Review of 2004
2004 turned out to be a successful year for Northern Ireland Table Football Association. The Belfast Barbarians & North Down Clubs continued to grow and they each hosted two National Events. The North Down Open of Donaghadee was on 7th February. It attracted 21 players, including our friends from the South. Belfast's Kenny Beggs won the Open Final 3-1 against home player, Davy Clegg. Junior winner was Ballyclare's Jamie Lewis and Belfast Barbarians were the team winners.
Barbarians hosted the Dunmurry Open in March which was won by Republic of Ireland player, Gary Moore, with a 2-0 Final victory over Belfast's Simon Stewart. Barbarians' Georgia Lee had a double triumph, taking the Junior & Ladies titles. There was further Southern success as the Nomadic Celts won the team event.
In June, the focus turned towards the UK & Ireland Internationals in Preston. England won, as expected, but there was a hot battle for Runner-up, which came down to the match between the two Irelands. The Republic edged it 3-2 to leave Northern Ireland in 3rd place. The Individual Championship was won by England's Shorab Jadunandan. Northern Irish interest ended in the Quarter-Finals but it was a very enjoyable weekend and it should pave the way for the 2005 Championships in Kildare.
The showpiece Northern Ireland event of the year, the National Championships, took place at Dunmurry in September. Kenny Beggs just about retained his title with a shoot-out victory against Barry Spence in the Final. Davy Clegg was Veteran Champion and newcomer, Peter Morrison, became Junior Champion, a noteworthy achievement as he only turned up on the day after hearing a BBC Radio Ulster Preview. Team Champions were Belfast Barbarians.
Onto October and the Bangor Open, which attracted three Scottish competitors from the Birkhill Club, as well as the usual Northern & Southern Irish participants. It was victory again for Gary Moore who beat Scotland's Iain Bell in the Final. Another Scot, Dean Aitken, took the Under 19 title, while Peter Morrison added to his Northern Ireland Championship success by lifting the Junior trophy. Davy Clegg won the Veteran title with a Final victory over Iain Bell.
2004 saw the commencement of the Irish Premier League, with 7 entrants from Northern Ireland & 5 from Republic of Ireland. Previously, the IPL Club had been formed for the purpose of entering a team at FISTF events but membership has now grown to justify having a full league programme.
Towards the end of the year, Trevor Cummings made a welcome return. The 1992 & 1994 Northern Ireland Champion now plays for Yorkshire Phoenix and he made his mark by finishing 3rd in the Witton Albion Open in November and winning the Yorkshire Open in December.
There was also a lot of travelling done by Northern Ireland players to International Opens & Grand Prix in Rep of Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales & Belgium.
We look forward to 2005 with much optimism. Major Events will be the Belfast Grand Prix (May 14th), to be held in W5 Discovery Centre; the UK & Ireland Internationals in Kildare (July 2nd/3rd) & the World Cup in Belgium (Aug 27th/28th). There will be qualifying events to determine representatives for the latter two tournaments, so get practising if you are able to travel on those dates. Have a great, finger-flicking 2005 .....