2008 Irish Surfing Championships: smile, you're a national champion

It was an early start on Saturday morning for Irish surfers competing in the Denny Irish Surfing Championships. The first heat was in the water at 8 a.m. at Tullan Strand. With the wave forecast for Sunday looking poor, event organizers were eager to complete the event in one day.

The open division saw some great surfing. Standouts in the early rounds included Hugh Galloway (Tramore), Damien Conway (Lahinch), Aron Reid (Sligo), Ronan Oertzen (Belfast), and Nicole Morgan (Bundoran, the only women to compete in the Open).

In the semi-finals, newcomer Liam Joyce (Dublin) and veteran David Blount (Tramore) eliminated Hugh Galloway (Tramore) and Kevin Doyle (Tramore), while Cain Kilcullen (Enniscrone) and Fergal Smith (Westport) secured their passes in the final eliminating Owen Murphy (Bundoran) and Ronan Oertzen (Belfast).

As the Open final hit the water conditions were already deteriorating however this did not stop Liam Joyce who opened the final with a high scoring wave.

Liam, whose mother is Irish, has just moved to Ireland from New Zealand, where he competed for many years. He had to make a quick adjustment to the colder conditions surfing in Ireland for the first time at the contest. Liam followed his initial wave with another solid score while the other three contestants struggled to find waves.

In the last five minutes of the final Cain Kilcullen retaliated with a good scoring wave but it still looked like the title would go to Liam as Cain need another similar score. In the dying seconds of the final Cain took off on a small wave ripping all the way to the beach to secure the highest score of the final.

This wave, combined with his earlier high score, was just enough for Cain to take his second Irish title ahead of Liam Joyce in second place, Fergal Smith in third, and David Blount in fourth.

In the Women’s final, Easkey Britton (Rossnowlagh), with power and style, took a fourth consecutive Irish Women’s title, edging Nicole Morgan (Bundoran) into second, Amy May Garvey third, and Tahlia Britton fourth.

Special commendation to Nicole Morgan, who paddled out on a rescue board immediately after her final to assist a novice surfer who was not part of the competition but had gotten into difficulty while surfing further down the beach during the event.

The longboard final was contested by local surfer Emmet O’Doherty, Aidan Byrne (Strandhill), John Mc Curry (Portrush), and Howard Robinson (Portrush).

With a polished display of progressive and traditional maneuvers, John Mc Curry clinched the title, leaving his fellow contestants fighting it out for the other places.

Aidan Burn took second and Howard Robinson third, with Emmet O’Doherty settling for fourth.

In the Bodyboard final, Paul Mc Carter (Bundoran) took the title with Shane Meehan (Strandhill) in second, Darragh McCarter (Paul’s younger brother and 2007 Champion) in third, and Martin Kelly in fourth.

As expected, Ashleigh Smith (Strandhill) dominated the Women’s Bodyboard final. Amy May Garvey finished second, Tahlia Britton third, and Hilary Clarke (Dublin), fourth.

The first national Stand Up Paddle event was contested by Neil Britton (Rossnowlagh), Emmet O’Doherty (Bundoran), John Mc Carthy (Lahinch) and Kieron Black (Down).

Stand-up paddle surfing is a traditional Hawaiian sport that is currently being revived.

From the outset, it was clear that the final would be a battle between Emmet and Kieron as the other two contestants struggled with the strong offshore wind.

Emmet kicked off the final with a solid score, matched by Kieron shortly after.

While Kieron rode several more waves, he did not have a second high score to match Emmet’s final wave.

Emmet O’Doherty was crowned the first Stand UP Paddle Surfing Champion of Ireland, while Kieron settled for second, with John Mc Carthy third, and Neil Britton fourth.

Unfortunately the Senior and Master’s division could not be completed as the swell disappeared with the high tide but these divisions will be run off at the next Bundoran Board Riders event.

Source: Irish Surfing Association

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