NI Fencing held the Northern Ireland Open in Belfast this weekend. Nominated as the fourth event on the Irish National Circuit, we’d like to congratulate all of this year’s champions:
- Men’s Épée
Winner: Geoffrey Corcoran (Pembroke Fencing Club)
Runner-up: Conall Cromie (Truro Fencing Club)
- Women’s Épée
Winner: Charlotte Slater (Lisburn Gladiators)
Runner-up: Kerrie Johnson (Pentathlon Ireland)
- Men’s Foil
Winner: David Alexander (Nottingham Cavaliers)
Runner-up: Phillip Cripwell (DU Fencing)
- Women’s Foil
Winner: Victoria Duxbury (Edinburgh Fencing Club)
Runner-up: Lucy Taylor (Edinburgh Fencing Club)
- Men’s Sabre
Winner: Raul Perez Garrote (DUFC)
Runner-up: Michalis Kirimlidis (Salle Dublin)
- Women’s Sabre
Winner: Francine Robb
Runner-up: Beth Taylor (Lisburn Gladiators)
Full standings are now available on the Results page.
Irish Open winner David Alexander sought to defend his Northern Ireland title for a third consecutive year. Undefeated in the pools, his route to the final included victories over cadet Robbie Cockburn, veteran Philip Lee, and fellow Ireland international Gavin Williams, whom he defeated 15-8 in the semi-final.
National junior #1 Phillip Cripwell knocked out Alastair Houldsworth 15-10 to reach the quarter-finals, where he overturned 4th seed Philip Slater 15-8. Cripwell earned a place in the final 15-14 against Theo Millar. Experience won the day as David Alexander took gold 15-6 in the title decider.
The Women’s Foil category remained as hotly-contested as ever. Edinburgh Fencing Club’s Victoria Duxbury and Lucy Taylor led the field from the outset, proceeding through the tableau with dominant performances.
The tightest matches of the day were fenced in quarter-finals, between Ireland junior fencer Anna Lee and incumbent NI champion Keziah Beattie (9-8 to Lee) and between Joana João Ramalho and cadet Emilia Velma (15-14 to Ramalho).
Taylor swept to the final defeating Ann O’Sullivan, Charlotte Slater, and Joana Ramalho. Duxbury, with the sole bye of the tableau, knocked out Sarah Shaw and Anna Lee. Having previously met in the 2013 final, the title match between Duxbury and Taylor was a taut and skilful affair, but in the end Duxbury came from behind to defeat her clubmate 15-13.
Saturday’s third and final event was contested by a smaller field than usual. Fresh from a strong performance for Ireland at the Mödling Cadet, Beth Taylor defeated her Lisburn Gladiators clubmate Ciara Cormican for a place in the final, but could not overcome NI Five Nations stalwart (and reigning champion) Francine Robb in the race for gold.
The Men’s Épée trophy changed hands once again in 2016 – no fencer has managed to defend the title since Andrew Fenwick’s tenure, which ended in 2011.
Top seed Geoffrey Corcoran despatched Paul McCarron and foilist Alastair Houldsworth before facing clubmate Paddy Brennan in in the semi-finals. An on-form Brennan knocked out Daniel Boyd, Mandla Mbondiya and Duncan Salter en route to the podium, testing the Irish #1 to a 13-13 stalemate. Corcoran found the final touches and earned his place in the final 15-13.
On the other side of the draw, reigning titleholder Conall Cromie eliminated Dawid Kulka 15-10 and Paul Verdon 14-8 to meet second seed Philip Slater in the last 8. The pair’s last meeting was in the 2014 NI Open final, and Cromie once again came away the victor as he progressed to the semi-finals 15-9. An athletic and vocal match against Foyle junior Jonathan Burnside finished 15-12 in Cromie’s favour.
After disciplined performances from both fencers throughout the day, all bets were off for the final. Corcoran maintained a marginal lead for much for the match, but Cromie kept his composure into the final touches to equalise 13-13 and draw ahead. At 14-13, Cromie looked poised to take gold, but another tenacious equaliser, this time from Corcoran, squared the odds yet again. As the clock ran down towards priority, the frantic final exchanges saw attack and counterattack alike fail, but it was Corcoran’s blade that found its mark first as the Pembroke fencer took his first NI title 15-14.
Cadet fencer Charlotte Slater continued a stunning run of form on the senior circuit at this year’s NI Open.
Entering the tableau without a bye, Slater defeated Hunterhouse novice Zoe Stanley 15-8 and registered a 15-4 victory over Eve Megaw, her sparring partner at Lisburn Gladiators. Slater’s toughest match of the day was against Camille Hindsgaul of Trinity College Dublin. Having overturned second seed and DUFC clubmate Lucy Johnson in the quarter-finals in a 15-14 nailbiter, Hindsgaul came off the worse of another 15-14 result against Slater to earn a bronze medal.
Undefeated in the pools, Irish #1 Kerrie Johnson eliminated veteran Marie McGinnity 15-6 and her former Plymouth College clubmate Emma Andrews 15-9. Andrews (like Slater, aged just 14) impressed against Fiona Haldane and Brienin Harron in the opening rounds but was unable to find momentum against Johnson in a classy semi-final.
After a cautious start from both fencers, Charlotte Slater began to extend her lead with an impressive command of distance. Kerrie Johnson struggled to control the tempo of the match; forced onto the offence in the hopes of closing the gap, she fell victim to Slater’s long attacks and dominant bladework. Charlotte Slater took the title 15-5.
With Stephen Concannon absent, the sabre title was up for the taking at this year’s NI Open. A varied entry included podium regulars and new faces alike, with Juan Perez proving the wildcard of the day: though new to the Irish competitive scene, the DUFC fencer has represented Spain internationally since cadet level, and was ranked 57th in the world by his final junior season.
Salle Dublin rivals Michalis Kirimlidis and Aidan Clarke teased out yet another tense and contentious semi-final. Kirimlidis progressed, edging still closer to longtime leader Stephen Concannon in the national rankings. Clarke claimed a hard-earned bronze medal.
On the other side of the draw, Perez faced fellow newcomer Michael Jacob (first seen on the Irish circuit with a quarter-final finish at the Irish Open.) A commanding performance from Perez concluded 15-4 in his favour, and the momentum was sustained into the final. Perez took the title 15-8.