On the War Path in Hereford

On the War Path in Hereford

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A team from Warrior Tae Kwon Do recently travelled to Hereford in England to compete in the N.I.T.A. British Midlands Open Championships. The competition, which was held on Sunday March 7th, attracted teams from Ireland, Scotland and Wales and of course England.
There were 9 members on the Warrior team picked from the hundreds of students that train every week in our clubs. Some had competed abroad before whereas for more it was their first competition outside of Ireland.

The team had an early start flying Cork to Birmingham on Saturday morning and then on to Hereford by coach. Once settled in their hotel they had an opportunity to explore Herefords historic town centre. Then with the big competition day looming it was an early night for all.
After breakfast at the hotel the team travelled by taxi to the venue The Point 4 Leisure Centre which is part of the Royal College for the Blind and will host the next blind Olympics. The centre is only 2 years old and facilities were outstanding.

The competition started at 10am after height and weight checks were carried out on all competitors. The patterns sections were on first. The Warrior students got off to a great start with Mark Tanner of Dunmanway taking bronze in a huge senior colour belt section. Then later Mark went on and won the point sparring section taking gold with a smile on his face that lit up the stadium. Unfortunately Mark being a green belt could not compete in continuous sparring as this was reserved for grades blue belt and above to the relief of the higher grades he had already beaten in points.

Next up for the team current Tae Kwon Do International World sparring champion 15 year old Aishling O’ Driscoll secured gold in the mixed male and female Black Belt pattern section, proving she is an all round martial artist. Aishling from Ballineen and training in Clonakilty did not stop there and went on to take gold in points sparring and another gold in continuous sparring showing what it takes to be a World Champion.

As the pattern sections continued Claire Wilcox of Clonakilty and team mate Aoife Sheehan tied for 2nd place on the same points and had to be run off against each other to separate them in the senior Black Belt ladies section. Claire secured the silver by just one point and Aoife had to settle for third. Aoife is also the current TKD International World sparring champion at senior level and Claire is World silver medallist so they were looking forward to getting their gloves on and getting in the ring.

They did not have to wait long and in the point’s section Claire fought hard to secure bronze and then doubled up on that performance by earning another bronze in continuous. This brought her total to 1 silver and 2 bronze medals.
Next up was Aoife Sheehan again and reaching the final in both sections she was just unlucky on the day and should be delighted with her performance adding 2 more silver medals to her earlier bronze.

In the senior Black Belt men’s sparring Dwayne Crowley of Crossbarry who trains with Clonakilty club was fighting for the men’s heavyweight title. This is always a hotly contested event and Dwayne a holder of many junior titles was a relative newcomer to senior sparring. This did not faze him and he fought like an old pro to secure 3rd in the continuous section. Having only recently moved to senior level it looks like he is equal to the challenge.

The youngest member of the squad 12 year old Jonathan Hurley of Innishannon and Ballinhassig put in a great performance on his debut with the team. He was unlucky in the points sparring section and decided to have a go at continuous though it was a new experience for him. He took to it straight away and settled into the fights making it to the semi-final before being beaten. He then had to fight off for third place and won it easily securing another bronze for the team.

Sarah Murphy from Ballineen was next into the ring and fought her way to the semi-final of the junior Black Belt continuous sparring. Sarah fought well and looked to have won the fight but the referees saw it differently and she had to settle for 4th. This was an outstanding performance as this is Sarah s first time on the squad and bodes well for her future.

Ballineen classmate Jamie Lawton was in the ring next and with some very intelligent sparring gained bronze in both sections using his legs to pick off his opponents with ease. Losing out only to the eventual winner both times.

Skibbereen and Drinagh Black Belt Erik Hilmer was unlucky meeting the English champion in the first round and actually led the fight at the start but the experience of his opponent meant that it was not to be Erik s day. Erik should not be too disheartened by this his first time travelling with the team as his opponent barely won by the narrowest of margins.

After an exhausting but very rewarding day the team medal tally was 4 gold, 5 silver and 6 bronze. The team returned to their hotel to rest and recuperate then went out for a meal together.

Dan O’ Mahony chief instructor with Warrior Tae Kwon Do was delighted with his team not only for their performance at the competition but their attitude in general and said that every one of them was a pleasure to travel with. He also remarked that the points system of 2 points for a mid section kick and 3 for a high section kick encouraged fighters to use their legs more and showed the real skill necessary to be a Tae Kwon Do fighter not a boxer.

Four members will also be travelling to Lisbon at the end of March to the ICKKF All Styles World Championships, Dwayne Crowley, Aoife Sheehan, Mark Tanner and instructor Barry O’ Mahony, who will also be competing. We wish them the best of luck in their efforts.

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