Ulster sent a very strong team to the 2013 UK School Games in Sheffield last week and by general consent among players and Management. gained much experienced that will stand them in good stead in the future.
The UK School Games made a welcome return after a successful 2012 event in the Olympics Stadium in London last year. A 10 player strong team made the trip to Sheffield at the weekend.
Representing the boys were -Ryan Getty, Ryan MacBeth, Norman Lau, Matthew Lightbody, Curtis Presho, Ross Lightbody and the girls had – Kerri Scott, Caitlin Steele, Rachael Darragh and Rebecca Getty.
Friday saw the team events in which the Ulster contingent faced strong outfits from Scotland, England and Wales. The morning games saw Ulster fall to a 4-0 deficit to Wales before the mixed pairing of Ryan Getty and Rachel Darragh saved the Ulster team from being whitewashed winning in straight sets 16-21 13-21.
The afternoon games saw the Ulster side come up against the host team of England. Things began much more promising with Norman Lau pushing hard only to lose out in 3 sets. The other single’s representative Rachel Darragh also lost out narrowly after a thrilling open set which went to England’s Kirby Ngan on a score line 28-26 21-17.
The last pairing saw victory for the Ulster side with Getty and Darragh proving to a formidable team winning 16-21 20-22. This then left the Ulster team to face a very strong Scotland side.
The side battled hard and pushed their Scottish counterparts all the way. None more so than Darragh who was again involved in another thriller only this time she came out on the right side of the result claiming the victory 21-14 16-21 24-26.
The brothers Lightbody also tried hard as they came up against an exceptionally strong pairing in that of eventual double’s winners Hall and Dunne.
Saturday saw the individual games kick into gear and the Ulster team alongside it. 3 out of the first 4 games in which Ulster players competed resulted in victories with Lau, Lightbody and Darragh all proving successful. This good run of form unfortunately halted as the day drew on with Presho, Steele and Macbeth all fighting bravely but ultimately losing out.
However the evening games saw the return of Ulster’s good fortune as Lau and Darragh notched two more victories which were complemented by a win from Rebecca Getty this set things up nicely for the final day of competition.
First up was the Men’s Single’s Semi-Finals. This was a tough category which saw 4. Norman Lau come up against the eventual winner Adam Hall and lose out on a score line of 6-21 12-21. Ulster were the dominate force in the women’s side of the draw with both Getty and Darragh making the Semi’s.
However the dreams of an all Ulster final were halted with both girls losing out but not before Darragh brought her game to a final set eventually bowing out 17-21 21-12 15-21.
This signalled the end of Ulster’s involvement in what was an extremely competitive game’s. It is hoped that players and coaches gained a lot from the experience and will move on to bigger and better things in the future.