Members of the North West Shotokan Karate Club travelled as part of the Irish Shotokan Karate Union, the short distance to Burnfoot recently to compete in the 7th UKF International Competition.
Attracting teams from as far away as Denmark, Belgium and Romania, as well as from both sides of the border, this event was held in the Aileach Youth and Community Centre.
With ISKU Head Coach Mandy McNulty undertaking duties as tournament referee, the 24-strong team from the ISKU, were led by coaches and senior team members Eathan O’Donnell, Ciara Dullaghan, Emer Dullaghan assisted by Sloan O’Donnell and Elaine Dullaghan.
The day began with the senior competition and local rivalry ensued in the team kata events. Firstly, in the senior men’s team kata, the ISKU team, Adam Byrne, Sloan and Eathan O’Donnell, had to settle for silver medals with the UKF team taking gold, but positions were reversed in the senior women’s event, when sisters Elaine, Emer and Ciara Dullaghan from ISKU took the gold. The ISKU’s success in the team kata continued with the two Cadet teams winning both gold and bronze medals. The performance of Elaine Dullaghan, Laura Browne and Adam Byrne earned them gold medals, while Laura, Pauric Callaghan and Isobel Walsh together lifted bronze.
The very high standard was evident by the European champions from Romania and Denmark in the individual kata events. Nevertheless, the ISKU competed strongly. James Burke’s skills earned him silver in his category, with team-mate Gavin McLaughlin taking the bronze. Elaine Dullaghan performed strongly to win the silver medal in the Female Cadet category.
The male Cadets were equally strong, and the ISKU students took a clean sweep of medals, with Adam Byrne taking gold, Pauric Callaghan lifting the silver and Dillon O’Loughlin securing the bronze, just edging out team-mate, Kyle Gamble. The Senior Kumite events then got underway and the ISKU students had mixed fortunes.
In the team rotation, the Female Cadet team, comprising Elaine, Laura and Isobel had to settle for silver, despite a determined display particularly by Elaine whose impressive fighting skills went unrewarded.
The male Cadets also battled hard, but came up against a top-class Belgian team in the elimination rounds. In the individual kumite events, Gavin McLaughlin thrilled his team-mates with a dogged performance which won him the gold in his category. Elaine Dullaghan then showed her class to win a gold in the Female Cadet kumite.
The ISKU students did not disappoint in the junior events either. The female individual kata saw Rebecca Burke win the silver medal, while Lucy Casey took the bronze. For the boys, Dylan Kelly secured a bronze medal with his kata performance.
When it came to the individual kumite, the Juniors showed their fighting skills to great effect. Stephen John Carlin fought through the elimination rounds to achieve a silver medal. Both Rebecca Burke and Hollie Gallagher fought with great determination to secure a silver medal in their respective categories, while Saoirse Kelly and Caitlin O’Loughlin each lifted the bronze for their kumite efforts.
The ISKU students who competed at the UKF International were: Laura Browne, James Burke, Rebecca Burke, Adam Byrne, Pauric Callaghan, Faragh Campbell, Stephen John Carlin, Lucy Casey, Ciara Dullaghan, Elaine Dullaghan, Emer Dullaghan, Emma Ellis, Hollie Gallagher, Kyle Gamble, Dylan Kelly, Saoirse Kelly, Gavin McLaughlin, Eathan O’Donnell, Sloan O’Donnell, Caitlin O’Loughlin, Dillon O’’Loughlin and Isobel Walsh.
All in all it was a very successful outing for the ISKU team winning a total of 40 medals: 11 gold, 16 silver and 13 bronze – a fantastic achievement at this international level.
Another honour for the club came in the form of the presentation of Dan Grade Certificates to Elaine Dullaghan and Sloan O’Donnell who had recently obtained their Black Belts, by the President of the World Union of Karate Federations, Sensei Liviu Crisan.
This was followed the presentation of Associate Referee Certificates and Senior Associate Referee Certificates to Sensei Mandy McNulty and Sensei Raymond Shannon respectively by the WUKF General Secretary, Sensei Roberto Perri from Belgium. The final presentation was made on behalf of the ISKU to Dr. Richard Rebain, Osteopath, on his retirement, in recognition for his support to the ISKU over the years.