W.A.M.A.: A total of 13 very talented kickboxers from the Wexford Academy of Martial Arts travelled to the Unified World Championships which were held in Benidorm, Spain.
However, 13 medals did not return home to Ireland…oh, no! The fighters from the Wexford Academy brought home a whopping 21 medals which is a phenomenal achievement from a local club.
As mentioned, this was a unified championships, which saw a large variety of world kickboxing organisations coming together for one massive tournament, making it one of the largest martial arts gatherings in the world.
The enormity and prestige of the competition obviously failed to faze the Wexford athletes as every fighter brought at least one medal, if not two, home to Irish soil.
Day one saw Team Ireland take part in the competition's opening ceremony where the Irish athletes marched with a monstrous 40 other countries. Team Ireland managed to stand out from the crowd, however, as the sea of green marched and sang through the Olympic Stadium in Benidorm.
Shortly after the morning's ceremonies, it was time for the youngest members from Team Ireland to take part in the tournament's light-contact competition. Light-contact kickboxing requires speed, skill and precision - all of which the youngsters possessed and eagerly showed during the competition.
After a long and eventful day, the young fighters from Team Ireland had already secured a mammoth eight medals. James O'Keeffe earned a bronze medal, with two silvers for Josh Carley, a bronze for Dylan Mooney, a gold and a silver for Meghan Donnelly, and a gold and a bronze for Lee Dempsey.
These fighters are all from the Wexford Academy and are seasoned competitors. They showed considerable composure and skill which led them to glory.
The teenagers of the team stormed the competition on day two and, after another long day, they had added another seven medals to the ever-growing pot of silverware. Each of the fighters fought off fierce competition to make their way to the medal stages.
Their perseverance and great determination saw them work their way to the top. Courtney Smith secured a bronze, Kelsea Sutton a gold, Craig Browne a gold, Jack Browne a gold and a bronze, and Grace Banville a gold and a silver (Grace also took part in the full contact competition).
By day three of the competition, many of the fighters from all different countries were coming to watch the fighters from Team Ireland, and it was evident that the 'Fightin Irish' had become a force to be reckoned with.
The team's adult fighters were now out for glory. Jim Fogarty, the Wexford Academy's seasoned veteran, took part in the light contact competition, while Marc Keane and Alice Power fought in both the light and full contact disciplines.
All three fighters took on the best in the world and all three came out with two medals apiece: Jim Fogarty won two bronze medals, Marc Keane a gold and a silver, and Alice Power captured two golds.
The whole stadium heard 'Amhrán na bhFiann' many times on finals day as the fighters were presented with their medals. Wexfordman Billy Murphy, who was responsible for this wonderful achievement, was leader and chief of the Irish team, and he couldn't believe the team's and club's successes.
'These guys might technically be amateur athletes, but their performances were world class,' he said. 'Their training with us at the Wexford Academy is year round. Every fight for them is as serious as the last, whether it's a fight night somewhere around the country of the world championships.
'We went to take on the world and we won! They're all wonderful fighters and even better people to deal with.'
Billy thanked his daughter, Elaine Murphy, who travelled as head coach and did a wonderful job with all of the fighters. He also thanked all of the officials, assistant coaches and followers for their hard work and support.
The fighters from the Wexford Academy are already back in training and preparing for their next bouts. Congratulations to all involved.
The Wexford Academy of Martial Arts train in two premises: Barntown Community Centre on Mondays and Thursdays from 6 to 6.50 p.m. (children), and 7 to 8.30 p.m. (adults), and John Street on Tuesdays from 6.30 to 8 p.m. New members are always welcome.
Well done everyone who raced in New Ross on the second day of the winter league. It was a perfect day for cross-country on a good, dry course, crisp and cold.
Millie Stone was our first athlete to race, competing in the Under-8 and finishing an excellent ninth place. Lucia Goggins continued her good form from day one, taking third in the Under-9.
Cliona Kearney had a good battle with her training partner, Niamh Murphy, in the Under-10 with Cliona taking up the lead about 150m from the finish, but Niamh had the stronger finish and took first spot with Cliona second. Angeleena Juddimon finished in eleventh place with Hollie Byrne just behind her in 13th.
Sinéad O'Reilly improved on her fourth place form of the previous week to win the Under-11 race, backed up by Cara Corkery in tenth.
Emer Halpin ran strongly in the Under-12, getting herself up to second position but unfortunately losing out in a sprint finish and finishing third. Emma O'Leary finished a good sixth place with Anoushka Nolan in eighth and Ava Kearney ninth, scoring important points for the club.
Danika Gilshinan continued her winning form to win the Under-13 with Ciara Dolan placing well in eighth and Emma Nolan twelfth.
Róisín O'Reilly also repeated her win in the Under-14, with excellent running from sprinters Susie Brennan in fifth and April Keeling (ninth).
In the boys' races, Ronan Corkery had a good run to finish fifth in the Under-8 closely followed by Harry Purcell (seventh), Conor Corbett (eighth), Conor Byrne (ninth) and Rory Mulvany (tenth).
Liam Donohue ran a solid race to finish fourth in the Under-9 with Eoin Dwyer in eighth, Callum Doran tenth, Cillian Byrne eleventh and Ryan Kirwan twelfth. Lee Carthy ran well in the Under-10, finishing eighth.
James Whelan was sixth in the Under-11 boys with Finn Dieter Cullen tenth and Seán Kirwan 15th. Nathan Murphy took third in the Under-13 boys.
Adam Leahy finished a good seventh place in the Under-14 boys, another good run from this improving athlete.
Well done to everyone who ran, parents for bringing the children, and everyone who helped on the day.
Day three is on Sunday, November 29, hosted by S.B.R. and will be on the track in Enniscorthy, with the first race at 2 p.m. We look forward to seeing everyone there again for another enjoyable afternoon of racing.
Wexford Kettlebell Club is gearing up towards its biggest event of the year. Thirteen members of the club are part of the 76-strong Irish squad for the world championships which are being held in D.C.U. this week for four days, starting Thursday, November 26, and running until Sunday.
All 561 athletes will be arriving in Dublin over the next few days with some already after flying in from America and Australia. This is the most historic kettlebell competition in terms of numbers, and 561 people at our virtually unknown sporting event is unprecedented!
We look forward to lifting with men, women and Juniors from all over the globe, as far away as South Korea and India, as well as our neighbours from England and Scotland. It's also the first time we will have W.A.D.A. drug testing technicians at our disposal, and this is just another step we are taking to have our sport recognised by the Irish Sports Council.
Our team members are Jennie Carthy, Kathleen Cleary, Clara O'Connor, Sarah Clifford, Alison Murphy, Yolanda Gilbert, Fiona Kelly, Collette Butler, Selina Morrin, Marie Laffan-Cullen, Keith Dwyer, Paul Hillis and Mick Kelly.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for wishing us the best of luck and sending us wishes of support. Our telephones, Facebook and other social media have been hopping mad for the last few days!
Also a quick word of thanks has to go to our coach, Mick Kelly, who has formulated our many training programmes, listened to our issues, has fixed any problems we may have had with training, our techniques and timing or lack of it sometimes etc...we are very thankful for all the work he puts in and hope to make him proud this weekend.
There is a supporters' bus travelling up this Saturday, organised for the Juniors, and some of the Mammys will supervise. If you are looking for transport, please contact Collette at 086-3927655 and I will find out if we have space still available.
Wexford Kettlebell Club and gym will be opened as usual on Monday and Tuesday, and will then be closed from Wednesday for the rest of the week. The club will be back to normal next Monday, November 30, where training will resume for the Cork five-minute competition which is happening on Saturday, December 5.
Registration for the event is now closed and money can be paid for your lifts over that six-day period.
Wexford Wanderers Senior men's XV travelled to Balrothery in north county Dublin to face old rivals Balbriggan on Sunday in Leinster League Division 2B.
The opponents, who battled it out on three occasions last season for the Division 3 title, are very familiar with each other's style of play. Last season after an initial loss at the same ground, Wanderers managed to regain the initiative with a narrow one-point win at home before recording another memorable one-point victory at Balbriggan last February to dash their title hopes and seal the Division 3 title for Wexford.
The game last Sunday started poorly for Wanderers, with Balbriggan dominating the opening half and running up 17 points without reply. This came from a combination of forced errors and bad luck, with the home side scoring two converted tries and a penalty. Wexford's account was opened by out-half Paul Gannon with a penalty.
After this initial hammer blow of a half, Wanderers settled effectively into the second period and Gannon scored a try which was duly converted. Wanderers continued to push for scores and on more than a few occasions managed to cross the whitewash, only for the scores to be denied as the referee was unable to see the grounding.
However, Wanderers captain Seán O Corcora had the last blast, scoring a converted breakaway try on the full-time whistle. The final score was 24-17 after another tight contest between these sides.
Worryingly for Wanderers however is the injury list, with influential backs Colm O Corcora and Tom Barry both having to leave the field after receiving leg injuries while forwards Willie Morris (neck) and Luke Roche (suspected concussion) are also added to the casualties.
Next weekend sees Athy visiting Park Lane for the second time this season on Sunday at 2.30 p.m. The last time the sides met in the pool stage of the competition, Wexford managed a narrow three-point win which was vital in securing progression to the current Division 2B play-offs.
As it stands after two rounds played, Athy are sitting on the top of the table. The game promises to be a thriller and should be one to watch to see if Wanderers will knock Athy off their current perch.
In other news, Wanderers men's second XV are in action at Park Lane on Saturday at 2.30 p.m. when they face Clontarf in the latest instalment of their Metro League Ten odyssey. The side, which aims to provide a stepping stone to first team rugby for up and coming players, also caters for players looking for the pleasures of social rugby and is always looking for new players.
If you are interested in playing rugby, why not come out to training on Wednesday and Friday nights as there is always a welcome and a place waiting for you in a game at the weekend?
Wanderers' annual coaches' and volunteers' Christmas party has been re-scheduled for Saturday, December 12 (note change of date) in the clubhouse.
For the details of what is happening in the club, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
Team: John Rowe, Kevin Birney, James Byrne, John Turner, Mossie Earle, Tom Brennan, Luke Roche, Darragh Keogh, Michael Bolger, Paul Gannon, Robert Kenny, Colm O Corcora, Seán O Corcora (capt.), Noel Richards, Liam Barry. Subs. - Richie Morris, Tom Barry, Willie Morris, Nick Jones, Pádraig Cousins.