The 2016 Nationals took place this weekend at Loreto Abbey, Dalkey. Many thanks to John Jones (directeur technique), our refereeing team, Sheena Lynch (physiotherapist) and all volunteers to gave up their time to set up and ensure the weekend ran smoothly.
Full standings are now available on the Results page.
A field of 32 in Men’s Epee included some fresh faces, newly eligible to compete in the National Championships. Three fencers were undefeated after the first round: reigning champion Philip Slater (Lisburn Gladiators), 5 Nations captain Scott O’Malley (Salle Dublin), and former Israeli international Ido Ajzenstadt (Pembroke FC / Hapoel Ashkelon).
Ajzenstadt knocked out Jack Lawler (UCD) and Duncan Salter (Pembroke), to fence a fast-paced quarter-final against Geoffrey Corcoran (QUB). Ajzenstadt progressed 15-10. In the semi-final, Ajzenstadt defeated 2014 champion Benedict Chambers (FFF) 15-9, denying the Swedish-based fencer a place in his third consecutive national final.
Junior fencer Philip Slater got off to a strong start, knocking out clubmate Alastair McIlwee, Dawid Kulka (Pembroke FC / IT Tallaght), and Yves Carnec (Pembroke FC) to set up a re-match of his 2015 semi-final against Scott O’Malley. O’Malley, having knocked out Rowan McLachlan (UCD), Paul McCarron (QUB), and Jamie Simpson (Imperial College) en route to the semis, trailed throughout the first period, but levelled the scores at 13 with a timely foot-hit. A second single light brought them into the break 14-13. Two minutes into a cagey second period, Slater’s hopes of a title defence were dashed by a double hit.
Both contesting their first national final, Ajzenstadt and O’Malley got off to a cautious start. However, across 15 points Ajzenstadt’s experience began to tell and O’Malley was struggled to find a flaw in his defence. Ajzenstadt became Irish National Champion for the first time 15-8.
Irish #1 Charlotte Slater (Lisburn Gladiators) drew reigning Irish Open champion Rachel Conner (Laszlo’s) in the L16 and triumphed 15-10. Charlotte staged a stunning comeback against top seed and former champion Olga Velma to progress 15-14. In the semi-final Charlotte knocked out Alisha Mullen (UCD / Pentathlon Ireland) 15-9.
On the other side of the draw, second seed Virginie Gautier (Pembroke FC) went out in the quarter-final to Sive Brassil (Pentathlon Ireland). Sive won her semi-final over Lucy Johnson (DUFC) 15-9 to reach her first Nationals final.
Sive kept her cadet opponent at bay in the opening phases and initially established a commanding lead. Victory seemed assured for the pentathlete at 13-8, but Charlotte Slater made her second daring comeback of the day, taking the match 15-14. At 15, Charlotte equals the record for youngest National Champion in Women’s Épée.
In Men’s Foil, top seed Philip Cripwell (DUFC) defeated cadet #1 Paul Verdon (Grosvenor FC) 15-7 in the quarter final. After both the 4th and 5th seeds were subjected to 15-14 upsets in the L8, it was Andrew Whyte (UCD) who faced the Junior champion in the semi-final, but he was unable to halt Cripwell’s winning streak.
Upsets also abounded on the other side of the draw, primarily at the hands of Rory Hayes (UCC). After a V4D3 profile placed him 10th after the pool, he went on to overturn 7th seed Yves Carnec (Pembroke FC), number 2 seed Michael Thompson (RBAI / Lisburn Gladiators) and 6th seed Philip Slater (Lisburn Gladiators). However, Hayes struggled to gain momentum in the final and Cripwell claimed his maiden national championship 15-6.
Anna Lee (Pembroke FC) emerged undefeated from the poule unique in Women’s Foil, progressing to the final with victories over DUFC fencers Leah McHugh and Crystal-Rose Percival. Second seed Joana Ramalho (Pembroke FC) knocked out Gemma Wright Ballester (RCSI) and cadet Emilia Velma (Pembroke FC) to set up an all-Pembroke final. In her third national final, Anna claimed the title for the first time with a 15-8 victory.
Having traded the top spots in the rankings over the course of the season, it seemed fitting that Michalis Kirimlidis (Salle Dublin) and Stephen Concannon (Salle Dublin) were both undefeated in the pools at the Nationals.
Kirimlidis knocked out Alex Leech (Boyne Valley) and Tadhg Garton (DUFC) before suffering a 15-9 upset by Owen McNamee (US Metro) in the semi-final. With victories over Daithi Harkin (Foyle FC), Brian Murray (Foyle FC), and a 15-7 semi-final against Aidan Clarke (Salle Dublin), Concannon advanced to his seventh consecutive Men’s Sabre final at the National Championships.
Concannon and McNamee have faced each other for this title before, having contested the 2015 and 2009 finals. McNamee led at the halfway point, eking out a three-point gap. However, Concannon broke back in the second half to take his third consecutive title 15-12.
Cadet champion and Irish #1 Beth Taylor (Lisburn Gladiators) capped a stellar season with an undefeated run in the pool, seeding top and receiving a bye to the semi-final. Victory over clubmate Ciara Cormican earned Taylor a place in her first national final.
Salle Dublin’s Szabina Matyas, who recently made her international debut for Ireland at the Olympic zonal, scored comprehensive victories over Imogen McGuickin (DUFC) and Suzanne Marshall (Foyle FC) to reach the final in her first Nationals. She took the title 15-7.