Last Saturday morning in the small university town of Maynooth, 20 teams from 5 different countries competed for Ireland’s first international futnet tournament, The Emerald Cup. Austria, Denmark, England, Germany descended into Maynooth University Sport Hall each with 4 teams all hoping for glory. Over the course of the next 10 hours there would be 47 matches played to see who will take home the Emerald Cup.
In the Group stages it was the partnerships of Ireland A ( G.Sheegar /Mulrooney) and England B (Tomcisak/ Edge) who impressed most by winning all their group matches. Austria also fought hard and both of their doubles teams reached the semi finals. Ireland B( R.Sheegar, Conway) narrowly lost out on a second semi-final place when Austria A’s ( Gira/ Lercher) experience proved valuable. Walter Giradi played some clever shots at the net and ultimately grabbed the points from Ireland in a 3 set thriller 11-5,5-11,13-10.
In the semi final the hosts got their revenge as G.Sheegar/Mulrooney proved too powerful for Austrians and booked their place in the final beating Austria A 11-6,11-6. In the other semi final it was former World Champion Marek Tomcisak who booked Englands place in the final despite a great performance from Austria’s Nicco Haspl.
The final was a similar story. The former Slovakian international singlesplayer played some excellently calculated shots and proved that class is permanent by playing some fantastic shots. Spins,Nails and Smashes were all on show. Despite a brave showing from Ireland in the first set with some good rallies Tomcisak’s England team were too difficult to break down. His intelligence, tactics and skill won the Michael Collins Cup. It was a pleasure to have such a wonderful player with such excellent abilities be present at the tournament. It was clear to see that he was a level above every other player present and it was inspiration to see him in action.
As many of the matches in doubles went to 3 sets there was little time to rest and Triples got underway immediately. Both groups were extremely tight with 8 teams having won 2 or more of their matches. 6 teams were very unlucky not to progress to the semi finals.
In Group A there was surprisingly good result for Ireland B team as they topped the group with 3 wins from 4 matches. New smasher Selby Smith played very well with Conway and Mulrooney and were delighted with their results. In second place was so tight that it went to points scored and conceded. England B ( Parsons/Fromant/Flynn), Denmark B (Pillmann/Bergmann/Sorrel/Seeman) and Austria A ( Giradi,S.Muller/I.Muller/Kernescha) and Germany B ( Spendel/Griesser/Hardersdorfer/Hofmair) all won two matches but ultimately it was Englands points scoring average that booked them a semi final place. Great performances in particular from smasher Sam Parsons, spin shots from Giradi, and all round great performances from Spendel and Pillman made it a competitive group with some very long rallies and great individual pieces of skill.
Group B was a similar story. England A topped the group with that man again Marek Tomcisak impressing and outwitting the other countries. Again 3 other teams won two of their matches and it was Germany B (J.Held/P.Held/Dischler) who scored more points overall than Austria B ( Lercher/Haspl/Proll) and Denmark A (Kovaks/Schumacher/Masek/Veselen) who were very unlucky not to go through. There were some great performances in particular from the young Bavarian Jacob Held, Austrias Proll had a great smash and backfield performance and also Jan Kovaks playing well for the Danish side.
In the semi finals it was an all English affair in the first match. The Slovakian native outclassing the B team in a great match. Parsons again proved he could be the future for the English with some very impressive French style bi-cyce kick smashes.. In the end he was outwitted by the former World Champion and there is no shame in that. England A booking their place in the final in the friendliest of matches. In the second semi final was the surprise packages of Ireland B and Germany A. In the first set Ireland won comfortably 11-3. But that was as good as it got for the Irish as Jacob Held and his teammates played very courageously and beat the hosts in the next two sets 11-8,13-11. The Germans had an average age of 17 years old and they played very well together. The future if German futnet looks bright and the Bavarians even played through injury and deservedly claimed their place in the final.
The final was a bit of an anticlimax as German smasher Held was playing through injury and it was easy to see that with the experience of futnetlegend Tomcisak that they would be no match for him. Tomcisak played just as well as he did throughout the tournament and his skill won England the match. The Germans were very brave and played well but in the end it was Tomcisaks England who won The Tom Crean cup and ultimately The Emerald Cup.
“It was a great pleasure to host a tournament and we hope to try and do it again next year. We would also love to see other countries organise something similar as it is important to play as many matches as possible. All the players from Ireland want to extend their thanks for all the players and supporters who travelled over to play and visit Ireland. As we are all emerging nations in futnet we would love to play more matches but there is little opportunity to do so as there aren’t any competitions for lower level teams such as ourselves. Hopefully The Emerald Cup will be the first of many similar competitions over the coming years. If we are to progress the sport fairly I feel that these little competitions are the way forward. We would like to extend our congratulations to Marek Tomisak and the English team on their deserved wins and also to all the other countries for making it a great tournament. To everyone who travelled from near and far we thank you. See you all in Brno for the World Championships.”