Tournament & Event Reports For 2011

Munster Championships

This year’s IUTF Munster Championships were held in new Venue, still in Tralee, but in the Tralee Sports Complex. This larger venue provided ample space for the event. Galway students were extremely successful with virtually competitor placing. Connacht Instructors Mr Fitzgibbon, Ms. Connolly, Mrs. Mannion, Mrs and Mr. Doyle, worked tirelessly as usual to help provide a enjoyable tournament for all. Most Galway black belts had shirt and tie at the ready to assist in the competition when they themselves were finished. Galway results were:

Brendan Kenny (Galway)- Gold x 2

Shane Rabbitte (Galway) - Gold, bronze

Kevin Rabbitte (Galway)- Bronze

Oisin Higgins (Gort) - Silver

Donagh Coffey (Galway)- Gold

Adam Rowan (Oranmore)

Fionn O' Flaherty (Oranmore) - Gold, silver

Cathal Casey (Gort) - Gold, Silver

Cathal Kilbane(Galway) - bronze

Jacob Rafferty (Galway) - Gold

Matthew O' Boyle (Oranmore)

Daire Madden (Oranmore) - bronze

Robert Walsh (Oranmore) - Gold, Bronze

Blackrock Taekwon-do Championships

This annual event in the Taekwon-do Ireland calendar was as per usual run efficiently and effectively. Ms Connolly travelled to Cork with seven Galway students. Not everyone placed, but all performed with 100% effort and did their instructors proud. The results were:

Cathal Casey (Gort) - Gold   

Oisin Higgins (Gort) - silver


Open European Championships


IUTF Cork Championships


Master Barat Seminar


Black Belt Grading


Leinster Championships


Full-time facility opens in Galway


PUMA Open Black Belt World Championships


Connacht Championships


Ms. McHugh Scales Mt. Kilimanjaro


Blackrock Championships


Munster Championships

Ms. McHugh Scales Mt. Kilimanjaro

Ms. Yvonne McHugh, (student of Ms. Connolly), and her partner, Mr. Adrian Fehily recently scaled the famous Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Below is a report from her in her own words. Well done to them both, we are proud to be associated with them.

Got up at 07.00hrs as bags had to be packed & ready for the road at 08.30. The bus brought us to Machame Park Gate. I was eager to get it nerves, fear of the unknown... We commenced ascent entering lush rainforest almost immediately in aim of reaching Machame Camp (2980m). Hiking Time:7 hrs Distance 18kms. Arrived at Camp 1, good & sweaty but still grand out. Everyone good & still cracking jokes. A bit tired but not too bad. The Porters arrived at camp long before we did & set up Camp for us, boiled drinking & washing water & the cook prepared dinner. Night temperatures dropped to freezing point.

Night 1: Slept about 2 hrs, between the farting & the snoring, it was difficult.

Day 2: We departed for Shira Camp (3840m). We were hiking for 6hrs covering a distance of approx. 9kms. We continued up an ascending path, crossing a little valley walking along a steep rocky ridge, covered with Heather until the ridge ended. The route then turned onto a river gorge at 3,658m. After lunch/rest we continued up a rocky ridge onto the Shira Plateau.
Night 2: Slept fairly well on + off. The night at this exposed camp was even colder than previous night with Temperatures dropping well before freezing.

Day 3: Woke at 07.40. It was freezing . Packed up bags, washed, had breakfast - had porridge, 1 sausage + spanish omelette. Departed at 08.55 for Barangu Camp. We climbed high today 4600m + sleep low (3900m). Today was an absolute nightmare. On the ascent, with just 15 minutes to 4600m, altitude sickness kicked in. I thought my head was going to burst the pressure was so bad. It came on suddenly. Took a break, it was killing me. I was so upset. Adrian (my other half!!) + Ellie (African leader) stayed with me. Made it to 4600m but suffered. Adrian also had a very bad headache. He was suffering from lack of sleep too. Today was our longest day. We travelled 12kms.
Night  3: Went to bed after dinner at 9pm. Wrecked tired. Had Spaghetti Bolognese for dinner! Slept on+ off throughout the night. It was very very cold.
Day 4: We climbed to 4000m which took us 6 hrs through semi - desert. Everyone felt good today. Headache's have disappeared and everyone is looking forward to a good meal, rest & tomorrow. We are all a bit nervous & excited. It rained very heavy today. I broke my sunglasses today!
To go to the toliet here is an experience!! You have to squat over this hole in the ground approx. 0.5ft x 0.5 ft. I suppose its a great practice aim for the guys. Each time I went to use it I thought I would get sick.
Day 5: We hiked to 4550m today. One of the guys is experiencing bad altitude sickness but the guides are confident that rest & a good meal will have him fit for tonights attempt on summit. Its Snowing now!
Night 5: The camp here is bleak. Tents are pitched on a narrow, stony & potentially dangerous ridge if you don't take time to familiarise yourself with the terrain before dark. We set out for the summit at 12 midnight. This 7.5hrs was the most mentally & physically challenging part of my time on Mount Kilimanjaro. We were all allocated as to where to stand in the walking line with the sickest/slowest at the front. At the summit, the reward awaitied us, the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see.
It was a fantastic achievement. I made it to the summit after what can only be described as a tough, tough night. At the top we celebrated with everyone hugging & kissing! After about an hour on the summit & taking photos we descended down to Barufu Camp 4,600m (15,333 ft) which took us 4 hours. We were exhausted. We had lunch there & slept for 1 hour. Then, we had to set off again & descend for another 3 hours. We had now treked for 14.5 hours with just 1 hour sleep. We stayed at Mweka Camp, had dinner & a couple of beers. Got up next morning for our final descent to base hotel.

Connacht Championships

This year’s Connacht Championships were held once again in Gort. With six rings running all day, the tournament was indeed one of the most successful events to date. The tournament kicking off at 9.15am for the Black Belts, and with staggered starting times for the colour belts, waiting times was very little. The entire event was finished by 3.15pm leading to praise on the efficiency of the competition by parents and students alike. Galway members cleaned up with many students taking two medals home. All students now look forward to the next major event - Leinster Championships, with anticipation.

PUMA Open Black Belt World Championships

Report by Brendan Kenny (15-year old black belt)

Full-Time Martial Arts Centre opens in Galway

Mr. Fitzgibbon and Ms. Connolly opened the first Full-time Taekwon-do centre in the West of Ireland on March 24th. Purpose-built for martial arts and fitness training it is now one of the premier dojangs in the country. The facilities include: 1,600 ft2  training area, shower room in both ladies and gents changing area, waiting room for parents/visitors with window offering full view of the dojang, instructors' office, Kitchen area. “We look forward to the future with even more enthusiasm with our new dojang.”

The address of the Connacht Taekwon-do Academy is Unit 7, Glenrock Business Park, Ballybane Industrial Estate, Galway.

On a Thursday, the 17th of March a group from Ireland travelled to Swindon, London to compete at the first ever PUMA Open World Championships. The group was made up of people from Galway, Kerry, Cork, Limerick and Athlone. The team of competitors and supporters gathered at Rosslare Harbour to board the ferry to Fishgaurd.

 After a three hour ferry journey we arrived at Fishguard, where we got the coach to Swindon. What was a four hour bus journey felt like a four minute journey with the fun, company and the sing along with Mr. Fitzgibbon and his guitar.

We arrived at the hotel on the Friday evening, once we arrived everyone checked into their rooms and went to weigh in after weigh in we got something to eat. I felt excited ahead of competition the next day.

On Saturday there was an early start. After breakfast everyone travelled on the bus to the Oasis Leisure, where the tournament was being held. Proceedings began with opening words from Master Gayle, the man who organised the tournament after the opening words there was two demonstrations one from a gymnastics team and another from a Taekwon-Do demo team. The individual events got under way shortly after the opening ceremony. There were some great results for Irish competitors with most competitors placing individual. However the evening was one of my highlights of the whole weekend because the junior team events were on. Both Irish patterns teams did very well with the boys team wining silver and the girls wining bronze. Following team patterns there was team sparring, the support from the crowd for both teams was amazing and hearing the songs and chants before sparring is a great confidence boost.  Again both teams did very well with the girls wining gold and boys wining silver. After the long day we all got back on the bus and went back to the hotel. It had been a long yet a fantastic day.

The following day the Sunday, was the adults turn and all adults were hungry for victory following the great results from the day before. The atmosphere again was amazing. Many adults won gold medals in both sparring and patterns individually. The Irish crowd got behind all Irish fighters but the atmosphere was especially electric for one of Irelands most popular fighters Mr. Leon Brydone, who after some very tough fights and a final that went to two extra times went on to win the gold medal. In the evening there were the adult team events. The men’s patterns team won bronze. The team sparring was next and there was a great atmosphere  for the final between Ireland and England with great support for both teams. It was a fantastic final which after a draw went to an extra fight, Ireland came out on top. It was a great way to finish an amazing weekend.

I would like to thank all the coaches from Ireland for all help and advice and a big thank you to Masters Black, Gayle and Ogbourne of England for organising the event.  

Leinster Championships

Mrs Mary Mannion hosted this year’s Leinster Championships in Athlone.  The standard was extremely high, and this year a number of junior black belts got to cut their teeth by assisting with officiating. This will stand to them as competitors as judges further down the line. The Galway results were:

Ms. Lisa Connolly (Galway) - Gold

Matthew O' Boyle (Galway) - Silver & Bronze

Brian O' Boyle (Galway) - Bronze x 2

Adam Rowan (Galway) - Silver x 2

Kate Rowan (Galway) - Silver, Bronze

Charlie Black (Galway) - Gold x 2

Maclaine Black (Gort) - Gold & Silver

Jacob Rafferty-Greene (Galway) - Silver, Bronze

New Black Belts for Galway

As part of the launch of Galway’s new full-time Taekwon-do centre, the IUTF annual black belt grading was held in this premier facility. The day started with National Squad Training which put all the attendees through their paces. IUTF chairperson and Chief Instructor, Master Dalton focused on hand sparring drills in this session as well the correct chamber and foot position for Side Piercing Kick.

Next was a closed grading for 4th dan level. The testees were Mr. John Roche (Tralee) and Ms. Claire O’ Sullivan (Caherciveen). Both were successful and add to the impressive list of international instructors in the IUTF.

The 1st-3rd degree black belt grading opened shortly after with all students thoroughly examined on all aspects of Taekwon-do including, patterns, fundamental movements, sparring drill, self-defence, refereeing, power breaking and intensive theory test. Happily, all were successful in their endeavours.

The Galway promotions were:

Cillian Howard - 2nd dan

Donagh Coffey - 2nd dan

Aoife O’ Farrell - 1st dan

Daire Madden - 1st dan

Matthew O’ Boyle - 1st dan

Adam Rowan - 1st dan

Ethan Flanagan - 1st dan

Master Barat Seminar

Connacht Taekwon-do Academy hosted a sparring seminar with Master Ebel Barat from Argentina in May. The South American instructors knowledge was so impressive that before even the warm-up was finished all students present knew this was going to be something special. Master Barat explained the importance and value of “knowing what is happening in  the ring,” I.e. where oneself and the opponent is positioned, what scores the judges are likely to award based on viewing angle, and how to use the rules to your advantage.

In terms of exercises, he worked on a variety of stepping and counter-attacking drills that will leave instructors and students alike dissecting the material for months afterward. It was truly a unique event. Master Barat, who was hosted by Master Dalton then went on to Tralee to give a second seminar.

IUTF Cork Championships

The first ever  IUTF Cork Taekwon-do Championships was a roaring success. Thanks to the excellent organisation of the event by Mr. Darren Healy and Mr. Alan Walsh, in conjunction with Master Dalton, it ran without a hitch.

Adding to the prestige of the event was the presence of twenty Argentinean competitors who accompanied Master Barat. While many of the Irish competitors are World-class the Argentinean contingent certainly kept them on their toes. The standard overall was extremely high with some terrific display of patterns skill and sparring expertise on display.

The highlight of the day for many was the team even of Irish select Vs. Argentina select. Both teams were  altered from  their original lineup due to injuries but nonetheless put on a fabulous contest ending in an exciting tie-break match that ultimately went to Argentina.

It was a hugely successful launchpad for what many hope will be an annual event in the IUTF calendar. Congratulations to the organisers who took great care of competitors and officials alike, to the extent of ensuring that the officials were catered for during the day. Well done to all the competitors without whom there would be no tournament.

Massive Success at European Championships

The Open European Championships were held in the beautiful city of Cork in the expansive Neptune Basketball Stadium. The immense preparation put into this the event by the organisers.was obvious. The black belt championships was run over two days followed by the colour belt on the third day (Sunday). Gort/Galway instructor Ms. Lisa Connolly opened the medal winning  for Ireland by proceeding to win the ladies 4th dan adult patterns. This was followed by Connacht Chief instructor, Mr. Fitzgibbon who took silver in mens’ senior 4th dan and above patterns. Mr. Fitzgibbon also took gold in the team patterns as did his student, and Barna instructor, Shane Rabbitte. Brendan Kenny also won gold in junior boys individual first degree patterns. With approximately forty medals won by the Galway group over the three days, its not possible to describe every single event. Suffice it to say, all our students performed to the best of their abilities and represented their instructors with great dignity and pride. Brendan Kenny was the star of the weekend winning seven medals and was awarded best overall male junior. The results were as follows: