Co Mayo father and son partnership Ian and Niall Kilroy won the preliminary home international trials in Templeogue at the weekend when, at the end of one of the most closely-fought competitions of the year, they finished ahead of two Dublin partnerships Máire O’Connor and Suzanne Hill and Kate Daultry and Seán Maguire, who were second and third respectively. Frank Davy and Pat Duff were fourth.
Only three victory points separated these four pairs at the end, with the winners edging out the runners-up by a mere one-third of a point. Tony Ward and Bill O’Hanlon, who remained close to the leaders throughout, were fifth, with Adrienne Purdy and Marie James sixth.
Rachel Connellan and Fiona O’Gorman, who eventually finished seventh, set the early pace to lead after three rounds, but by close of play on Saturday evening the Kilroys, following early losses, had come to the front but only marginally ahead of Ward and O’Hanlon, who took the lead briefly on Sunday morning. However, the Tullamore pair’s lead was short-lived and their chances were shattered by a disastrous result in the afternoon from which it was virtually impossible to recover. The winners kept their composure to the end and held off all challengers.
The competition, which was inaugurated last year, offers the opportunity to players who are marginally short of the trials’ required master-point holding and who are potentially of international standard to compete for places on the national team. The Kilroys and O’Connor and Hill will be invited to form a team to take part in the home-international open trials proper which will be contested in Limerick from October 17th to October 30th, while Purdy and James and Connellan and O’Gorman will be asked to form a team to play in the women’s trials in Dublin from November 10th to November 12th.
Luca Crone and Matthew O’Farrell capped a successful mid-year campaign during which they travelled between America and continental Europe to compete in top-level tournaments by winning Bridge Great Britain’s open under-26 online pairs event and the Paul Porteous trophy on Saturday.
Two Scottish pairs, Rufus Behr and Jamie Day and Adam Serafin and Kajetan Granops, filled the minor places. Ireland’s Sheila Walsh and Isabel Burke were fourth and best female pair. Harriet Cork and Raffaela Sinclair (England) won the under-21 competition and the Liz McGowan trophy.