Aughavas’ John Finnegan enjoyed a successful international badminton debut last weekend in Barcelona when he and doubles partner Jack O’Brien won their way out of their qualifying group at the Catalunia Under 19 Open.
John and Jack were the only members of the Irish boy’s team to make it into the knockout stage of the competition which attracted entries from Ireland, the UK, France, Portugal, Italy, and Spain This was quite an achievement as they were in the same qualifying group as the Spanish number one seeds.
In the knockout stages, the west of Ireland pair reached the quarter-final where they were beaten by the eventual runners up, another Spanish partnership.
Earlier in the day, John was drawn in a very tough singles qualifying group with the number one Portuguese entry, the Spanish number six seed as well as another Spanish player. It was a tough introduction to international singles as he had to play the two seeded opponents first.
Though he put up fierce resistance, John went down in two sets to them both. However, in his final group match he won an epic 50 minute three setter 21-17, 21-23, 21-15 to register his first ever international win.
Speaking at the end of a very long day, John said ‘It took a while to get used to the speed of the shuttle in the heat, and the power of some of these guys was phenomenal but I felt I improved as the day went on and learnt a lot from it.”
Overall it was an excellent international debut particularly when it is taken into account that this was an Under 19 competition and John has only just turned 16. John would like to thank all those who sent good luck cards and messages of support and those who helped him to get this far, in particular Leitrim, Ballinamore and Sligo badminton clubs.