Dealgan Karate Club siblings Shannon niDhonnachadha and Joe O’Donnachadha attended a training camp with five time World champion and seven time European champion Wayne Otto recently and they put that experience to good use at the Leinster Karate Open in Carlow.
The long, early morning road trip to the south-east ended in success as they were rewarded for their endeavours with a gold and silver medal in fighting and a gold and silver in Kata.
The first of the duo to fight was Joe in the U11 section. Being relatively tall but slim for his age, he was placed in a section of 14 competitors which included some large bruising 10-year-olds.
This not did deter Joe, who despite his tender years, is already a seasoned national and international competitor. His first opponent was a Kenpo exponent from Dublin who had a considerable height advantage.
As the buzzer sounded Joe immediately brought the fight to his opponent and landed a well timed roundhouse kick to his head, immediately giving him a two point lead.
His frustrated opponent tried to press the fight but Joe would immediately counter with a well timed kick or punch and effectively score at will. The fight finished on a scoreline of 5-0. His next two fights followed a similar pattern as he won both of these 3-0 and 4-0 respectively.
Joe’s final fight was against the local champion who had the home crowd behind him as well as the advantage of the main referee also being a local. The Dealgan fighter knew if he was to secure the gold he would have to do it in style.
His corner were a little concerned as his opponent was powerfully built and had secured his place in the final with a series of stoppages. However, seemingly oblivious to his opponent’s size, Joe went about systematically dismantling the Carlow fighter with combinations of kicks and punches and even at one stage attempted to throw his much larger opponent.
The fight finished on a score line of 5-0 and Joe had amazingly managed to go through four fights with not a single point scored against him.
The simple but sage advice of Otto - ‘If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t allow yourself get hit’ - was never more appropriate.
Next up was Joe’s eldest sister Shannon who stepped up to secure a fantastic silver medal in the U21 tournament despite being only 16 years of age.
Shannon’s fights were in the brown/black belt section and proved to the highlight of the day’s fighting, even surpassing the senior men’s event. The spectators were treated to bruising but skilful encounters featuring an array of kicking techniques, punching techniques, sweeps and throws.
In what proved to be an exhilarating last fight for Shannon she narrowly lost out on a score line of 4-3 with both fighters exhausted at the end having given it their all with the judges remarking that it was the fight of the day.