Team B Yellow and Team C Blue qualify for the final of the Acme Blinds division two team event
In the end it was the two sides that finished first and second in the group stages that qualified for the final of the Acme Blinds division two team event, but for a while in one of this weeks semi finals, that outcome looked anything but certain. Team B Yellow had opened in devastating fashion in their match against Team A Black, with Jodie Keeling and Sean Fitzharris totally dominating matters against Shane Cleary and Barry Byrne. The youngsters took the first game 15-1 and then built up a massive 12-0 lead in the second, but this was not a done deal, at least not yet! With their teammates willing them on and with the semi final in danger of being decided before the second pairings even took the court, Cleary and Byrne fought back in magnificant fashion. Point by point they reduced the deficit to level the scores at 12-12, before going on to lead 14-12 and stand just one ace away from levelling the tie at one game apiece. A huge rally ensued at that point but Cleary and Byrne were unable to win it, and when Keeling and Fitzharris regained the serve to give themselves a second chance, they were not to be found wanting. Two brilliant serves from Keeling left them level at 14-14 and when the hand was lost at that point Fitzharris stepped up to the mark to clinch the win.
2-0 down in games and 30-15 behind on points, James Mythen and Nicky Casey of Team A Black faced a mammoth task against Michael Rossiter and Miley Byrne, but they set about the job in earnest by winning the first game 15-7. That left them needing to win the second by the same score to complete a memorable comeback and when they moved into a 6-0 lead that outcome seemed very much on the cards. But then Rossiter and Byrne regrouped and with a defiant rearguard action they stemmed the flow of scores and regained the initaitive just in time. They knew they required a minimum of nine points to secure the victory and the closer they got to that target, the more the pressure mounted on Mythen and Casey. In the end it was Rossiter and Byrne who finished the stronger as they ran out winners on a scoreline of 15-8.
The second semi final saw table toppers Team C Blue, comprising Tony Breen, Ray Wickham, William Murphy and Jamie Moran face off against Team E Grey, represented by Tom Byrne, Eugene English, Gavin Lacey and PJ Martin. This had been a very close affair when they met earlier in a group match, but, just as they did back then, Murphy and Moran got Team C off to a flyer by winning the opening doubles 15-7, 15-8. This young pairing have led from the front in all of the their matches, with Murphy always producing a performance and Moran, at 14 years of age the youngest in the competition, never buckling under pressure. This 2-0 in games and 30-15 in points lead gave Breen and Wickham a cushion going in against Byrne and English and they quickly secured their place in the final by winning the first game 15-1. The second was a bit of a dead rubber, but with Byrne and English finding some form it was close all the way before Breen and a very prominent Wickham got home 15-14.
It promises to be a very interesting final.