For the first time ever, four teams from schools in Kilkenny have won Leinster titles in badminton to qualify for the All-Ireland badminton finals in Gormanstown College on March 20.
With the u-19 Leinster event yet to be held, there is still a chance that Ballyhale and Johnstown might join the others. Prior to this year, the most Kilkenny schools to take part in one year was two.
Already qualified are Colaiste Mhuire Johnstown’s u-16 boys, two Loreto Kilkenny teams at u-16 Division 1 and 2, and then this week Kilkenny College Boys u-14 qualified after a very close final. Previously, Kilkenny College had managed two excellent wins over local rivals in both girls’ and boys’ badminton.
Some 26 teams representing schools from throughout the county fought it out for the u-14 schools titles in the Watershed earlier in the month. It was good to see teams from Colaiste Pobail Osrai competing, as well as the return of teams from Grennan College Thomastown and Mooncoin.
Kilkenny College boys saw off the challenge from their closest rivals St Kieran’s College to win the boys’ event. The B boys was also won by Kilkenny College, with a repeat of the runners-up St Kieran’s.
The girls from the ‘College also were in full swing, winning their event; the second team came in just ahead of Loreto following a count of points being level on games. The huge numbers of teams is wonderful for local badminton, which is very strong in some clubs and is also being played more in schools.
The B girls was also won by Kilkenny College, with Scoil Aireagail Ballyhale coming in a close second. Both A teams went on to Leinster where they won Div 2 and St Kieran’s Div 3.)
The A girls was also won by Kilkenny College, and following a tie for second place on games won, Kilkenny College second team pipped Loreto on points won. The B Girls was won by Kilkenny College third team with Scoil Aireagail coming in a close second.
Kilkenny College girls travelled to the Leinster Competitions and performed well but Dundalk went on to grab the All-Ireland spot.
Loreto caused a sensation, winning Division 1 and Division 2. The Division 1 team, consisting of Megan O’ Keefe ( Captain), Charlotte Huston, Eilis Brennan and Lisa Kehoe, never dropped a game when winning 6-0 against St Vincent’s of Dundalk, St Joseph’s Cluney and Holy Faith Clontarf.
In Division 2, team caption Emma Manning led the charge and teammates Roisin Kealy, Lydia Huston and Doireann Harding didn’t disappoint. They had a strong run of victories against St Mary’s Naas, St Kieran’s and Colmcilles – the Dublin champions.
The co-ordinator for schools badminton in Kilkenny, Heather Sharman, said that this year saw the biggest entry ever for school events all held in the Watershed, with 12 schools from around the county participating.
“It shows the great work done by the Kilkenny junior clubs as well as work done by the school staff in promoting the sport of badminton and teams such as these come along in waves when you get four strong players in the one age group,” she said.
“So hopefully an All-Ireland title may head this way; the last one won by a local school was in 2010 when Kilkenny College won the boys u-19 title.”