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Five gold for competitors at Irish Karate Championships

Clare karate competitors brought home a stunning five gold medals from the WSKF Irish Karate Championships, staged in Tallaght at the weekend.
In a battling performance, members of the Ennis Karate Academy took home a total of 16 medals.
Pride of place went the three youngest competitors, Robert McNamara (7), Lorraine Connellan (7) and Séamus Óg Enright (6), who were competing at the nationals for the first time. Robert won gold in the U-8 Kumite, or fighting, with Séamus Óg taking bronze in the same event. Lorraine won bronze in U-8 Kata.
The first Ennis success of the day came when, for the fifth year in a row, John Tunney won gold in the veteran’s Kata. Séamus Enright Senior took third place in the same event, his first success at this level. Soon after, Letty Howe followed up with a bronze, this time in the ladies’ Kumite, having been very unlucky to lose her semi-final.
These early successes set a pattern for the day. Mike Todd of Tullaroe, Kilbaha, turned in an authoritative performance to win gold in the veteran’s coloured belts fighting.
This was matched by Darren Taylor from Querrin, who was first in the senior men’s coloured belts Kata. Darren then added to his win with a second-place finish in the Kumite.
It was a great achievement for the two men, who are both debutants at this level. Next up was Leah Enright, who turned in fine performances in the U-18 ladies’ Kumite and Kata but came away empty-handed.
However, it was at the top levels of the championships where the strength of the Ennis Academy became most evident.
In the U-21 men’s division, three of the four semi-finalists were from Ennis. In one of the highlights of the day, Cormac Hennessy and Conall Tunney fought a ding-dong battle that went to double overtime before Tunney took the win by a single score.
In the final, he met his friend and sparring partner Patrick Tierney and the two Clare lads put on a sparkling contest, which, once again, Conall won in overtime. With Hennessy winning the fight-off for third place, it meant that the Ennis boys took all three medals in this category. In the U-21 Kata, Tunney and Hennessy were again in the medals, taking silver and bronze respectively.
Finally, in the men’s senior competitions, Conall Tunney won another bronze in Kata and then went one better by making it to the final of the blue-ribbon event, the senior men’s Kumite. There, he faced Mark Sheridan, the most successful Irish karate competitor.
When the two had last fought, back in October, Tunney had won but this time the vastly experienced Sheridan used his 15-kilo weight advantage to good effect and the Ennis student had to be content with the silver.
Still, his medal haul of one gold, two silver and one bronze, made him the most successful Clare competitor on the day.
“This was a great event for us,” said club sensei Jim Bradley. “The Ennis Karate Academy is a real family club. Today, we had competitors from six to 49 years old, in some cases children and their parents, who won medals at national level. For me it doesn’t get much better than that,” he added.

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