LOCAL Karate World Champions the O’Donnachadhas, who train with a Dublin club, were on dynamic form at the Irish Karate National Championships held in the BasketBall Arena in Dublin recently.
Shannon was first up where she displayed one of the greatest performances of her career. Spectators at the National Basketball arena watched while Shannon exploded through the heats in her weight category of the Female Cadets Brown and Blackbelt section to meet up with her Donegal opponent in the finals. This was something of a grudge match following a Bout earlier in the year at a Karate International held in Donegal where despite repeated fouling the decision was awarded to her Donegal opponent in what was felt as partisan judging.
As soon as the fight commenced Shannon immediately went on the attack which caught her opponent off guard allowing Shannon to put the first score up on the scoreboard. Shannon continued to press home the advantage and score, with her opponent at one stage literally running from Shannon. Leading on a score line of 4-0 with the buzzer announcing only 30 seconds to go and having demonstrated she could easily outclass her opponent in terms of karate skill.
In the space of those thirty seconds Shannon did exactly that and nearly knocked her opponent out on three occasions with some devastating head kicks and punches and was unfortunately disqualified for excessive contact with only two seconds remaining on the clock, it was a fair decision however Shannon was nonetheless delighted with her performance and was very happy indeed to settle for Silver.
Next up was younger sister Rachael who was also fighting in the Cadet Brown and Blackbelt category. Rachael lived up to her reputation, easily earning a place in the final, where she came up against the highly experienced and formidable Emma Heffernan. However, it looked as if this could be Rachael’s moment as Rachael gained an early lead by taking the first score with a beautifully executed foot sweep and punch combination. Heffernan tried to use her speed and agility to find an opening in Rachaels defence but to no avail. The air was electric as karate fans watched two of Ireland’s top fighters, and both current world champions, battle it out in a nail biting clash, with both girls producing their best performances.
Leading on a score of 4-2 after the first two minutes Rachael then stepped up a gear and punished her opponent as each time her adversary attacked Rachael would counter with an expertly timed counter punch combination. The fight did not go the full distance as Rachael easily outclassed her opponent on a score line of 6-2 to once again secure the National Title.
Their younger brother Martin fought next. Expectations were low due to his lack of recent competition experience and missed training sessions due to scheduling conflicts as he also plays Rugby for Dundalk. Nonetheless Martin powered his way through to the quarter finals of the Boys under 14 Brown and Blackbelt section. However he was too powerful for his opponent and was disqualified for excessive contact and had to settle for Bronze.
The youngest of the siblings ‘Joe’ was in a large section with 23 competitors in his age and height section. Despite his tender years Joes International and World Championship experience made him look like a seasoned veteran in comparison to his opponents as he sailed through his first two fights by easily outclassing his opponents 6-0 in both fights.
In his third fight he was leading 3-0 when complacency set in and Joe allowed his opponent to level the score 3-3. Seeing that victory was not automatically assured Joe got back into his rhythm and won the bout 6-3. Joe won his next fight 6-1 which assured him of a place in the finals where he met an equally seasoned competitor from Carlow. Joe took an early lead of 1-0 but the Carlow opponent immediately took it back to even the match. Moments later, Joe again clinched the lead, only to see it slip away as his opponent evened it out two all. The pattern was to repeat itself until the final bell.
In the Kata section of the National Championships Rachael and Martin decided not to enter Kata and defend their titles this year. Shannon although having previously registered and then subsequently deciding not to enter Kata, yet again changed her mind with less than five minutes to go before the Kata competition commenced. Despite the odds and with no Kata suit and little Kata practice she amazingly secured a silver medal in the All Styles Kata and in the process beat a world Shotokan karate champion into third place. The youngest of the team Joe easily outclassed his opponents in Kata to secure a well-deserved Gold.
Their club instructor and also chairman of the government recognised body responsible for Karate in Ireland (IKAB), Dublin man Fran Nangle, was ecstatic at his Team’s performance.
“The standard at the championships was very high, with athletes from across Ireland and different karate styles attending” he remarked. “For the O’Donnachadhas to yet again feature so highly in the medals ranking is a tremendous achievement, it must be something of a record for four members of the same family to be competing at the same time and continuously winning at National, International, and World level”.