2020 EKF JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS, BUDAPEST, HUNGARY


It's another win for Chris McCarthy who brings a Bronze in the U21 +84 Kumite from the 47th Cadet, Junior and U21 European Karate Championship in Budapest.

Chris took on Jan Brezocnik from Slovenia in round 1 with ease winning 6:0. He won the 2nd round 1:0 against Aliaksei Hureyeu of Belarus, moving to the 3rd round where he lost a nail-biting match 4:4 to Predrag Smolovic of Montenegro. The Montenegrin competitor progressed to the final entitling Chris to repechage for bronze. In repechage Chris won 2:0 against Roland Gyovai of Hungary. Reflecting on the day McCarthy said:" It was an amazing experience and glad I could do it with my coach Steve". Chris previously won gold at the 46th European Championship in Aalborg Denmark, Bronze at Youth League in Limassol Cyprus and Bronze in Youth League in Umag, Croatia.

Emma Dolan finished 7th in the Junior female -53kg kumite, followed by debutants to the squad Ryan Coleman and Abby-Rose Byrne who competed in their first EKF championship, finishing 9th in cadet -57 kg and u21 -61kg categories respectively.

Emma Dolan :"It was a very valuable learning experience for me competing in my first WKF European championships, I know where I went wrong in my first fight against the girl from Israel , even though I beat her I had many more opportunities to score , the second fight went better, I gained a little more confidence on the mat as I beat the girl from Cyprus 3-0. I switched off in the third round and was put out by the girl who went on to win the European title. I came here with the mindset of winning a medal and unfortunately, I didn't show all my talent on the tatami. I am determined to go home and work on what I need to improve on to be placed on that podium. I got back in the repechage and managed to get a 7th place finish in the junior -53kg category. I'm still new into the U18 category but I'm looking forward to the rest of my time competing in it."

Debutants to the squad Ryan Coleman in Cadets and Abby Rose Byrne in the – 61kg u21s achieved amazing 9th in their respective categories. Coleman found "the EKFs was a great experience. My first time to compete at this level. I was happy with my performance and placing in the top 10. Thank you to my coaches Eamonn Pegley and Paul Brennan, IKKU for their support and Budo Nord for the sponsorship of my gear and Stephen O'Callaghan for looking after me in Budapest." Coleman competed in Cadet -57 kg Beating Andrej Kmet of Slovakia in the 1st round but losing to the new silver medalist Dominik Dziuda of Poland. In Repechage he lost out to bronze medalist Valiko Poliava of Georgia.

Abby Rose Byrne joined the squad in U21 -61kg, also for her first time. She faced the current World Silver medalist Allesandra Mangiacapra, now also a silver European medalist of Italy in the first round, losing 0:2. In Repechage Byrne lost out to Maryia Azarava of Belarus. Byrne found the competition a really good experience "I Really enjoyed being on the mats even though it was a big challenge. I was happy with my performance and I can't wait to get back to training for the next one".

In junior male kata, Davey Gannon achieved his highest ranking to-date at no 19. Gannon performed Kanku Sho scoring 2.28 point reaching the 5th place in the group with a difference of a mere 0.06 points on athletic score and 0.56 on the technical score. However, only the top 4 proceed through to the 2nd round. Nevertheless, Gannon yet again improved on his overall score and placing, finishing 19th at the end of the competition. Eimear Porter finished 25th in female U21 kata. For Porter: "The 2020 Cadet junior and U21 European championships draws my junior karate career to a close. This was my fifth European championships at this level, having started as a Cadet in 2014, making my debut in Portugal. I am delighted to say that I have competed in each category along the way, Cadet, junior and U21. Throughout the years, I have seen the standard of Kata, and Kumite, increase and no doubt the experience is invaluable. However, this year's European championships has certainly been one I will never forget! Firstly, the size of the Irish team is the biggest one yet! For a team that I personally would not have met before, we have gelled well; and also, for the fact it is my last. Certainly, one massive benefit of competing at this level is the number of friends I have made around Europe that I will never forget. Regarding my own performance on the tatami, I have never felt stronger, more focused and more determined. I was disappointed on my score, because I don't think it really reflected my performance. However, there are improvements to be made and it is the little things like the scores we get that drive us on to do better for the next one! It's back to training and prepare for the next competition!"

Ranked also was Conor Holohan 31st in Male Cadet Kata in his 1st ever European championship, a super achievement for the novice to the squad who competed with the WKF new kata Sansai.

The remainder of the athletes achieved some fantastic results especially as for many this was the very first time at a competition of this scale. In Cadets Zoe McDermott beat Zofia Malinska of Poland in the 2nd round 3:0, losing out in 3rd 1:2 to Dora Fleischer of Hungary. Rachel Slevin met Youth league silver medalist Denisa Lungu of Romania, losing 0:2 and reflects:" My experience in the EKF was a new level. The standard was much higher which was a better challenge for not just me but the full team. Standing out on the tatami with the big crowds was such an amazing trill. I wasn't the result I was hoping for, but it was a brilliant experience."

Leigh O'Sullivan in -63kg cadets won in the 2nd round 0:1 against Stavros Paliaroutas of Greece but went out to Uladzislau Bahdanau of Romania. In Juniors – 59kg Ayla O'Sullivan comfortably wins 3:0 over Seren Jackson of Wales but is estopped from proceeding through the 3rd round by Referee 'Hantai' decision following a 0:0 draw against Viyaleta Navitskaya. Hantai is called by the Tatami Referee in circumstances of a draw, following which the judges must indicate by raising a blue or red flag which competitor they felt was more progressive throughout the duration of the fight. Brianna Heylmann, a debutant junior +59g won her first fight against Viola Hyvonen of Finland 2:1 but went out in the next round 1:4 to Olena Pavloska of Ukrania.

Following a bye in the 1st round, Hieu Power took on Noah Toennis of Germany in the 2nd round winning 2:1. Unfortunately Hieu was then disqualified in the 3rd round against Szabo Marcel Gabor of Hungary, even though he was gaining the upper hand and was looking in excellent form to challenge for a medal. Conor Grogan competed in junior -68kg and despite both competitors scoring 3 points, the Romanian Eduard Vidinaru was proclaimed winner for scoring the first point, known as Senshu." I felt the experience was good overall even though I was beaten on senshu. The competition was great and the support from the team was fantastic" said Grogan.

Tirna Connors stepped out for her first time at this level meeting double world silver medalist Fidan Teymurova from Azerbaijan but did not proceed through. Similarly, Anthony Kelly, Rian Fitzpatrick, Lee Sheridan, Danny Byrne, Jonathan Peppard, Conor O'Sullivan and Sam Wheldon met fierce opposition.

In u21 Sean McCarthy received a 'bye' in the first round moving through the second round with a score of 1:0 against Markus Markanen of Sweden. In the 3rd round he faces current category world bronze medalist, Samed Gok and despite strong performance goes out on a 2:4. This year we took our biggest ever squad of 24 young athletes, 8 female and 16 males to the 46th Cadet, Junior and U21 European Karate Championship, in Budapest with the assistance of our national and regional coaches. For some this was their first time at this level of championship for some it was a farewell to the junior scene as they move on to competing at the Senior level. Indeed, Chris and Sean McCarthy will be back on the European scene later in March as they are selected for the Senior Squad travelling to the 55th Senior European Karate Championship in Baku. So, as some of these young athletes go on to chase Olympic dreams of Tokyo others will have the Youth Olympic games in Dakar 2022 in their sights.

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