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Table toppers Ulster set for clean sweep

By Frank Brownlow

Published 15/04/2015

Rising stars: 15-year-old twins Zak and Thomas Earley (Malone College) from the Ormeau club with eight-year-old sister Sophie (Cranmore Integrated Primary)
Rising stars: 15-year-old twins Zak and Thomas Earley (Malone College) from the Ormeau club with eight-year-old sister Sophie (Cranmore Integrated Primary)

Ulster are in pursuit of an inter-pro clean sweep in Cork this weekend, having already grabbed Senior, Masters and Under 21 honours in Dublin.

Ulster fielded four national winners in the Senior side - women's Senior champion Ashley Givan, Junior champions Hannah Lynch-Dawson and Zak Wilson, plus Senior runner-up and Under 21 winner Ashley Robinson - as Ulster beat rivals Leinster 6-3.

Peter Graham was the hero, defeating Leinster's Slovakian star Vladislav Agurjanovs.

The Ulster Triple Crown was claimed after a period of 21 years.

The Masters side paved the way, led by undefeated Daryl Strong, and included Willy Cherry, Pat McLaughlin, 23-times capped Norman Nabney, Gillian Richardson and new cap Valerie Roleston from Omagh.

Arthur Brett drew on all of his immense coaching experience to guide the youthful Ulster Under 21 squad to a surprise victory in Dublin.

Top performer was Zak Earley (15) - undefeated in the four-province event - who was ably supported by Kris Foster, Aditya Subramani, Erin Thompson and Annalise Walker.

The Ulster Junior squads at Under 18, Under 15 and Under 13 levels are buoyed by the presence of Irish Junior No. 1 Zak Wilson (Civil Service) and National U15 champion Owen Cathcart (Ormeau), fresh from silver medal success in Slovakia.

The pair are the hottest property in Irish table tennis for years.

Irish Junior Girls winner Hannah Lycnh-Dawson (Cavan) is on senior duty in Luxembourg - along with Ulster High Performance Coach John Murphy - and misses the Cork challenge.

The youngest player in Cork will be eight-year-old Sophie Earley on her second outing for Ulster U13s, and she is joined by her 15-year-old brother Thomas - who is on the U18 side - with his twin Zak ineligible due to his U21 call-up.

Ulster Squad:

U13 Girls: Lucy Craig, Sophie Earley, Lucy Johnston (NPC Ann Ludlow)

U15 Girls: Erin Pyper, Emma Kee, Lydia McConkey (NPC Jennifer Thompson)

U18 Girls: Emma McSorley, Rebecca Finn, Laura Finn (NPC Arthur Brett)

U13 Boys: Matthew Cherry, Matthew McClimonds, Julian Kelly, Joel Smith, James Skelton (NPC Gervis Knox)

U15 Boys: Owen Cathcart, James Magrath, Conor Nugent, Ethan Duffy (NPC Keith Knox)

U18 Boys: Zak Wilson, Ryan McConkey, Eric Shekleton, Thomas Earley (NPC Andrew Loane)

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