Tyrone’s hopes of provincial glory in some of the main Ulster 40×20 championship divisions were dashed last weekend but great credit must go to players such as Shane O’Neill and Patrick McCrory who both put up a great show in their respective competitions.
Shane O’Neill, who had bowed out to Carrickmore’s Caolan Daly in the semi-final of the intermediate singles a week earlier, made great progress in the Men’s Open at the weekend, beating Antrim’s Seamus O’Tuama and Cavan’s James Brady to reach the last four. The Brackey man then had the daunting task of trying to lower the colours of world champion Paul Brady and he acquitted himself very well before going down on a scoreline of 21-10, 21-11.
Carrickmore’s Patrick McCrory went much closer in the Ulster minor championship. After beating Armagh’s Michael Carson, he then took on Brackey’s Gabhainn McCrystall in the semi-final stage and an impressive win took him through to the provincial decider where he would confront Monaghan’s Darren Doherty, conqueror of Tyrone’s Pol Clarke, who had recorded a great win over Armagh’s Conal McCavitt to reach the semi-finals.
Patrick made a bold bid to take the honours and prevailed by the narrowest of margins in the opening game, but then lost the next two, the match ending in a 21-16 scoreline in the third and deciding game.
Pol Clarke and Gabhainn McCrystall will now team up in the Ulster minor doubles championship and will be well in contention for the provincial honours.
Meanwhile, Ryan Daly impressed in the Ulster junior singles championship last weekend, qualifying for the semi-finals with victories over Cavan’s Eddie Halligan and Monaghan’s James Gavaghan on Saturday and Sunday respectively. Gavaghan had made it through on Saturday at the expense of Pomeroy’s Barney Corcoran who was forced to retire from their match through injury.
Loughmacrory’s Conor Duff missed out on a semi-final place in the junior singles when, after beating Down’s Tony O’Connor on Saturday, he lost to impressive Antrim man Sean Clarke in Sunday’s quarter-final tie in Carrickmore. Clarke had knocked out Carrickmore’s Michael Donnelly 24 hours earlier.
In the Ulster ladies open, Loughmacrory’s Lisa McAleer went down to Antrim’s world champion Fiona Shannon in last week’s semi-final but Lisa’s main target will be the Ulster intermediate singles title, which she will strive to win on 18th February when she meets Armagh’s Fionnuala McKenna.
Caolan Daly will also be hoping to sample intermediate singles success in the men’s section on that same date, February 18th, when he features in the Ulster final.
Niall Kerr, meanwhile, is scheduled to face Antrim’s John McGarry in the Ulster Masters A singles semi-final this weekend, while Sean McCrory, Finbarr Fullen and Kenny Curran have exited the masters and silver masters B singles competitions, although the latter pair still have the master B doubles semi-final to contest on Saturday week in Carrickmore.