Bettystown hosts Tokyo Olympic volleyball qualifying series at weekend

Story by John Donohoe

Wednesday, 29th May, 2019 5:57pm

Bettystown hosts Tokyo Olympic volleyball qualifying series at weekend

Izzy Carey (left) and Alex Graves will be competing for Ireland in Bettystown.

Volleyball Ireland has announced the four pairings that will compete in this weekend’s Continental Cup at Bettystown.

The event which is part of the Tokyo Olympic Qualifying Series features both male and female teams from across Europe. In the Men’s draw Ireland will take on Scotland, Lithuania and Ukraine which each Nation fielding two teams. In the Women’s side there are high hopes for the team of Isabelle Carey and Alex Graves who will compete against the highly rated Denmark, Estonia and Slovakia. 

Carey is coming off the back of a hugely successful NCAA College career in California where she has captained UCLA to an unbeaten season. She also picked up the prestigious PAC-10 Student-Athlete of the Year Award. Her partner, Graves is transitioning from the Indoor Court where she recently represented Ireland in the Small Countries Championship in Luxembourg. The UCD Hitter said: “I’m really excited to play with Izzy this week, we won the Battle for the Bay Tournament last week and we are building a nice rapport. Hopefully we can play the underdog card well and pull off a shock.”

The experienced due of Miriam Gormally and Marie-Claire Sobagal will play for Team 2. 

International Tour player Oisin Mcardle is back in Ireland to represent his home nation where he will team up with Australian based Alex Gibbobns. McArdle commented, “It’s great to be back in Ireland and pulling on the green jersey. I’m looking forward to getting up to the Boyne Valley and representing my country.”

Each nation plays their A team against their rivals A team, whilst the B teams also face off. If, after these games the score is 1 each a golden match takes place. The tournament format is high stakes with a double elimination knock out structure.

Lining up for Ireland will be;

Women’s Team 1
Isabelle Carey
Alex Graves
Women’s Team 2
Miriam Gormally
Marie-Claire Sobagal

Men’s Team 1 
Alex Gibbons
Oisin McArdle
Men’s Team 2
Benny O’Regan 
Greg Kaczmarek

Volleyball Ireland said that the Economic Development wing of Meath County Council is supporting the upcoming #RoadtoTokyo International Beach Volleyball Tournament at Bettystown.

The partnership will see the Flavours of Boyne Valley and #MakeItMeath branding at the Continental Cup event which will be communicated to over 250,000 people across Europe and beyond.  With teams coming from Slovakia, Lithuania, Denmark, Estonia, Scotland, Ukraine and the hosts Ireland, the tourism industry on the North East coast will gain International exposure.

Grainne Culliton, President of Volleyball Ireland said: “The Council have been incredibly supportive of this huge Volleyball event and we are delighted to be able to showcase Meath and the Boyne Valley to our guests and viewers. It is a spectacular region and the perfect location for Beach Volleyball. We are delighted local shops, restaurants and hotels are getting involved in the event, it’s been really positive working with the community of Laytown and Bettystown.”

Kevin Stewart, the Director of Services Planning, Enterprise & Environment commented: “Meath County Council is delighted to be associated with this prestigious international event. We look forward to welcoming everyone to Meath and the Boyne Valley for what is sure to be a great weekend of sport and enjoyment.” The event will also see school blitzes, teacher training and beginner classes for adults from Thursday onwards.

The matches feature both Men’s and Women’s pools with the winners in each progressing to the next stage of Olympic qualifying ahead of the Tokyo Games next Summer. It is one of the first team based Olympic qualifiers to be held in the country and the players can’t wait to get going. Marie-Claire Sobogal of the Women’s team added. “We’ve taken our National Tour event to Bettystown Beach for a few years now and it’s been a great place to play with quality sand and relatively sheltered by the spectacular sand dunes. There aren’t many better places to play Volleyball.”

The games will be on from 11am to 7pm on both Saturday and Sunday with come try it courts available and skills sessions for kids on across the weekend.

The nets are open this evening for locals to come along and learn how to play with the experts. Volleyball Ireland has also joined forces with local primary schools and 300 children are expected to make their way to Bettystown over two days to experience the sport first hand. Volleyball Ireland General Manager, Gary Stewart says it's important to involve people in the community. 

"It's not very often an Olympic qualifier comes to Ireland in any sport so it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to see this.  International athletes from across Europe will be there. Come down, have a look, give it a go,

"We will have coaches and development officers at hand. It's nothing too intense, a few easy drills, explain the basics of it, have a few games and have a bit of fun for an hour or so.

"We are also working with the primary schools today and tomorrow, we have 300 children coming down over two days. 

"We are trying to develop the sport and we are seeing children as the future. We have been working with the local schools, upskilling and training them because we want to develop clubs and volleyball activity in Meath. It's a really great sport for developing physical literacy and fundamental movement skills as there is lots of throwing, catching, hitting, agility, balance and coordination so it's great for kids to be involved."




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