This year’s Belfast Open was held on the 19th and 20th March at our new venue of Sullivan Upper School in Holywood. As in previous years, it consisted of both senior and junior competitions, with senior men’s and women’s epee, foil and sabre, as well as Round 5 of the NI Junior Foil Series taking place across the Saturday and Sunday. A total of 112 fencers, junior and senior, took part.
In men’s epee, the first upset of the day saw top seeds Philip Slater and Jonathan Burnside knocked out in the last 16. BFC fencer Alastair Houldsworth, after only one poule win, then battled his way through the rounds to the final with two 15-14 wins, then defeated Pembroke’s Patrick Brennan to take gold with yet another 15-14 victory. In the women’s epee Charlotte Slater’s only serious opposition came from veteran Fiona Haldane, who took her to 15-14 in the semi. Normal service was then resumed in the final with a 15-5 win against Boelt Hindsgaul of Dublin University FC.
In men’s foil, top NI junior Stephen Brown was the clear favourite, and proceeded to take gold without a defeat, beating Theo Miller in the final to retain his MF title from last year. In the women’s foil it was a different matter, where the favourite and current UK No.2, Victoria Duxbury, was defeated 15-6 in the final by BFC junior Keziah Beattie, Keziah also retaining her title from 2015.
One of our cross channel visitors, Michael Jacob of Birmingham FC, took gold in the men’s sabre final, beating Fionn Flynn 15-10, while in the women’s sabre, Lisburn Gladiator Beth Taylor defeated Kathryn Marshall in the final to improve on her 2015 silver.
The NIJFS U16 MF saw Luke Wallace (Grosvenor) strengthen his lead in the series championship with a win in the final against William Girvin (Grosvenor) 15-11. In the U16 WF there was a similar outcome, with Ella Reid (Sullivan/BFC) increasing her championship lead by beating Rachel Smyth (Sullivan) in the final.
Grosvenor’s Jonathan Connery defeated Sullivan’s Oliver Galbraith in the U14 MF final to take gold. Sullivan/BFC fencer Erin Maginn beat U14 WF series leader Sarah Shaw 15-9 to close the series points gap to 7 points, but not before she just managed to beat her Sullivan/BFC team mate Phoebe McPherson 15-14 in the semi.
Pembroke fencers Claudio Sosa Smatrala and Matteo Sanvito fought out the U12 MF final, with Claudio taking his 5th successive round win to further his now unassailable series points lead. Dasha Lee, also of Pembroke, then defeated Tara Miller of Sullivan to increase her points lead over Tara in the U12 WF series rankings.
The Round 5 U10 Mixed Foil category was totally dominated by Pembroke fencers, with positions 1 to 7 all taken by members of that club. The final was between Jessica Magee and Simon O’Kelly, with Jessica taking a close win 10-9.
Big thanks from Belfast Fencing Club to the following people for their help in running this year’s Belfast Open.
Martyn Girvin and Philip Slater for NIJFS DT duties on the Saturday.
David Connery for doing NIJFS check-in.
Alison Slater for general assistance with DT on Saturday.
Alastair Davidson and Maureen Kerr for DT duties for the senior competitions.
Those club members and anyone else who helped out with hall set-up and clear-up.
Anyone who refereed over the two days.
Sullivan Upper School for kindly letting us use their facilities.
Team BFC, well, some of us.