Kickboxers in stunning form
Six silver and six bronze medals won by Wexford crew
Five members of the Wexford Kung Fu and Kickboxing Centre were in stunning form at the W.K.K.C. world kickboxing championships held in City West last week, returning with a medal haul of six silver and six bronze from one of the world's most prestigious martial arts events.
Held in the City West arena in Dublin over six days, in excess of 1,800 competitors from as young as eight years of age up to veterans competed in points and continuous sparring as well as open hand and weapons forms competition.
It was felt by most observers that the Wexford club should have, in fact, been returning with three gold medals as the boys Under-12 team event final which featured three of the Wexford contingent was an extremely close affair which many said the Irish team should have won.
Regardless of this, it was still a fantastic performance at the highest level of martial arts competition from a young team.
Michelle Casserly competed in three events, taking a medal in each. A former champion in the ladies' continuous -55 kg. sparring, she was one of the favourites in this section again this year.
Michelle was in flying form in the early rounds, making it comfortably through to the final. After taking a few heavy knocks in the opening round, Michelle struggled to regain her momentum and had to settle for silver for the second time in her Senior career.
In the points sparring section she was beaten in a close fight in the semi-finals to take a bronze medal.
Michelle dusted herself off and got back on the mats to take a well-deserved silver in the Chinese open hands form section, so overall it was an impressive two silver and one bronze for this formidable competitor.
Adam Tierney had a fantastic tournament, bringing home no fewer than three medals from three events. In a tough section, Adam fought his way through to the boys' Under-12 continuous sparring section final in impressive style.
A silver medal winner from last year, he had his sights on gold. In a bruiser of a fight, Adam fought his heart out before sustaining a narrow defeat and had to settle for silver.
Adam was also in impressive form in the points sparring section. His defeat in the semi-final was a very close affair, and many felt that Adam could have won.
Adam's second silver of the championships came from the boys' Under-12 team event. After defeating U.S.A. and England in the eliminating rounds, Ireland's hopes of gold were high.
Adam led the charge in the final to win his fight, but in a controversial decision the Irish team lost out to their Canadian opponents by two wins to one. Overall it was a great medal tally of two silver and a bronze for a young man in only his second international competition.
Cathal Moran is already an experienced competitor despite his young age. He fought in a highly-competitive division of the heavyweight boys' Under-12 and had top-class competitive bouts to make it to the semi-finals for his third consecutive year. In a close fight, he narrowly missed out on progressing to the finals.
In his Chinese forms section, Cathal showed great focus and skill to take bronze despite a leg injury that prevented him from performing some of his originally intended sequences.
Cathal was on fire in the boys' team event and was first on the mat for the elimination rounds, securing victory for his team in both.
The final of the team event went against the three Wexford boys despite the heroic efforts of Cathal and his clubmates. At the end of the week Cathal went home with a tremendous silver and two bronze.
Nathan Casserly started the week in the open hand Chinese forms, just missing out on a place in the final by a half point.
Despite this disappointment, Nathan fought brilliantly in the boys' Under-12 lightweight points section, progressing as far as the semi-finals to take a bronze medal.
The boys' team event was an historic occasion for the club as Ireland's Under-12 team was made up of three its members for the first time ever.
In the semi-finals, Nathan had to dig deep to secure a win against his opponent from the U.S.A. to secure his team's victory.
In the final, Nathan had the beating of this Canadian opponent but, with two bizarre refereeing decisions, had to settle for silver under controversial circumstances. Notwithstanding the disappointment of the team final, Nathan brought home an impressive silver and bronze medal.
Eoghan Dempsey made a very successful debut to international competition, taking a well-deserved bronze medal in the Chinese forms division Under-15.
Competing in the points sparring, he finished just short of a podium place this time but was widely praised for his fighting spirit and determination. Without doubt the best is yet to come from this dedicated young athlete who brought home bronze on his international debut.
Chief instructor Bobby O'Neill, was 'over the moon' with the results. 'This is a young squad and there is huge potential to build even further on this year's success,' he said.
The former W.A.K.O. world champion said that 'the success of the club is built on many years of hard work by many people. The parents of the young club members have a huge part to play in the success of the club, and without their commitment this level of success would not be attainable'.
Bobby also particularly thanked Patrick Monahan, Mark Rowe and Michelle Casserly for all their help over the years coaching the team, and the fundraising committee for their fantastic effort all year.
Next year's championships are being held at Niagara Falls on the U.S.-Canadian border, and there is already great excitement among the Irish team to compete in such a great location. However, first on the agenda is team qualifications that will begin again in the new year.
The club trains in Image Health Studios, Westpoint Business Park, Wexford, and new members of all ages are always welcome.