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2005 National Club Championship
The Irish National Club Championship was held in Ennis over the weekend of 11th and 12th June. The four teams competing were Phibsboro, Dublin (last year's runner-up), Rathmines (defending champions), Galway, representing Connacht, and Ennis, the current Munster champions. There was no team from Ulster.
I have listed the teams in seeding order. Ennis, the hosts, were the bottom seeds but you wouldn't have thought so from their performance. The final round was something exceptional. Before play on Sunday morning, the situation looked like this:
Galway, despite their third seeding, were doing badly. Ennis had beaten them 4.5 - 1.5 in the first round. Their poor performance may have had something to do with the fact that there are no Connacht leagues and so they play together as a team once a year, at most.
Phibsboro were to face Ennis while Galway and Rathmines were doing battle. At stake, two spots in this year's European Club Championships in Italy, in September.
The first game to finish was Stephen Brady (2346) vs John Cassidy (1671) and this went as you might have expected, Stephen won. Stephen then went for a walk thinking that the team were doing well. The next game to finish was John Knightson (1614) vs Thomas Brezing (1929, Thomas was two pawns up, John had compensation but, probably not enough. But, Thomas's king got a little too brave and got caught in a very nice mating net, 1 - 1.
Next to finish was Lorcan O'Toole (1759) vs Richard O'Donovan (1981), this went Lorcan's way when Richard blundered a piece in a complicated position, 2 - 1 Ennis. Just about then Stephen came back from his walk and was a little shocked to find his team behind. Things soon got a little worse when young Gawain Jones beat current Irish Champion, Joe Ryan in a game where he was better from an early stage, despite being Black, and never looked back. This completed a great score for Gawain, 3 / 3 against Uri Rochev, Mel O'Cinneide and Joe. Oh yea, it also meant Ennis were now ahead 3 - 1 and Stephen was looking a bit worried.
But the game Kevin Butler (1918) vs Kieran O'Brien (1658) cheered him up a bit, Kevin won nicely, Ennis 3 - 2 now. The last game in this match was Rory Quinn (1868) vs John Joyce (2229) and John was a little late for the game. When he got to the board, he had to start thinking immediately as he was facing 1.Nc3. Maybe a combination of a shortage of time as well as the opening helped to spur on Rory as he went on to beat John in a game that went to full time, Ennis 4 - 2.
This left Ennis with 10 points, Phibsboro on 11 and since Rathmines could only manage to beat Galway by 4 - 2 also, this left the final table looking like this:
Phibsboro and Ennis qualify for the European Club Championship 2005 ! Congratulations to all participants and especially to the qualifiers.
Best of luck in Italy guys.