Little comfort for manager and the other two selectors
HARDLY a recent season has passed without the people who pick the Irish badminton team being embroiled in some controversy or other and, having decided well before Christmas, to leave three of the most prominent men in the domestic scene out of the squad for next month's Thomas Cup in the Czech Republic, the selectors could only hope that events would prove them right at the Shires Leinster Open and National championships.
The absence at next week's championships of quality opposition from overseas may clarify matters somewhat but, as things turned out at the Leinster event in Terenure on Friday and Saturday night, there was little comfort to be drawn by team manager Mark Methven and his two fellow selectors as a succession of matches threw up results that might justifiably have brought blushes to their cheeks.
Jim Colfor has, of course, been the most vociferous in his objections to being replaced in the squad by the relatively unknown Bustari Eddie but, in a way, the Dubliner's comfortable victory over Eddie on Friday evening mattered least in the scheme of things for their relative singles abilities have never been disputed.
Instead it has been argued by Methven, Peter Kinkead and Tony Robinson that Colfor's shortcomings were in the doubles events and, despite his lack of a particularly impressive record in that event either, that Eddie's abilities in this area offer a greater degree of flexibility in the environment of a team event.
This aspect of the debate hash been hotly contested by the likes of Mark Peard and Donnie O'Halloran, who have strong reputations together in the doubles game, while also showing themselves to be able competitors on their own.
Peard, in particular, came away well from the weekend's events with a fine defeat in the singles of Englishman Norman Wheatley, who a round before had beaten Irish number two Michael Watt on Friday night, and a good win in the mixed doubles, where he partnered Angela Carr to victory against the second seeded pairing James Anderson and Tanya's Groves.
The pairs performance in the men's doubles might, admittedly, have been more impressive with the three sets win against Graham Henderson and George Stephens, in which they won on the third match point doubtless a little less decisively than they would have liked but Henderson is doing to the Thomas Cup while Eddie was not involved. The selectors, in fact, blame Eddie's inability to gain decent doubles results on the limitations of his partner - which in itself may be perfectly justified - but he wouldn't be the first player told to change partners in order to prove himself yet no such suggestion appears to have been made.