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Activity Update
While our club is closed, we are carrying out some maintenance in line with the restrictions and challenges that Covid-19 presents. We aim to provide a clean safe environment to return to when we do get back up and running. We are working on “getting back playing guidelines”. Clive is monitoring what other countries are implementing. One thing for sure is we will all have to understand any risks and be disciplined about cleaning.
So, here is what is happening to the club at the moment.
·        The facility is painted (not the courts just the common areas)
·        New roof installed in the corridor between ladies and gents dressing rooms
·        Court one floor is being repaired
·        We are looking at solutions to increase the heat in court one area. We have removed the counter unit blocking the radiator. We will upgrade the radiator if the cash is available.
·        New carpet will be fitted later this month.
·        Ladies toilet will be tiled and made more user friendly.
·        If the cash allows tiling will be done in gents changing room also
·        Our pathway is almost finished. Just waiting on the builders to return to work and complete the fencing
Thanks to everyone for your patience and understanding.
Last weekend, Ennis man Jonathan Rabaey travelled to Cork to enter the Munster Squash Senior Closed where he brought home another trophy - this time,  at two levels higher than last season's competition. Having entered the C division, he faced a tough draw on the Saturday against Barry Hackett of Sunday’s Well, a player of extensive Division 3 league experience. This match was a tough battle, characterized by long rallies along the walls. Hackett used his greater experience and managed to prevail on a score line of 11-6, 11-8,11-3, propelling Rabaey into the plate semi-final against Paul Murphy of Dunhill.
Rabaey shrugged off this initial disappointment and refocused for his next game. Playing Paul Murphy in what turned out to be a highly entertaining game lasting 1hr and 10mins, Rabaey fought hard against a determined opponent in a contest which drew a huge crowd as the drama unfolded. Rabaey lost the first 11-13 after being 10-8 down with Murphy 's withering cross-shots getting him over the line. Rabaey then took the second 12-10 demonstrating good length down the lines allied to precise drops. Murphy then came out in the third winning 11-8 with some long attritional rallies going his way. 
Rabaey then understood he would have to increase his intensity levels to regain momentum. Taking the ball a little earlier off the front wall and cross-courting the ball a little more, he managed to take the fourth 12-10 after bravely clawing back two game balls to bring it to the fifth. This deciding game turned out to be another thriller where once again the players duelled up and down the left wall. Rabaey found himself down 7-3 but remained calm and concentrated. 
Jonathan Rabaey
Tidy technique, combined with good fitness, saw the young Ennis man, power home on an 11-8 score-line, putting him through to the C plate final against Sunday’s Well’s Seamus Mulcahy.
Having played (and lost to) Mulcahy earlier this year in the Sunday’s Well open final, Rabaey knew a tough battle was in prospect as once again, a large crowd was gathering in Silversprings for Finals Sunday. Rabaey managed to take the first two games with his fitness and long straight drives down the left putting his opponent under substantial pressure. Mulcahy then took the third game, with clever tactical shifts using boasts and drops to wrongfoot the Ennis man. However, the huge energy expended by both players began to take a disporportionate toll on the Cork man and Rabaey maintained his intensity and efficiency to go on to a claim an excellent 3-1 win. Now a familiar figure on the provincial circuit, Jonathan Rabaey will now hope to spearhead Ennis CBS' DIvision 6 team in their bid to retain their Munster League crown this Spring.
We hosted Thurles in the Munster Division 4 Squash League last Wednesday. Both sides had secured hard-fought wins over Kilbrin in their opening fixtures and the winner on the night could take a tangible lead in the race for top spot in the group. Thurles travelled without top seeds Martin Gleeson, Pat Kerwick and Jamie Byrne, however they nevertheless presented a formidable challenge on the night.
At number four, Denis Meehan faced Sandra Walsh of the visitors. Walsh had demonstrated her hard-hitting prowess in the Division 5 league before Christmas and certainly lived up to that in Ennis. The first game was extremely close, with both players powering the ball into the back corners at every opportunity. Meehan edged that 15-12 and the pattern was repeated throughout the match with Walsh’s pace and power a constant threat to the Tulla man. In the end, the CBS man’s boasting ability proved just enough to edge home in three close games.
In stark contrast to the number four match, Pat McCagh and Thurles’ Gerry Connaughton played out a highly-technical battle at number five. Replete with flicks and slices, the first game fell to McCagh by the minimum margin before Connaughton, also a highly experienced player, managed to deploy his inimitable lob serve to good effect to come back to level matters. McCagh was successful in neutralising the Thurles man’s serve and took a 13-9 lead in the third but Connaughton’s perfectly-weighted soft lobs during the rallies edged him back to a tiebreak win. The fourth game was, again, a superb illustration of technique from both men and it fell to the Thurles captain, 15-13, for a 3-1 win.
Declan Frawley and Thurles’ Adrian Cleere replayed their Division 3 clash at number one in this fixture. Frawley’s intensity, allied to good dropping when needed, gave him the upper hand. Cleere once again showcased his excellent touchplay but it was not enough to stave off a 3-0 win for the CBS.
Another Frawley, Leo, took on Liam Maher at number two. This was an excellent battle with the Thurles man’s power and intensity presenting a fearsome challenge for the Clarecastle man. However, the incredibly consistent boast-kills from Leo Frawley proved to be an irresistible force on the night and he took a 3-0 win for Ennis CBS.
The bonus points secured, attention turned to the clash of Colum Gavin against Thurles’ John Keane (another excellent alumnus of Thurles’ Division 5 outfit). Keane’s power-boasts from the back were instrumental in a first game win before Gavin began to deploy some soft-drops at the end of long rallies to take the second. Keane continued to play with ferocious power and good pace to stretch the CBS man but Gavin’s controlled technique gave him a slight edge to win out 3-1.
The final result was Ennis CBS 17 Thurles 4, a tremendous step towards the semi-finals – albeit with the substantial caveat that Thurles were shorn of their main leaders. 
Next up for the CBS is the visit of Kilbrin on March 4.
Last Wednesday, our Division Four Team travelled to North Cork to face Kilbrin in their opening Munster Squash League fixture. Kilbrin, a battle-hardened and experienced outfit at this level, were expected to provide a battle royale and so it proved to be.
First up, at number four, were Tulla’s Denis Meehan for the CBS with an exceptionally strong opponent in Brendan Barrett. Meehan began brightly with some terrific boasts stretching the Kilbrin man. At 7-12, Barrett began to find his range with excellent tight driving down both sides. The game tightened to a tiebreak which the Kilbrin man took. The remaining two games were hard-fought with Meehan’s power and commitment driving Barrett back to the corners on a regular basis. The scoring was tight all through, but the Kilbrin man’s long service as a leader for Kilbrin gave him that extra bit of tactical nous to win out.
Pat McCagh was number five for Ennis CBS, facing John O’Donoghue. Both men were technically adept, with kill-shots from the back a mutual speciality. McCagh showed great composure to reply from 1-7 down to claim the first game. The Kilbrin man showed his dropshot expertise in the second to level matters. The remaining games were tightly-fought, McCagh’s superbly-weighted lobs vying with O’Donoghue’s terrific backhand overhead-volleys. In the end, the CBS man took a vital 3-1 win on 15-12, 15-11 score-lines.
Leo Frawley was number two, up against Jim O’Flynn of Kilbrin. O’Flynn, absent from Kilbrin’s lineup in recent years, but a player of vast experience and powerful striking, started strongly against the Clarecastle man. Frawley’s excellent touch-play at the front was proving successful but the first game went all the way to a prolonged tiebreak. The CBS man edged that, and buoyed by the success, he began to gain the upper hand. O’Flynn’s technique remained very effective but the younger legs of Frawley were able to reach into the corners to take the win.
Another Magpie, Conor Plunkett was top seed, once again facing a strong player in Tomas O’Riordan. The Kilbrin man raced into a 12-7 lead in the first, with good power out of the back corners. Plunkett remained calm and, displaying good athleticism, he roared back to a tiebreak. The watching crowd were agog as momentum swung wildly until O’Riordan finally won 21-19. He then forged ahead to win the second and serve for the match in the third. Showing great resolve, the Clarecastle man held O’Riordan at bay to win the tiebreak and then drive on to win the fourth to force a deciding fifth game. At 0-6, Plunkett faced a mammoth task but some super rallying under ferocious pressure brought it back to 12-12. He just couldn’t hold off a resurgent O’Riordan at the death for a 13-15 loss in a pulsating encounter.
Colum Gavin was number three on this occasion with Vinny Hayes of the hosts in the opposite corner. Perhaps the most exciting match of the night, Gavin’s patient rallying was matched by the penetrating cross-court drives of Hayes. Hayes’ committed play saw him forge 10-14 leads on two separate occasions, needing just one more point for success. The CBS man’s ultra-reliable rallying, allied to some expert dropping saw him peg back the deficit on each occasion and go on to claim a 3-1 win.
The result was Ennis CBS 14 Kilbrin 8, in reality a knife-edge result, excluding bonus points, and it leaves Ennis CBS looking forward to the visit of the customary strong selection from Thurles next week.
Our Division Five team travelled to Thurles to take on Highfield of Cork city in the Munster Squash League Final. The CBS had their regular line-up, while the Cork team were shorn of their normal #4 and #5 players on this occasion.
First on court were the top seeds – Colm Murphy and Highfield’s Brendan Crowley. Both men were adept at tight driving down the left and lengthy rallies were commonplace. Crowley showed good variety with some unanswerable boasts to overturn early leads for Murphy in the first two games. Into the third, Murphy’s well-executed drop-kills were keeping him in touch but Crowley’s tremendous retrieval from the back-corners, allied to an edge in fitness, saw him close-out 15-11.
Seán Talty was the CBS number five, facing Dermot Ryan. Ryan’s unorthodox technique posed some early problems for Talty, however the pacey Clarecastle man began to dominate with excellent straight-driving and court coverage. Winning the first game, Talty continued to play with intensity and, although Ryan continued to pepper the play with kill-shots, the CBS man delivered the victory in what has been an outstanding debut season on a personal level. CBS captain, Andy Loughran, was next in with Eoghan McCarthy providing the opposition at number four. The ciotóg McCarthy got off to a flyer with some tremendous low kills to lead 10-4. Loughran was roused into action with a gutsy display of running power and precise driving to win that game. McCarthy showed some terrific backhand power to trouble the CBS man in the second game, however the Armagh native remained a study in concentration to take a 2-0 lead and then close-out, though not without significant pressure from McCarthy. The CBS now needed one win from the remaining two matches to take the title – first up, Garrett Barry facing Highfield’s Eoin Wallace. This proved to be the outstanding contest of the night, with a real ‘war of attrition’ into and out of the back corners. The players traded the opening two games with little to choose between them. While Wallace was still maintaining a very strong defensive shield, Barry’s strong fitness began to gradually give him a slight advantage and that was instrumental in a hugely creditable 3-1 win. Again, the Clarecastle man can be very satisfied with an impressive campaign. Mike Curley now had the enjoyable task of completing the order, in action against Highfield number two, Seamus Roche. The powerful strokes of the Athlone man gave the CBS a win in the first game, though Roche was proving a menace with some terrific straight-drops and front-court boasts. Indeed, the Cork man took the second game before Curley’s power and pace began to have a telling effect. Some superb tight driving gave the CBS man the edge and he went on to claim a victory. Curley’s hard-fought win at Glenville in the semi-final was arguably the CBS performance of the campaign.
And so, Ennis CBS claimed the Munster Division Five title, with great credit due to players like John Everard (the comeback hero at Limerick Lawn), Tom Halpin and Frederic De Sousa who won against Thurles and Kilbrin respectively. 

Our victorious team on the night: Seán Talty, Colm Murphy, Andy Loughran, Michael Curley and Garrett Barry. Well done lads!
C.B.S. Division Five League Winners.
We hosted Thurles in Munster Squash League Division 3 last week. Both sides were very much in contention for ultimate honours, along with Highfield, and the result was of vital import.
At number three, Paddy Vaughan took on Jamie Byrne from Thurles. This was a superb contest with Vaughan’s lightning retrieval being matched by the young Thurles man. The CBS player overturned several attacking moves from Byrne to lead 11-8. However, Tipp man’s hard-hitting overhead volley-kills saw him recover and take a tiebreak win. Vaughan redoubled his efforts and with perfectly-weighted diagonal lobs from the front-left sector, he strode to a comfortable riposte. The third and fourth games were taken by the Thurles player, matching Vaughan’s fitness and striking hard and low on the forehand side, in particular. The CBS man showed incredible defensive capability to stay in touch but couldn’t quite force his way to the front on this occasion.
At number two, old acquaintances Mike Conlon and Thurles’ Noel Walsh were once more in action. Conlon, the Irish No.1 at O60 level, opted for a ‘shoot-on-sight’ policy against Walsh, in a bid to truncate the rallies. Walsh’s pace around the court and powerful straight-driving proved successful in the first game. Conlon then began to find his mark, with some tremendous near-side boast-kills and tight driving keeping him close to his opponent’s score. In the end, the O40 Masters regular from Thurles just had the edge in intensity to take the match in three games.
The match of the night was the clash between Mike Brophy and Pat Kerwick  The rallies were long and intense with Brophy’s renowned defensive work being tested by the powerful drives of the Tipp man. The games were swapped in turn before a deciding fifth game unfolded. Kerwick had the focus to edge into a strong lead and, though Brophy hit some expert ball down the left wall, it was just too much of a target for a full recovery on this occasion.
Clarecastle’s Declan Frawley took on Adrian Cleere of the visitors. Frawley brought tremendous athleticism to bear on proceedings but Cleere had some thrilling touch-play in his locker too. The first game was tight but the CBS man’s greater consistency saw him take it. Cleere responded with some piercing low cross-shots to forge a 5-0 lead. Frawley responded with an increase in intensity levels, coupled with some tidy drops, to bridge the gap and take a 2-0 lead. The remaining game was, once again, a clash of contrasts with Cleere’s flicked winners impressing but Frawley maintained his determined focus to claim victory.
Last Friday, our Division Five team travelled to Glenville, Co Cork for the first leg of their Division 5 semi-final. With only one court available, matches began at 5.30pm with the top seed match – Colm Murphy v Simon Drislane of the hosts. While Murphy began brightly with some tidy drops, Drislane began to prosper with some hard, low diagonal driving into the back corners. The game was level as double figures beckoned but the Glenville man surged to take first blood. The second game was again well-contested initially but Drislane’s well-executed half-volley boasting gave him a crucial advantage once more. The third game saw the Glenville player dominate early on with some terrific retrieval under pressure and he took the match.
Garrett Barry was next on court, facing Glenville number three John Loftus. Both men played a hard-hitting, athletic game and the first game saw Loftus display good killing off service return to take the first. Barry then began to impose a tight-driving style, coupled with some excellent cross-shots wide of his opponent’s reach to level matters. Maintaining a consistent level, the CBS man managed to keep just ahead of his determined and powerful opponent to win the third. The intense exchanges continued but Barry kept his errors to the minimum for a most welcome win.
Ennis CBS captain, Andy Loughran, then took on Denis O’Leary at number four. The energetic Armagh man was facing a Glenville player with tremendous touch and power, with O’Leary’s precise kill-shots giving him the first. Loughran then concentrated on moving his opponent around the court to win comfortably. The third game was very closely-contested, O’Leary’s razor-sharp volley kills vying with Loughran’s terrific reverse-boasts. It went all the way to a prolonged tiebreak which the CBS man won. It was a pivotal moment, and with Loughran now buoyed with confidence he took the 3-1 win.
Sean Talty was CBS number five, in opposition to Niall Gowen. This was a tremendously fast-paced match with both men hunting down their opponent’s good approach play. Gowen’s tactic of a soft return of serve low on the front wall, accompanied by a push up onto the ‘T’, was quite effective, while Talty’s raking diagonal drives often paid dividends. The opening games were shared. The hectic pace continued in the third with Talty’s good variety giving him a narrow win. Amid tiring legs, the Clarecastle man showed terrific composure to take early control in the fourth and, though Gowen’s committed play remained a real threat, Talty pushed on strongly for a 3-1 win and, not insignificantly, it secured the bonus points on the night.
The final match pitted Mike Curley against Glenville’s Andrew O’Callaghan at number two. The home player began brilliantly with power-packed driving and soft ‘hands’ to take an early lead. Curley then settled with some terrific lob serving and lovely sliced drops to get back into it. O’Callaghan was full of running but Curley’s half-line volleying was exemplary and he took the first. The Glenville man struck back with a 15/9 win in the second game, both men playing their part in intense rallies. Curley upped his standard with some good drops offering up multiple volleying opportunities on the ‘T’, though each point was hard-won against the durable Cork man. The CBS man edged that third game and then showed good fitness and intensity to push onwards deep into the fourth. O’Callaghan remained a very great threat in every rallies, but Curley was not to be denied for a memorable 3-1 win.
The intermediate scoreline in this semi-final is Ennis CBS 16 Glenville 7 – certainly the Co Clare team are under absolutely no illusions about the magnitude of the challenge they face when Glenville visit next week in the second leg. Thurles currently have the whip-hand in the other semi-final against Highfield but, again, much remains to be decided.
Dave Lawlor (TD), Michael Conlon (Winner O60) and Keith Moran (Sponsor)
Conlon Masters Connaught
Last weekend Salthill Galway hosted the Connaught Masters Open and Mike Conlon took top honours in the over sixty event. Conlon was seeded two and had a relatively easy passage to the semi-final where he met Eamonn O’Keeffe from the Sunday’s Well Club in Cork. Conlon was pushed to the pin of his collar to take the first game 12/10 and went two games up before conceding the third to O’Keeffe who was now putting on a surge to save the match. Conlon took control of the 4th game with precise volley drops to the front corners that proved to be a winning formula and ran out a three game to one winner to set up a final against James McSweeney from Cork.
The final proved to be a tough battle as the seasoned Mc Sweeney is known for his rugged play and steely determination on court.  However, Conlon took early control of the game and went into a two-game lead before Mc Sweeney got to grips with the tight corner to corner play of Conlon. Mc Sweeney produced some tremendous cross court forehand and straight drives that saw him take a commanding 7/3 lead. At this point it seemed as if Conlon had decided not to chase the game and so it proved as Conlon came back in full force in the fourth game to build up a 6/1 lead that he never let slip. Conlon won the fourth 11/6 to win 3-1. This result and a second-place finish in the Leinster Open puts Conlon at Irish number one until January at least when the Munster Masters Open is hosted in Cork.
Ennis CBS member, Jonathan Rabaey burnished his growing squash reputation with a winning performance in the Connacht Senior Open, held in Salthill recently. 
In the quarter final on Saturday morning, Rabaey faced local man Ronan Carey. This turned out to be a very tough encounter, going the distance to five games in an hour of play. The Ennis man won the first 11-7 before Carey retorted with wins to lead 2-1. Rabaey was under serious pressure in the fourth, down 8-4, before digging deep to level matters on an 11-9 scoreline. The Galway man kicked on again to lead in the decider but Rabaey’s fitness and stamina saw him win 11-9 for a tremendous victory. In the afternoon, Rabaey faced Mount Pleasant (Dublin) player Bernard Lee. This match was also fiercely contested with a hectic pace from the off. As before, the intensity and stamina of the young Ennis man was a telling factor in an 11-8 , 11-9 , 11-7 win to reach a unique final with CBS clubmate, Andy Loughran
The Armagh native had comprehensive victories in earlier rounds and was the marginal favourite in many eyes. Both players were tentative in the opening exchanges, before Loughran overturned an early deficit to win the first game. Rabaey emerged for the second  game in a focused and determined mood, and his good driving depth and precise drops saw him take control and go on to clinch the second and third game. The onus was now on Loughran to respond and, with characteristic grit, he made a valiant attempt to stem the tide. The fourth game was tense as the players had chances to gain primacy. In the end, the consistent drop shot execution of Rabaey gave him a critical edge and he ran out a 3-1 victory for his second provincial title of the season. 

It was an illustration, if one is needed, of the great potential of the new generation of Ennis CBS players and bodes well for the club’s present chances in Munster League action.

Ennis Finalists in Connacht Senior Open
Last week, Ennis CBS went in action on two fronts in the Munster League, with Division 3 hosting Sunday’s Well from Cork City on Wednesday:
First up, at number three, Martin Daly faced Eoin O’Toole of the visitors. O’Toole displayed ferocious, low power and sustained it throughout. Taking the ball early off the front wall, he surged into a 14-8 lead, before Daly launched an incredible comeback before an agonizing ‘tin’ at 13-14 ended his charge. Building on this, the CBS captain hit some excellent front-court boasts to gain an early advantage that resulted in a comfortable win for level pegging in the match. However, the powerful Cork man remained a potent threat with his hard, tight power and he went on to claim a 3-1 win.
At number two, Crusheen’s Paddy Vaughan had a memorable battle with Evan O’Connell. Some outstanding retrieval from both men was a typical characteristic of the rallies, with the scoring tight all the way. Vaughan, fresh from his extended hurling summer, just about had the ‘legs’ to fend off the stubborn challenge of O’Connell in three tight games.
Mike Brophy was number four, facing Sunday’s Well’s division 5 top seed Seamus Mulcahy. Though Mulcahy displayed strong technical ability, Brophy’s consistent striking and ability to lunge in late to reach ball proved to be enough for the win.
Ennis’ Marc O’Donnell had a 3-1 win over Barry Hackett at number five. The first game saw O’Donnell take control with patient rallying, interspersed with good diagonal driving. However, Hackett clawed his way back late on with some excellent drops and he took the win. Thereafter, O’Donnell held the upper hand with well-judged variety and good fitness and, though Hackett remained a threat, the CBS man took the win.
The top seed match had Newmarket’s Declan Devitt lining out against familiar visitor Glen Hackett. The Cork man settled quickly and kept the ball tight to the sides early on to take the first narrowly. Devitt then brought his touch-play to bear on proceedings with some unanswerable mid-court boasts to level matters. Hackett continued to play well, and games were extremely close, but the vast experience of Devitt saw him close out for a 3-1 win.
Overall, it was another encouraging night for Ennis CBS, though the customary strong challenges of Thurles and Highfield await in the coming weeks.
Solid return from testing trip to Tipp
On Friday night, the CBS’ Division 5 team travelled to Thurles for an important tussle with a direct rival for a semi-final spot.
In at number five was Sean Talty, facing Suzy Connors of the hosts. Connors was ultra-consistent, rallying the ball exceptionally well and it was a good test for the Clarecastle man. The Thurles player held a 2-3 point lead heading into double figures before some excellent athleticism by Talty swung the game his way by the slenderest of margins. The match continued to be very well-contested with long rallies and some excellent kill-shots by both players. In the end, the CBS man took a 3-0 win with all games having close finishes.
Andy Loughran was in opposition to Thurles’ PJ Hayes at number four. The Armagh man played a captain’s part for the CBS with an all-action display, coupled with some tremendous driving. Hayes was well-capable of delivering a powerful response and he troubled Loughran at times, but the CBS man drove on strongly for victory.
Colm Murphy came back in to face the Thurles number one, Gerry Connaughton, who brought his customary lob serve into telling effect in the opening game to win comfortably. Murphy then strove to volley-kill from the half-way line at every opportunity, proving enough to level it and take a slender lead into the latter stages of the third game. However, Connaughton used his craft and experience to edge that game and, in the fourth, his superbly-weighted lobs to the back wall forged a strong lead. At 7-13, Murphy launched a barrage of dropshots to briefly threaten but the Thurles man closed out with a deft boast on return of serve to win.
Mike Curley at number two, up against John Keane. This was a good contest between two powerful strikers of the ball, each adept at tight backhand driving under pressure. The initial games were shared before Keane’s accurate power from the front court edged him the third. Curley was undaunted and delivered some tremendous volleys and court coverage to stay in touch. However, Keane took what seemed to be an invincible 13-7 lead with some error-free touch play. In a superb fightback, Curley’s well-measured driving saw him bring it to a tiebreak which he was desperately unlucky to lose on a (fairly-called) ‘stroke’ at match-point.
Another Magpie, Garrett Barry, took on Thurles’ Sandra Walshe at number three in the order. Walshe had served notice in Ennis that she was a formidable player, capable of low power and with the ability to cover the ground when needed. The games involved lots of back-court driving and long, intense rallies with the early games shared. The later games continued at a frenetic pace and, this time, with home court advantage, the Thurles player managed to take the spoils.
The final tally was 12-9 to Thurles, a disappointment for Ennis CBS but not, at this juncture, a terminal blow as the two teams, plus Limerick Lawn, remain within a relative hair’s breath of each other with two nights remaining. The CBS face a double-header with North Cork’s Kilbrin and can still harbour hopes of claiming one of the two semi-final spots from this group.
The first of this-seasons Masters tournaments, the Leinster Open took place last weekend in the Fitzwilliam Club in Dublin. Mike Conlon from the Ennis CBS club was the sole representative from Clare and had a good opening event by getting to the final which he lost on a 3-1 score line to Dave Lalor from Galway. Conlon had a tough semi-final battle with Donal Caughlan from Cork and came back from 2-1 down to with out 3-2. That energy sapping match too its toll on Conlon and it was a factor in the final later that day. However, this is a good start to the season for Conlon and next up is the Connaught Open later this month.
Last Thursday, CBS hosted Thurles in Munster Squash League Div 5. Both teams, along with Limerick Lawn, are live contenders for one of the two semi-final berths available from this group.
At number five, Tom Halpin came in for his seasonal debut where he faced Suzy Connors of Thurles. Connors made a bright start, racing into a 4-0 lead, before the tactical acumen of Halpin came to the fore. Concentrating on some power-boasts, and with lots of serving variety, the CBS man managed to overturn the deficit to lead and then add a second game. The Thurles player then showed her excellent straight-driving abilities to closely-contest the third game, before a relieved Halpin held on 15-13 for a good 3-0 win.
At number one, Mike Curley took on the skilful veteran, Gerry Connaughton of Thurles. Both men had faced off in Division 4 last season, with the spoils evenly shared. The renowned lob serve of Connaughton loomed large in proceedings, as expected, with Curley seeking to deploy his power and pace to stretch the Thurles man. The touch play of Connaughton was superb in killing any loose returns, however Curley’s improved straight driving was an important factor in the match too. Games were shared but the vast experience of the Thurles man was enough on this occasion for a 3-1 win.
John Everard v PJ Hayes was the number four match. The Thurles man settled immediately, with good consistent technique driving him to a 15-9 win. Everard then began to deploy his excellent tight driving to good effect, developing opportunities to level the match on a similar score line. The match continued to be well-contested and there was ebb and flow before Everard took a good 3-1 win.
There were two fabulous contests to finish, the first one being the number three battle between Andy Loughran and Sandra Walshe. Walshe, an accomplished camogie player from Kilkenny, displayed an all-action, hard-hitting style to command a 14-10 lead in the first. Loughran dug deep to claw his way back and win a 17-15 tiebreak. Walshe was undaunted, driving on to a 14-9 lead in the second game which fell to her 15-13. The CBS man reverted to a front-court concentration in the next game and managed to re-take the lead on a 15-9 score. In the fourth game, Loughran took a seemingly-commanding 13-8 lead with some effective height into the back, before the Thurles player roared back into contention with clinical kill shots to lead 14-13. In a fraught tiebreak, the CBS captain won 17-15 to complete a 3-1 victory in what was a terrific contest.
The final match on the night saw Ennis CBS’ Garrett Barry take on John Keane. The Thurles man was quick out of the traps with some hugely-effective boasts from just behind the T, giving an early advantage that developed to a 15-11 win. In the second game, Barry’s consistent driving down the left began to pay dividends and he was a tad unlucky to be edged out 15-13. The tactical template of the Clarecastle man remained a back-left corner concentration and it proved sufficient, amid outstanding and lengthy rallies, to bring the match to a deciding fifth game. A memorable, stand-up, battle ensued for the decider with both men going point-for-point in punishing rallies to see them locked 10-10. Keane just had the edge with some terrific winners to take it 15-12, with the watching crowd showing their appreciation for two committed players.
In the end, Ennis CBS 15 Thurles 8 was the aggregate score and it leaves both clubs with genuine hopes of a ‘top two’ placing, notwithstanding the imposing spectre of Limerick Lawn who will also definitely challenge in the final shakeup
Last Thursday our Division 5 team travelled to the Ennis Rd for the return fixture with Limerick Lawn. The home side were greatly bolstered by the return of some higher seeds and it proved to be a testing night for the CBS.
First up for the visitors at number five was Clarecastle’s Sean Talty, making his Munster League debut against Declan Mannix. The Limerick Lawn man possessed tremendous power in his strokes and provided a significant obstacle on the T. However, the livewire Talty maintained a high tempo throughout and closed out for a valuable maiden victory.
Colm Murphy renewed acquaintance with Limerick Lawn’s Tomasz Kowalewski at number one. The early exchanges were even, however Murphy’s lob serves proved problematic in the unfamiliar surroundings and Kowalewski’s brisk efficiency gave him a comfortable win. Now attuned to the court, the CBS man delivered consistent ball to the back wall to give enough time on the T to forge a seemingly commanding 11-7 lead. Some blistering cross-courts then gave the Limerick man a 13-11 lead before Murphy’s tight driving pipped him 15-13. The remaining games were keenly contested, point-for-point, but Kowalewski closed out 15-13, 15-12 for a 3-1 win.
John Everard’s performance was hugely significant for the CBS, facing Jan Kubik. The Limerick Lawn man’s consistent play saw him establish an early stranglehold and the situation looked dire for Everard at 0-2, 11-14 in the third. The CBS man managed to save those three match points to prolong his challenge. The rallies continued to be keenly contested with both men displaying technical strength and intensity. Everard held on for a famous victory, and one that was vital on the night.
Andy Loughran pushed up to number three this time, facing the experience of Thomas Fitzgough of Limerick Lawn. The technically-adept Fitzgough presented a formidable challenge for the CBS captain, with tight driving and touch-play testing Loughran. The first two games fell to the home player before the CBS man redoubled his efforts in the third. Good driving from Loughran, allied to some superb boast-kills, saw him in touch as double-figures loomed but the calm efficiency of Fitzgough could not be denied in the end.
Mike Curley was at two, with another new opponent in Garry Mullaly. The Limerick man gave evidence of well-honed technique and confident killing to take a 2-0 lead. Curley’s excellent straight driving and intensity in the third game saw him establish a bridgehead in the match. As the fourth unfolded, the players were locked together with Curley’s power and pace alternating with the smooth strokes of Mullaly. In a desperately close finish, the CBS man was just pipped to the post for a 3-1 win for the hosts.
The overall significance of Limerick Lawn’s 14-8 win is that they trail the CBS by 8 points in the group. However, it is clear that the Limerick outfit can call on a strong ‘first five’ and they certainly will be in the mix when the group stages conclude in late November. 

Next up a testing double-fixture with perennial challengers, Thurles!
Club member Jonathan Rabaey journeyed to Waterford for the Munster Senior Squash Open recently. Seeded number 5 in his section, the young Ennis man went undefeated throughout the weekend to underline his continuing upward curve.

On the Friday night match  night, he took on Brian O’Connor in what turned out to be a testing 5-setter in Dunhill. In sharp contrast to the searing heat of Ennis’ courts, Rabaey faced relatively cool temperatures and had to adapt quickly. However, his drive and focus was excellent and he managed to close out that match 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 9-11 , 11-6, seeing him through to the semi on Saturday evening. There, he faced top seed Maurice Hartery. Rabaey took the first game comfortably and continued to maintain his intensity for a 3-0 win.
On to the final on Sunday at noon in Celtic Squash club, facing the host’s Brian Whitty. Understandably tentative initially, Rabaey wasn’t long settling down to a steady rhythm and he took the first 11-3, playing some beautiful shots down the wall and into the corners. With his accurate straight driving down the left and right, allied to his drops which were exceptional, the Ennis man won the remaining games 11-9, 11-7 to claim his Munster title. It was a brilliant triumph and one which will also encourage many CBS youngbloods into launching their own Munster adventures.

Jonathan Rabaey
The Munster Squash Leagues commenced last week for our Divisions 3 and Division 5 Teams. First up were the higher team facing Limerick Lawn in Ennis on Wednesday. Missing three genuine first-choice players, there was some trepidation in CBS ranks about team prospects. 
The top seed match saw Lissycasey’s Martin Daly take on Liam O’Byrne of the visitors. O’Byrne settled quickly to take the first before Daly increased his intensity to level it. Further games were swapped, with O’Byrne excellent touchplay vying with Daly’s unrelenting power, before the CBS captain’s determined play saw him run out a convincing winner in the deciding fifth game.
At number five, there was an epic encounter between Colum Gavin and Tomasz Kowalewski, who also doubles up at number one seed in Limerick Lawn’s Division 5 squad. The opening game was point-for-point all the way until Gavin edged home 15-13 with some tight driving at the death. Kowalewski was undaunted and took the second on an identical scoreline. Lengthy rallies on almost every point were draining the two men as they reached a third game tiebreak which eventually fell to Gavin 19-17. The Limerick Lawn player pegged him back again before the Ennis CBS man took the fifth with a quick burst to establish an unassailable lead.
At number two, Mike Brophy took on Barry Hession of the visitors. Brophy’s trademark consistent retrieval under fierce pressure, allied to improved front-court killing, saw him take the first. Hession, whose sweet striking was a constant threat, brought his top-level experience to bear in taking a closely-fought second. The huge effort which this necessitated, unfortunately caused the withdrawal of the Limerick man at that stage.
Conor Plunkett at number three was up against Kevin Gaffney. The games were uniformly tight, with advantage alternating between the two until they reached the deciding game. The CBS man managed to dig out an excellent win and continued his good form of last season.
At number four, making his league debut for the club was Leo Frawley with CJ Kelly providing the opposition. The Clarecastle man’s touchplay was superb, though Kelly was equally adept in that department and, almost inevitably, this match once again went the distance. Frawley’s tremendous effort just fell short on this occasion as the Limerick man showed good energy to take the fifth.
Overall, it was a terrific start to the campaign, demonstrating good squad depth.

Our Division 5 squad opened their account with a home fixture against Limerick Lawn last Thursday.
John Everard was at number five, playing Ger O’Donnell of the visitors. O’Donnell packed a ferocious punch, pushing Everard back into the corners initially. Everard managed to steady the ship with some tremendous tight drives down the left to wrest back the initiative and take the first 15-12. The second game fell to Everard whose control of the T was excellent. However, O’Donnell was still striking the ball with power and control and the third game was extremely closely fought. Despite a tremendous late surge by the Limerick man, the match went to the home side 3-0.
Ennis CBS’ number two seed, Mike Curley, faced John Herbert. Herbert was technically adept, striking well from both back corners and the rallies were often extended. Curley maintained his consistency throughout the game with his pace and power proving a winning combination on a 3-0 scoreline.
Andy Loughran and Garrett Barry, respectively four and three on the CBS team, are players of pace and energy and this was crucial in superb wins over Declan Mannix and Jan Kubik to establish a 16-0 lead on the night. 
Colm Murphy was top seed facing Tomasz Kowalewski, who was making his second visit on successive nights, having played for Limerick Lawn’s Division 3 team against Ennis CBS. Kowalewski settled quickly, with his excellent boasts proving a trump card on more than one occasion. The second game was much closer but the visitor’s power and speed around the court was enough to take it 15-11. The CBS man then managed to counter with a sustained burst of dropshot winners giving him a 15-5 win. Murphy managed to transfer this into a 5-0 fourth game lead but Kowalewski turned the table with some withering cross-court power of his own and good volley kills from loose cross-shots. It remained tight into double figures but the Pole ran out 3-1 winner in the end. 
Notwithstanding that disappointment, the overall team result was an excellent 17-3 win, though that joy must necessarily be tempered by the reality that the visitors may be stronger in their own lair this week.
Meanwhile, the opening Blitz of the year was held last Friday. A good attendance, well-marshalled by organiser Clive Morgan, displayed some great squash. Sean Talty’s energetic play gave him a win over Mike Brophy, while Lachezar Kroezhev gave evidence of his major improvement with a determined challenge to both Marc and Gerry O’Donnell. Joe Whelan’s piledriver serve got an outing, with some good wins for the Doonbeg man. Francie O’Halloran’s excellent blend of touch and power claimed some significant scalps, while JP Sullivan, Viachaslau Chechun, JJ Tobin and Noel O’Callaghan showed their worth.
The most noteworthy contests involved the respective performances of recently-joined Spanish duo, Miguel Yepes and Alejandro Guijarro. The quicksilver and skilful pair showed incredible potential, winning many high-octane duels on the night. In the end, Clive Morgan’s win over Mike Brophy set up a final joust with Marc O’Donnell who saw off his namesake Gerry in a high-energy semi-final. Morgan’s ingrained consistency made up the steep handicap to claim another Blitz, and also carried off the Joe Whelan Trophy for the hugely-popular One-Rally Championship

With an expected early October launch date, the club has entered two teams in Munster League competition. While provincial behemoths like Highfield and Thurles are expected to be strong in all divisions, there has been a tremendous expansion in involvement by previously dormant rural clubs, such as Glenville and Kilworth, adding flavour to the competition.
We've assembled a solid squad of ten for Division Three, led by experienced sportsmen David Forde, Martin Daly and Paddy Vaughan and buttressed by no less than four strong Clarecastle players (Cathal Lynch, Conor Plunkett, Declan and Leo Frawley). Further quality is provided by Mike Brophy, Colum Gavin and Marc O’Donnell. In a very competitive segment of the League but hopes are high that Ennis CBS can be in the shake-up come December.
For the first time, the club will enter a team in Division Five. Last year’s all-conquering Division Six squad will form the nucleus of this squad, augmented by players with higher level experience in Colm Murphy and Mike Curley and the addition of yet another Magpie in Sean Talty. It is hoped that this might be a good blend to maintain a challenge against a packed field of perhaps ten clubs across Munster.

With membership rolls continuing to be fill, it’s almost time for the internal Ladder competition which will run monthly to next May. Offering four guaranteed matches per month, graded to ability, it has proved the engine by which new members, especially, have found a structure to enjoy and improve rapidly. Typically, there are 60 players in five-player divisions and new entrants are always facilitated.

Some intrepid members have been competing in national tournaments – Masters international Mike Conlon and Division Five captain, Andy Loughran, trekked to the Curragh Open and performed creditably against a high-calibre field. Ennis man, Jonathan Rabaey, returned to the scene of his excellent victory last year with a trip to Gleneagles for the Killarney Open – this time in the higher ‘D’ grade and secured a great third spot finish.
Recently the club hosted a selection from Galway L.T.C.. With the clubs operating in different provincial leagues, it was a great chance for the CBS players to test themselves with Munster League competition just a month away.
First on court for the CBS was Kildysart’s Gerry O’Donnell facing Ronan Carey. This was a highly entertaining battle with Carey possessing explosive power and O’Donnell bringing his typically crisp striking to the fore. The games were closely fought on the scoreboard but the CBS man had the edge in consistency to win out. Also on the early kick-off, the ever-improving Mike Brophy took on skilful Masters player, Pat Hanley, of Galway LTC. Brophy started well, his ability to stretch into the four corners proving a boon, and he took the first. Hanley then brought his well-honed technique into play to level matters. Brophy continued to maintain a fast pace and, along with excellent consistency, he took the match.
Other matches that resulted in CBS wins included Alan Guinane, Colm Murphy, Pat McCagh and Michael Curley over, respectively, Domhnall O’Connor, Daniel Allen, Paul Naughton and Luke Murphy.
The eagerly awaited advent of the Frawley Twins return to competitive action was a highlight of the night. Declan took on Dave Lalor of Galway LTC in the searing heat of Court 3, with the Clarecastle man deploying his all-action, power-driven game to good effect. Lalor displayed excellent technical ability, troubling Frawley throughout, but the CBS man’s determined performance could not be denied. Leo Frawley had a titanic battle with the visitors’ Aidan Power, with both men showing a tremendous facility with drop-kills. It went down to the very end of the fourth game before Power pipped the CBS man 15-13.
Regular Munster League players David Forde and Oisin Casey had contrasting fortunes, with Casey’s tremendous driving and volley-kills giving him the upper hand on Robert Reilly, while Forde had to give best in a tough battle with Eoin Lynch.
This left three mouth-watering contests at the top of the order. First up, regular guest at Ennis CBS, Neil Brannigan of the Curragh Club took on the promising young tyro from Galway, Niall Brennan. This was a tremendous contest with the well-trained Brennan providing durable in the rallies, while Brannigan’s powerful strokes were very well judged throughout. Brannigan took the win, while Brennan (17) is definitely one to watch.
Local favourite, Fergie O’Loughlin, took on Andre Davis. Davis, well experienced on the National circuit, settled well and took the first. Then, the Clarecastle man began to dominate, combining powerful cross-courts and concise touch-play to level matters. The games remained very competitive but O’Loughlin just had the edge in terms of precision to take an excellent 3-1 win.
The final match saw regular visitor, Keith Moran, tog out for the CBS taking on the might of John Rooney of Galway LTC. As you would expect, the standard was superb with both men parrying the ferocious driving of the other, while peppering the play with inch-perfect drops. Rooney won out in the end, the large crowd showing their appreciation for their sterling efforts.
Overall, it was a great chance for Ennis CBS to foster links with a neighbouring club and, certainly, it proved a terrific starting-gun to the new season!
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