Friday the 1st February saw the start of teams arriving for the upcoming indoor championships to be hosted and sponsored by Belfast city Council at the Ozone Indoor Tennis arena at Ormeau Park, Belfast.  The scales had been delivered and calibrated on site and from early afternoon there was a steady stream of teams coming to the scales for weighing in.  Teams from Scotland and England had travelled during the morning period and our near neighbours from Southern Ireland joined in with the local teams for the statutory weigh in.  Some teams from Donegal made the two hour round trip and travelled back home again after the weigh in.

With the draw made, teams’ checked the draw and made their way to bed for a well earned rest. Early on Saturday morning, after a hearty breakfast all of the teams made their way to the Ozone Centre.  Three mats had been placed and the ropes marked.  Banners and posters from our sponsors Belfast City Council were on display around the arena. Final preparations were put in place with an electronic scoreboard, music and loudspeakers and during a phonetic 30 minutes, the teams that had weighed on Friday evening for the 600 and 680 events were checked and stamped.  Those entered for the 560 and 640 competition were also taken aside and stamped where possible. 

First up on the mats at 600kgs came the teams from England (2), Scotland and Northern Ireland (2)

Northern Ireland A were drawn against England B in the first end with Northern Ireland managing to beat England B in two straight ends.  Next up was Scotland AND Northern Ireland B which was to prove as one of the longest pulls in this weight category with the Northern Ireland B team taking the end in 5.27 minutes.  The teams turned around but this time the tables were also turned with Scotland winning in 1.48minutes.  In the next end the England A and Northern Ireland A were on the mats.  Again this proved to be a mighty pull with the two ends going to England A in times of 3.26 and 1.19minutes.

As the competition progressed to the final four in the group, cautions for some teams were mounting and the teams from England A, Northern Ireland A, Scotland and Northern Ireland B took up the top four positions respectfully.

One pulls four and two pulls three so England A and Northern Ireland B were in the first semi final with Scotland and Northern Ireland A in the second.  Two mats were in use and all four teams were taken to the mats at the same time with England A defeating Northern Ireland B in short shrift whilst Northern Ireland A took the honours against a determined team from Scotland.

Bronze pull off between Scotland and Northern Ireland B was first up with Scotland taking the bronze medal in 1.51 and 1.43minutes.  On to the final which saw England A and Northern Ireland A vying for the top honours.  Again a mighty effort from both teams but the skill and strength of England A proved to be too much with them taking the Gold medal in times of 2.16 and 1.15 minutes.  First medal of the day decided with Northern Ireland A coming out with aThe Silver medal.

No rest for the wicked it was a step-up in weight to the 680kg class with teams from England (2), Scotland and Northern Ireland (2) to once again contest the weight category.  Four of the five teams came up close on the weight limit with the Northern Ireland B team giving away a 52 kg advantage. 

First up on the mats were the teams from England A and Northern Ireland A which proved to be the longest pulls of the weight category.  First blood again to Northern Ireland A by two straight ends, a good start.  As the event progressed at pace, the top four teams after the round robin were once again the teams from England A, England B, Scotland and Northern Ireland A.

England A and B met in the first semi final whilst the second semi was populated by Scotland and Northern Ireland A.  In the first of the two semis the England B team progressed to the final by defeating England A in under 30 seconds in each pull.  The other semi was a different affair with two fairly well matched teams from Scotland and Northern Ireland.  No quarter given or asked for, each team stuck well to their job but the prowess and form of the Northern Ireland team once again saw them progress to the final against England B.

Bronze pull off was first with England A against Scotland with Scotland being beaten in times of 1.53 and 1.31minutes.  England A get the bronze.

England B and Northern Ireland up next in the final, with England B winning in times of .53 and .54 to take the gold and consign Northern Ireland A to the silver medal once again.  A fantastic weight category, which was well fought for by all of the teams and another success for Northern Ireland teams.

At this point, time was pressing and with the teams from Southern Ireland joining the fray, two more competitions beckoned.  560 and 640kgs events.

560 came first and once again the club teams proved their metal with great performances in every pull.  This was a straight run through this time with teams only participating in a round robin.  Teams from Mountain View, Kilroe, Carndonagh, Rockies, Country Club and Ballyhegan took to the mats with a variation of times for the pulling.  Everyone was right up on the weight.

The two local teams were expected to perform well and this was to be proven as the competition went on.  Equal weights, points, cautions etc to the very end brought both into equal first position.  There was nothing to split the teams which had to be decided by the toss of a coin which Ballyhegan won. 

Gold and silver medals for the two Northern Ireland teams.  Northern Ireland are the current 560 World Open and Closed Champions.  Well done to both for the great effort they put in during the past months.  Especially to the youngsters involved in both teams who are the future of the sport.

Last of the day and again being pressed for time it was the turn of the teams at 640kgs.  More teams were added this time and the early decision was for the event to be run on a round robin with those in first and second pulling for Gold and Silver whilst third and fourth would pull for Bronze.

28 ends to get to that stage seemed to be far off but with steady progress and few cautions, the teams got on with the job in hand.  The longest pulls of this event was between Rockies and Raunds at 2.37 and 1.49 minutes with the team from Raunds taking the result.

After the rounds, Sheen Farmers from England were in first place with Mountain View from Ireland in second. They were closely followed by Clonmany B from Ireland in third place and Tinto from Scotland in fourth. Cautions during this event had been few and far between and it was cautions that divided Clonmany B and Tinto in third and fouth places.

Back to the mats for these two teams and after 1.08 and .58, Clonmay B took the bronze medal against a very good team from Tinto.

In the final, the England Champions, Sheen Farmers took on Mountain View from Ireland.  Nothing was given by either side with each taking a bit and having to give a bit but with Sheen winning by two straight ends in 1.51 and 1.08 minutes respectfully.

Clear up had already begun by a band of people from the local Northern Ireland teams and a big thank you to Garvagh, Bancran, Leos Boys and the competing teams for their efforts and hard work in setting and clearing the facility in a very short period of time.  Particular mention to the judges Norman Cook, Ernie Jones, Jim Burns and the Chief Judge for the day, Hugh McFetridge and Recorders Wendy Dyer and Rosemary Smith,who we cannot do without.  To William Montgomery in relation to the scales, Patrick Kernan for his music and announcements throughout the day once again thank you. Special mention for Pete Dyer who quietly kept the event running at a nice pace by marshalling the teams as and when required.

Sam Rountree junior did a great job in the hall keeping the electronic scoreboard populated during the day and also taking photographs.  These were to prove a good feature when he then transferred them into a slide show and played this during the presentation dinner at the Ramada Hotel.

Dame Mary Peters joined us for the evening and made presentations to teams before enlightening us with some stories.  There was a clamber afterwards for photographs and once again her presence is greatly received and will be remembered by many of the young and not so young pullers.

For the facilities at the Ozone and the staff there, a very big thank you.  Anything asked for was made available where possible.  The main sponsors of the event Belfast City Council have been invaluable in their guidance and help, especially from Kevin Grant and Ciara Heaney. We look forward to continuing that close contact in the future.

Well done to the local teams for the perseverance during the winter months, their commitment and obvious hard work which proved so effective over the weekend.  Gold and silver at 560, silver at 600 and silver at 680.  Not a bad weekend. 

600kgs event

Gold Medal  -  England A

Silver Medal  -  Northern Ireland A

Bronze medal -  Scotland

680kgs event

Gold Medal  -  England B

Silver Medal  -  Northern Ireland A

Bronze medal -  England A

560kgs event

Gold Medal  -  Ballyhegan

Silver Medal  -  Country Club

Bronze medal -  Kilroe

640kgs event

Gold Medal  -  Sheen Farmers

Silver Medal  -  Mountain View

Bronze medal -  Clonmany B


Written by:  - 3 Feb, 2013  
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