Ireland have qualified for the World Open Team Championship in Marrakesh, Morocco next year. Tom Hanlon, Hugh McGann, Nick FitzGibbon, Adam Mesbur, John Carroll, Mark Moran with non-playing captain Gráinne Barton secured Ireland’s place by finishing sixth in the European Championship which ended on Wednesday in Funchal in Madeira.
The Irish settled into the top six after a round 10 victory over Switzerland and briefly held the bronze medal when they beat Spain in round 17. Thereafter they never looked in danger not to qualify. This is the best performance by an Irish side since five members of the same team won silver in Warsaw 2006. It should be noted that this is the country, not the current players of the team, which qualified for the World Finals. The Irish Bridge Union could select different players for Marrakech, but that’s unlikely.
Ireland Women’s Team Teresa Rigney, Diane Greenwood, Joan Kenny, Jeannie Fitzgerald, Rebecca O’Keeffe-Brown, Gilda Pender and non-playing captain Paul Porteous came awfully close to qualifying for the Women’s Championship when they finished ninth , one point and one place behind the target but ahead of teams as strong as the Netherlands, England and Italy.
After a sixth-round victory over Poland, they hovered between eighth and tenth place until the end and beat such strong teams as the Netherlands, France and Denmark. In the final game against Iceland, neither team managed to take the lead as the Irish battled for that elusive point. We can still offer them tickets to Marrakech. If a team from one of the World Bridge Federation zones fails to take their place, the Irish women will be called up. Given current travel issues and high costs, this is a real possibility.
Ireland’s senior and mixed teams had disappointing tournaments in Madeira and were never in contention in their respective competitions.
Qualifications for the World Championship: Open: 1. Netherlands; 2. Switzerland; 3. Norway; 4. Italy; 5. Poland; 6. IRELAND; 7. Israel; 8. Belgium. Women: 1. Poland; 2. Sweden; 3. Israel; 4. Germany; 5.France; 6. Denmark; 7. Turkey; 8. Norway. Seniors: 1. Poland; 2. Denmark; 3. Sweden; 4. Italy; 5. Israel; 6. Belgium; 7. Norway; 8. Netherlands. Mixed: 1.France; 2. Romania; 3. Italy; 4. Denmark; 5. Germany; 6. Poland; 7. Israel; 8. Belgium.
The Annual General Meeting of the Contract Bridge Association of Ireland will be held at the Clayton Silver Springs Hotel, Cork on Saturday.