Posted on April 22, 2016 at 14:30 PM
Overall the inaugural World Dodgeball Championships proved to be a successful one for our teams. The men's, women's and mixed teams all competed in the invitational, which although wasn't the main event still contained some of the top nations from across the globe!
The mixed team had a tough group, facing the two time European champions England as well as Singapore, Austria and the dark horses of the competition Malaysia. After a slow start against Singapore the team rallied and took some impressive games off both England and Malaysia (finished 1st and 2nd respectively) but both nations proved to be just too strong for them. The final group game came against Austria, and thanks to some fantastic team play the mixed team managed to beat the Austrians, leaving them in 5th place overall, 5th best mixed team in the world isn't bad is it?
The women had just as tough a group, having to face off against Malaysia, Scotland, Singapore and Hong Kong. Their opening game was against Malaysia and in the first half they struggled to get to grips with the style of play of their Asian counterparts trailing 5-1, but after a rallying half time team talk the girls came out of the blocks in the second half and were seconds away from winning the match, only to be denied by a last second hit by the Malaysian women to end the match in a draw. From there the women stepped up a gear and swept aside Singapore and Hong Kong before facing Scotland in the final group game. The Scots tactics were unique to what the girls had faced before and it helped them take a first half lead, the ROI women fought back in the second half but didn't have enough time to rescue the match. But even still they became the first ROI women's team to make a semi finals!
In the semi final they once again faced Scotland, the first half was a great match, with both teams heading into half time level, after the break the Scots rallied and edged the ROI women to make the final, leaving the ladies to finish in 3rd place, 11th best team in the world overall
The men entered the competition where they would have to face Austria, Hong Kong and Singapore. Originally Pakistan and Iran were meant to be taking part too but VISA problems meant they had to pull out last minute. The weekend didn't get off to a great start for the men's team, with Colum Walsh sustaining a thumb injury on his throwing hand at the Friday training session, his game time at the weekend would be limited because of this.
Then in our first match of the weekend against Austria our captain Stephen Fletcher twisted his knee in only the second set, he would unfortunately no longer feature for the rest of the weekend. This injury rattled the boys and Austria took advantage going into the break with a healthy lead, after the break however the boys came out fighting, but the deficit was too large for them to overcome in the second half.
They went into their next 2 matches against Singapore and Hong Kong with confidence, taking the momentum they gained in that second half against Austria and using it to power their way past both opponents and finishing second in the group, setting up a semi-final against Hong Kong. The lads entered the tie focussed on getting ROI to their first ever final, a good solid first half saw them take the lead going into the break at 5-1, in the second half they managed to increase that up to 7-1 before a monster rally from the Hong Kong team saw them force their way back into the game, luckily the lads seen the game out with the final score finishing 9-6. The final was to be against Austria.
The Austrians started strong and just edged the first 2 sets, then in the third set Rob Kearns rolled his ankle making a dodge, he would not be able to contribute any more to the final. This loss only seemed to spur the lads on as they fought back to end the half 3-3. The second half was a tense affair, with the Austrians taking a one point lead several times, only for the lads in green to then level the score each time. Entering the final 90 seconds of the final, the score stood at 6-5 to the Austrian team, the team threw everything they had at their opponents, but as the final buzzer sounded the Austrians had one more player on court, finishing the match 7-5. Although it wasn't the gold medal the lads had hoped it would be, the guys could be nothing but proud of way they played in the final, it was one of the best matches I've ever seen!