Congratulations to Team Antrim (Belfast) for clinching the Ulster Inter-Counties title! This marks the first time the event has taken place in an astonishing 41 years. A massive kudos to Norman McBride for breathing life back into this incredible team tournament!
The Winning Co Antrim Squad was a stellar collaboration between Ormeau and Glenburn Table Tennis Clubs: Conor Nugent, Phil Wallace, and Chris White from Ormeau and Steve Hughes and Felix Sum from Glenburn.
The nail-biting final was a down-to-the-wire match against a formidable County Tyrone team featuring Mark McAlister, Des Flannigan, Rodney McKirgan, Daniel Irwin, and Mervyn Taylor. Ultimately, Co Antrim (Belfast) emerged victorious with a narrow 4-3 win to claim the C. McBride sponsored Shield.
Player of the Tournament was County Antrim’s Phil Wallace. Phil won all his singles matches and he also clinched 3 doubles games alongside teammate Chris White. What’s even more impressive is Phil’s heroics in the final singles match, where he saved three tournament points from 8-10 down in the fifth game to win 13-11. Nice one Phil!
The Third placed County was County Armagh who incidentally was the last team to win the event in 1982. The county team this year contained a player who won the McBride Shield back in 1982, the evergreen Jimmy Robinson.
A shout out to County Antrim B who, under the captaincy of Ballymena TTC player Vladimir Brzak, qualified for the top Division and finished a credible fourth.
Thanks again to Norman and the Ballymena club for sponsoring the Jimmy O’Hara Shield for the Division 2 Inter Counties event. Jimmy, now in his mid-nineties played table tennis for Ireland in the late 1940s and early 1950s. A true legend of the game and still President of Ballymena Table Tennis Club, the Shield is a fitting tribute to his status in the game. The first winner of the Shield was the team from County Down who defeated Co. Monaghan in the final. The third tier Antrim C team finished third losing out in the semi-final to the eventual Division 2 winners Co Down.
We’d like to extend our deepest gratitude to all players for their participation and for uniting the clubs in what was an amazing, fun-filled event. A big thank you to Ballymena Academy for the venue and Mid and East Antrim Council for their sponsorship of table tennis equipment that added a certain professionalism to the occasion.