Fergal Smith wins the Gravis Co Sligo Open in Ireland

September 30, 2008 | Surfing

Gravis Co Sligo Open

Strandhill played host to a busy weekend of surfing with the Gravis Co Sligo Open and Irish Team Training taking place.

The Denny Irish Junior and Senior Surf Teams due to compete at the World Surfing Games and the European Surfing Championships later this year arrived in Strandhill on Friday for a training camp led by top Australia coach, Peter Cook.

The camp was combined with the Gravis Co Sligo Open, postponed in August due to lack of surf but this time around with good surf and a great crowd the Co Sligo Surf Club once again hosted a top rate event.

The event saw surfers competing at a higher standard than every before with some unexpected results. The upsets began on Saturday in the U18 Boys when two under 12 surfers, Gearoid Mc Daid (Sligo) and Aaron O’Hare (Strandhill) turned heads by progressing to the quarter finals.

Eleven year old Gearoid continued to impress along with fourteen year old Iarom Madden (Bundoran) charging all the way to the final while big names such as Irish Junior Champion, Owen Murphy (Bundoran) and James Garvey (Castlederg) were eliminated.

In the final Gearoid and Iarom faced off against Ronan Oertzen (Sligo) and Damien Conway (Lahinch). Gearoid opened the scoring with a long ride and some big manoeuvres that had the local crowd cheering on the shore.

The judges struggled to agree on a winner with each surfer riding several high scoring waves during the final. When tabulated Iarom emerged in 1st place, Damien 2nd, Ronan 3rd and young Gearoid in 4th.

The U18 Bodyboard was an all Sligo final with Rory O’Dowd 1st, David Mulcahy 2nd,  Conor Flanaghan 3rd and Shane Daly 4th. Tahlia Britton (Rossnowlagh) dominated the U18 Girls final with a number of high scoring waves. She was followed in 2nd place by Ione Byrne (Aughris) who put in a solid performance. Amy May Garvey (Castlederg) finished 3rd and Niamh Kelly (Strandhill) 4th.

There were two Irish titles up for grabs at the event, the Irish Senior  (28+) and Masters (35+) titles. Stevie Burns (Portrush) defended his Irish Masters Title with a fine display of surfing while John Britton (Rossnowlagh) took his first Irish Senior title.

Another standout at the event was Nicole Morgan (Bundoran). Nicole has dominated this year’s Women’s UK Pro Tour and has been making her mark on the Women’s European Pro Tour. She took the women’s title with ease, surfing with power, grace and style. Ione Byrne finished 2nd, Tahlia Britton 3rd and Amy May Garvey 4th. 

Again the Bodyboard division saw some upsets with two under sixteen surfers, Rory O’Dowd (Strandhill) and Ordhran Mc Govern (Strandhill) making the final. However it was local hero, Shane Meehan who was crowned champion, with Ordhran 2nd, Darragh Mc Carter (Bundoran) 3rd and Rory 4th.

Current Irish SUP Champion, Emmet O’Doherty (Bundoran) showed his versatility by crossing over to the longboard event where he dominated with an animated display of progressive longboarding. Steive Burns (Portrush) finished 2nd, John Mc Curry (Portrush) 3rd and fifteen year old Craig Butler from Tramore took 4th. 

The Open final was contested by Aaron Reid (Sligo), Ronan Oertzen (Sligo), Stephen Kilfeather (Strandhill) and Fergal Smith (Westport). This final was sensational with all four surfers on fire. Spectators were treated to the finest display of powerful and radical surfing by Ireland’s best.

Fergal Smith’s polished performance led him to victory but he was push all the way by the other three. Stephen  Kilfeather took 2nd followed by Aaron Reid in 3rd and Ronan Oertzen in 4th.

U18 Bodyboard

1. Rory O’Dowd, Strandhill

2. David Mulcahy, Sligo

3. Conor Flanaghan, Sligo

4. Shane Daly, Sligo

U18 Girls Surf

1. Tahlia Britton

2. Ione Byrne

3. Amy May Grvey

4. Niamh Kelly

U18 Boys Surf

1. Iarom Madden, Bundoran

2. Damien Conway, Lahinch

3. Ronan Oertzen, Sligo

4. Gearoid Mc Daid, Sligo


1. Shane Meehan, Strandhill

2. Oran Mc Govern, Strandhill

3. Darragh Mc Carter, Bundoran

4. Rory O’Dowd, Strandhill


1. Emmet O’Doherty

2. Stevie Burns, Portrush

3. John Mc Curry, Portrush

4. Craig Bulter, Tramore 

Women’s Surf

1. Nicole Morgan, Bundoran

2. Ione Byrne, Aughris

3. Tahlia Britton, Rossnowlagh

4. Amy May Garvey, Castlederg

Open Surf

1. Fergal Smith, Westport

2. Stephen Kilfeather, Strandhill

3. Aaron Reid, Sligo

4. Ronan Oertzen, Sligo

Irish Senior Championships

1. John Britton, Rossnowlagh

2. Kieran Scullion, Sligo

3. Emmet O’Doherty, Bundoran

4. Neil Britton, Rossnowlagh

Irish Masters Championship

1. Stevie Burns, Portrush

2. Finn Mullen, Sligo

3. Jim Meehan, Bundoran

4. Henery Moore, Tramore

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