Medals, pride and enjoyment in Lanarkshire for Tralee DelegationWhat an incredible week for the athletes who represented Tralee and Ireland at this week’s International Children’s Games in Lanarkshire, Scotland from August 2nd to 8th: two gold medals and one bronze in the Judo competitions; one gold and silver in the ladies golf; the quarter finals of the soccer competition; and personal bests from all swimmers in the pool. The 18 athletes who performed with such distinction are all rightly proud of their achievements in the largest annual multi sport international youth event in the world, as are all members of the delegation heads and coaches, and the travelling family supporters who totalled no less than 40 at full strength. In the overall scheme of things pride of place goes to the medal winners, whose return of five medals in Judo and Golf surpasses anything achieved individually by Tralee at the Games previously.
In Judo Cillian Brosnan won 2 Gold medals in U 38 and at the higher weight of 42 Kilos .In the U 38 Kilos his opponents did not make the weigh in, so Cillian was moved up to the higher weight of U 42 Kilos. This was the best of three contests against his Chinese Macau opponent where Cillian was giving away 4 kilos in weight..The first match went down to the wire where Cillian won by Decision. Coach Thomas Patten decided to change tactics for the second round. Cillian attacked from the off, putting pressure on his opponent, Two minutes into the contest Cillian attacked with a perfectly timed Morote Seoinage to level his opponent and win the Gold medal by Ippon. The cheer from the Irish supporters could be heard back in Kielduff! Ryan O Sullivan of Farranfore had a very difficult side of the pool with a Russian and a Polish player. He beat the Russian with a terrifically timed Osoto, throwing him for Ippon. Next up was the Polish player where Ryan got caught for a small score and lost. This placed Ryan second in his pool which meant he had to fight the winner on the opposite side of the Pool, the Iraqi Favourite, for a place in the Final. The contest started well with Ryan rocking the Iraqi with Osoto Makikomi. The Iraqi eventually attacked with Te Guruma catching Ryan and finishing the contest .The Iraqi went on to win the final against his Austrian opponent. This left Ryan with a Bronze which was a great result, though with a little luck he could have snatched a silver.. Eoin o Brien had a very difficult U50 Kgs.His first fight was against a Russian opponent where he won with ippon. His second was against the Iraqi where he eventually lost. This left him with a bronze medal fight against a Lanarkshire fighter. Eoin took the fight to the Scot throwing him with Osoto Makekomi for Yuko (5 points). With ten seconds left in the contest and Eoin ahead he received a very controversial penalty which evened out Eoin’s Yuko score. Scores were tied at full time. The Golden score of one minute commenced with Eoin attacking strongly but his move was countered to leave the Scot with a Bronze and Eoin in fourth place. David Long fought his heart out but was giving away 5 kilos in weight to his opponents. He lost his first fight by the smallest of scores and was unlucky not to win. His second fight was to the eventual silver medallist from Slovakia, where he got countered for Wazari which unfortunately put David out. Incredibly the Judo squad of four, competing at the Games for the first time, finished with two gold medals for Cillian, bronze for Ryan, Eoin in fourth place and David in joint fifth. These results are testament to the excellent work being done at the Kerry School of Judo in Kielduff, under the tutelage of Danny Roche and Thomas Patten.
The golf team, brought home Gold and Silver in the Ladies competition, which allowed player’s handicaps in their combined totals, through Sarah Dowling and Aoife Crowley respectively. From day one of the two day stroke competition these girls led the way. Aoife was two up on Sarah at the close of play – 3 under par/1 under par - on opening day and led the field, which earned them the Plate awards for day one. On day two, Saturday, at Hamilton Golf Course-a Parklands course, described by Coach Vera Tierney as being “in excellent condition and majestically lined with trees” Sarah played just that little bit more consistently than her good friend Aoife to overhaul the deficit and win by just one stroke. Sarah’s combined total was 136 (8 under) and Aoife’s 137 (7 under), remarkable scoring over the two days. Ivan Parker and Dylan Fitzgerald entered the boy’s completion in which all players played off scratch. It was therefore a big ask for these two young golfers to finish in the top three, but both played extremely well over the two days-well within their handicap range- to finish in the top ten. The competition was excellently run by officials at Hamilton and Games organisers, with the inclusion of the big scoreboard, complete with names, nationality, scores etc a lovely feature for our young golfers. It could have been the British Open where the Irish also led the field! Certainly it was a day to remember and for others to ascribe to in the future.
The Swim team performed admirably and nothing more could have been asked from them in terms of individual performances in what was a very crowded field and a most competitive environment. Regret of the pool competition was the injury to third time participant, Aisling O Dwyer, which greatly hampered her efficiency, and deprived her and the team of a possible “A” final appearance. Katie Stack swam superbly all meet and produced a 100% record of personal bests in her 4 events. The most outstanding performance came in her 200m Backstroke event where she carved an amazing 8 seconds off her personal best. Grainne Sheehy from Duagh also was at her peak for the event and produced three new PB’s from her 4 swims. In doing so she won two of her heat starts and her 50m back crawl swim was exceptional, according to her coach, Ger Mc Donnell. David Murphy also produced some exceptional swims, especially in his 100m butterfly where he knocked 3 seconds off his PB.
On the soccer front Tralee met Pesnici of Slovenia in their first group game. It was nip and tuck all the way with Tralee fighting back from a one goal deficit to win with a brace from star forward Jesse O Sullivan. Roman Laucher was the team’s dominant personality on the pitch, bossing the defence and instigating many attacks, ably assisted by Klaudio Dema and Cian Sheridan. Their second game was against Karachi of Pakistan and after a goalless first half three goals from Roman Laucher, Sean Ryan and Cian Sheridan set up a a top of the table clash with Szombately of Hungary. The team was seriously hampered by injuries to Roman and Ryan, but performed heroically before going under 3-2, with goals from O Sullivan and Ryan. Goalkeeper Jack Shortt made some fine saves as Tralee tired late in the second half. This defeat resulted in a quarter final spot against pre tournament favourites and eventual gold medallists, Lanarkshire, where a Tralee side deprived of the services of Laucher through injury, were no match for the soon to be crowned champions. Tralee had played with style, vigour and spirit throughout the competition and can feel very proud of their achievement in playing four matches from a possible six games. The large following of parents and friends at their matches created a very unique atmosphere at all their games and contributed much to the pride and passion seen on and off the field. Overall the Games have provided a lasting experience for all delegation members and the parents/family members who travelled. Under head of delegation, Anne Mc Gilton, accompanied by former medal winner for Tralee in the 2008 San Francisco games, Molly Mc Gilton, and coaches Thomas Patten, Ger Mc Donnell, Vera Tierney and John Byrne, all participating children were in good hands at their accommodation at St Andrews High School in Coatbridge, where the facilities and food were excellent.
Behaviour of all members of delegation was first class, friendly and co-operative throughout, with no little singing, good fun and enjoyment. No doubt the trip to Edinburgh on Wednesday, arrivals day, helped considerably to gel the group together and their unity as a team, their support for one another, and their performances in all their sport disciplines was exemplary. The chairman of Tralee ICG Ltd (Mike Culloty) emphasised that this Games was one of the best organised that he had seen since the wonderful first time experience in Coventry in 2005. “Undoubtedly the fact that we were in the middle of Celtic culture with a definite bias toward Ireland contributed to the welcome we received. However, in whatever capacity required the Scottish people, officials and volunteers could not do enough as hosts to befriend and help personnel from the 75 cities and 35 countries at the Games. If in the future Kerry gets the opportunity to host there is no doubt that we will look ito the Lanarkshire Games as the template for our own event”. He was loud in his praise of the coaches, officials and supporters who travelled with the teams and expressed gratitude to all who helped in any way to make participation at this year’s Games a reality. Next year’s event takes place in Daegu in South Korea, which will shortly host the World Athletics Championships.