Sunday September 22, 2019
Three Irish teams in Top 8 of Small Countries Senior Beach Championships
Three Irish Women’s teams finished in the Top 8 of the Small Countries Association Senior Championships in Perth, Scotland over the weekend. The results signifying positive progress as Volleyball Ireland looks to increase participation and improve performance on the International stage.
The top ranked pairing of Miriam Gormally & Alex Graves came agonisingly close to a podium finish losing the 3rd place playoff match to the tournament and home favourites Lynne Beattie and Melissa Coutts. The first set was evenly poised at 16 a piece before three errors on the bounce allowed the Scottish pair to take control. The 2nd set was much of the same with several Irish attacks falling the wrong side of the tape. Cheered on by the vociferous home crowd the top seeds ran out winners 21-17, 21-13.
The Yiassoumi sisters of Cyprus had earlier defeated Ireland in the Semi Finals (21-12, 21-14) to setup a winner takes all v Iceland.
Commenting on the tournament Graves said, “it was really great to get back on the sand representing Ireland after the Continental Cup in June. All four teams battled really well and to get three in the top 8 is a good sign.”
Earlier on, Gormally & Graves beat fellow Girls in Green Marie Claire Sabogal and Fiona Lamont 21-14, 21-17. The match showing the competitive, yet friendly spirit of the Irish squad – although it did cause an agonising conflict of interest for Head Coach Luciana Hollanda, who took charge of all 4 competing teams.
Both teams cruised in to the Quarters with Gormally & Graves topping Pool B, before Sabogal and Lamont despatched of third seeds Emma Patterson & Lucy Kavanagh-Dick from Northern Ireland in one of the standout performances of the tournament in the round of 12 (21-17,21-17).
Also representing Ireland and taking home a credible joint 5th were Roisin Roantree and Volleyball Ireland Board Member Regina Halpin. Playing as a pair for the first time, the diminutive duo impressed with wins over NI’s Montgomery and Scott (21-9, 21-12) in the Pools before beating team mates Emily Frazell and Orla Lynch (21-7, 21-11) in the Round of 12. Their tournament ended with defeat to eventual winners Elisabeth Einasdottir and Berglind Jonsdottir (21-2, 21-5).
The competition was a debut on the sand for Emily Frazell, who joined the Irish setup in May as part of the SCA Indoor team that visited Luxembourg. Lynch was also donning the Green Vest for first time, and the debutants return home with their first Intl scalp after a victory over Rankin/Blair of Scotland (21-11, 21-13).
The Beach season now wraps up with the attentions off the court as the Association looks to gain Sports Capital Grant funding to develop the first Inland court in Ireland, whilst supporting the implementation of permanent posts on beaches across the country.
Team Ireland Results;