Belfast Open 2017 Report

The 8th Belfast Open was held on the 11th and 12th of March 2017 at Belfast Fencing Club’s venue at Sullivan Upper School in Holywood. As in previous years, it consisted of a senior event with men’s and women’s epee, foil and sabre, as well as the 5th round of the NI Junior Foil Series. Taking place across the Saturday and Sunday, a total of 143 fencers from all over Ireland, 75 senior and 68 junior, took part.


On the Saturday in the men’s epee, Geoffrey Corcoran (QUB) emerged as top seed from the poule stage after losing only one fight, then progressed to the final, but only after a 15-14 quarter-final win against Calvin Rusiewski (Munster). In the final he defeated Zoltan Szilagyi (Brian Boru) convincingly 15-6. Isabelle Clarke (Munster/Pembroke) was top seed after the women’s epee poules, but was knocked out in the semi-final by eventual gold medal winner Camille Hindsgaul (DUFC). Camille then defeated Sorcha Mellon-Whelan (Salle Dublin/UCD) 15-8 in the final.

Fresh from a win in the U16 category of the NI Junior Foil Series on the Saturday, Robbie Cockburn (RBAI/Grosvenor) continued winning on Sunday with a victory over veteran Philip Lee (Pembroke) in the senior men’s foil final. In the women’s foil, Katie Gillespie (QUB) defeated cadet Emelia Velma (Pembroke) to take gold.

In the men’s sabre, David Downey’s (Foyle) return to competitive fencing brought him victory with a win over Gerard Madden (QUB) in the final. Meanwhile, in the women’s sabre Beth Taylor (Lisburn Gladiators) defeated Gerda Ziemele (UCD) in the final and become the only gold medal winner on the day to retain their BO title from 2016.

Daniel Sigurdsson (Grosvenor) and Robbie Cockburn (Grosvenor) were seeded 1 and 2 after the NIJFS U16 MF poules and both had yet to lose a fight when they met in the final. There, Robbie took a convincing 15-3 win, consolidating his series points lead. There were only 2 U16 WF entrants, Sarah Shaw (Hunterhouse/Lisburn Gladiators) and Orla McGinnity (Grosvenor). After competing with the boys in the poules, they progressed directly to the final, where Sarah won 15-10, increasing her lead in the series rankings.

In the U14 MF, Claudio Sosa Smatrala (Pembroke) cruised to his 4th win of the series with a 15-6 final victory over Matthew Marron (RBAI). The toughest resistance to Claudio’s progress coming from Matteo Sanvito (Pembroke) in the semi, Claudio winning 15-11. The U14 WF resulted in yet another Dasha Lee (Pembroke) – Anna Vaughan (Sullivan) final, the 4th such meeting of the pair in the series. Dasha took gold, winning 15-6.

Luke Sherlock (Pembroke) took his 3rd win of the series in the U12 MF, beating Szymon Turkiewicz (FLO) 10-3 in the final. Current series leader, Eoghan O’Hanluain-Fay dropped two fights in the poule stage, leading to an early meeting with Szymon in the quarters, Szymon winning 10-9. Jessica Magee and Megan Piao made the U12 WF final an all Pembroke affair, Jessica taking the gold medal 10-8. Both finalists had tough semi-finals, Megan defeating Emma Yeaman (Sullivan) 10-9 and Jessica beating Alex Burke (Sullivan) 10-8.

The U10 final resulted in a meeting of the 2 fencers currently vying for the series points lead: Leon Gautier-Loftus and Thomas de Zeeuw. Both had won through the previous rounds with convincing wins, then in a low scoring, close fought final, Leon came out on top, winning 5-4.

A big thank you from Belfast Fencing Club to the following people for their help in running this year’s Belfast Open.
Alison and Philip Slater and Martyn Girvin for NIJFS and senior epee DT on the Saturday.
Gerard Madden and Katie Gillespie for senior foil and sabre DT on the Sunday.
David Connery as NIJFS organiser.
Anyone who refereed over the two days.
All competitors for taking part.
Those club members and anyone else who helped out with hall set-up and clear-up.
Sullivan Upper School for kindly letting us use their facilities.

David White
Belfast Fencing Club
March 2017