Rex Hedrick

Dougie Kempsell (Sco)
11-7, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9 (69m)
[5] Ivan Yuen (Mas)
[Q] Michael Craig (Irl)
11-8, 5-11, 11-9, 19-17 (70m)
[8] Carlos Cornes (Esp)
[8] Carlos Cornes
5-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 (57m)
  [2] Rex Hedrick
[Q] Bryan Byrne (Irl)
9-11, 11-3, 11-7, 11-2 (51m)
[2] 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)
18-Apr, Semis:
Earles and Farag in Final showdown

The first semi final today was between the Egyptian Shehab Essam and Englishman James Earles.

There 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.

Ali 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.
Shehab wins Egyptian marathon
in Galway quarters
Andre Davies and David Noone report

We're getting towards the business end of the championship now and first up today we had Englishman James Earles taking on the Belgian Jan Van Den Herrewegen. The quality was really high from both players but right from the off Earles dictated play putting the Belgian under severe pressure. Both players demonstrated amazing movement and strength but Earles always appeared to have the upper hand and despite a really valiant effort by Van Den Herrewegen is was Earles that managed a convincing 3-0 win to take him into the semi finals.

The number four seed Ali Farag was in action next against the strong Scot Doug Kempsell. The Egyptian, Farag got a off to a quick start taking the first 11-4. Kempsell looked a little winded early on but to his huge credit he dug in (no pun intended) and took the second 11-9. The next two games went the way of the Egyptian but not without a valiant fight from Kempsell who battled hard and demonstrated some great shot-making for the crowd. Ali moves through to the semis.

The spaniard Carlos Cornes and Australian Rex Hendrick battled it out next and played some good, tight and disciplined squash. The rallies were of high quality and a pleasure to watch and it was the spaniard who made the first move closing out the first impressively 11-5. Rex responded in style and took the next three games with some superb squash winning the match and heading into the semis in just under the hour.

The last quarterfinal match could well have been the tournament final such was the quality! It was the battle of the Egyptians, Mohamed Elgawarhy who toppled the number one seed yesterday and Shehab Essam and it was simply superb!!

Exhausting rally after exhausting rally kept the crowd spellbound for 95 minutes. The quality of the rallies was phenomenal, the athleticism unbelievable and the skill level is something that we have not witnessed at Galway Lawn a Tennis Club before. The match involved an injury break of 15 mins for Essam but somehow he managed to regroup and push through taking the fifth 13-11.

Both players collapsed to the floor after the match and who could blame them? It was a privilege to watch. Even the spectators need time to recover before the semis tomorrow! Can't wait!

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.

Even 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.

Another 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.

The 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 both men!

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.

Brian 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 head speeds.

Any 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 love.

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 Michael 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 main draw.

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 racket.

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.

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