THE Irish Open is always full of surprises, upsets and of course it will always remain unpredictable.
As over 2500 of the best fighters from across the globe made their way to the annual event in Dublin to prove themselves in the top tier of the kickboxing world.
Team Hit-Man of Cookstown Mugendo featured seven fighters listed to compete, among them was 2011 Irish Open Champion ‘Lighting Quick’ Dylan Wallace who brought the title home to Cookstown for the first time in the club’s ten year history. Each member had trained extensively for this one event to have a chance to bring home the title of being the Irish Open Champion.
A focused Team Hit-Man prepared in the warm up area ahead of Aaron ‘Blockbuster’ O’Neill’s Light Contact -60kg category fight to which he won by way of walk over. Round two saw O’Neill power his way through the quarter-finals with great movement and skill, winning decisively.
In the semi-finals he met the current champion and despite a gallant effort did not get the decision a great effort by Aaron saw him take bronze in this category - a great achievement at this level.
Geared up JP McGeary was entered into the Light Contact -80kg where he swept aside competition to reach the quarter finals where he was beaten by the dreaded split decision narrowly missing out on bronze. Also in the Light Contact -80kg was Team Hit-Man’s Gareth McAleer who was beaten in round one by a heavy hitting Irish man.
Sensational Sarah Murray fell in the quarter finals in the Light Contact -65kg category, as did Billy ‘Knock-Out’ Purvis in the Light Contact +90kg category. Last year’s Champion Wallace was entered into the Light Contact -63kg category and the Irish Open lived up to its unpredictably as he was beaten by an unfair split decision in round one.
All hopes of the title returning to Cookstown Mugendo were placed on the shoulders of 2010 W.K.A World Light-Contact Middleweight Champion and W.K.A Northern Ireland Full Contact Middleweight Champion Noel ‘The Bolt’ Tierney.
Tierney would have to face five opponents in total. First up was Irish fighter Mark Mcrory from Evolve Martial Arts in the Light Contact -74kg category. Tierney’s impressive height towered over his first opponent giving him the height and reach advantage which proved to be the deciding factor in this contest.
Next up for Tierney was another Irish man, Stephen Dent of Primal Kickboxing Club. The contest was fierce and fast and saw Noel finish the strongest. Tierney then learnt that his opponent for round three would be the current W.A.K.O World Light-Contact Champion Levente Bertalan from Austria.
Noel revelled in the opportunity to face such a strong opponent for whoever would win this bout would surely go on to take the Irish Open title. Unfortunately the fight did not happen due to Bertalan pulling out due to injury which left Tierney to fight in The semi-finials against Hong Keat of I.M.A.A. This fight would see Tierney use his power and speed to keep himself out of striking distance from his opponent. Who, if given the chance, would cause the Kildress man great trouble. However, Keat went on to fall three times in two rounds leaving Tierney to win by an unanimous decision.
The final saw Tierney face a strong fighter from Belgium Nick Gijsemans who could match Tierney’s speed and power. The athletic ability which the final provided, entertained the large crowd that gathered to watch. Tierney used his axel and side kick which gave his counterpart great difficulty in dealing with Tierney’s powerful and precise attacks. This gave Tierney the edge to win the final and become 2012 Irish Open Champion by an unanimous decision.
Team Hit-Man done what a lot of clubs have failed to do and that is to retain one of the most greatest titles in Kickboxing.
Cookstown Mugendo have joined the ranks of the few great thanks to the gallant efforts of every fighter from Team Hit-Man who has ever taken on the challenges brought on by The Irish Open. Sensei Joe Hagan was over joyed by this achievement. He said: “Everyone fought well and did all they could do. The level of talent here cannot be underestimated and Team Hit-Man as always have done their best here today. Dylan & Noel have done something wonderful for the club as have all the fighters who as ever come here with Cookstown Mugendo. Thanks to everyone involved the club is growing in strength.”
As always the club is open to new members. Classes are available for beginners from four years to adult. Anyone wishing to benefit by joining the club can come along to arrange a free trial class at the Dojo, Union St. or by calling Joe - 07956586100.