In our new series, ‘Showcase your Sport’, in association with the Federation of Irish Sport, we will be giving you a thorough insight into some of the most fascinating sports we have in Ireland.
This week our focus is on Table Tennis and answering our questions is Mia O’Rahilly Egan, a player and coach who has represented her country and is a member of Table Tennis Ireland’s women in sport committee.
When did you first get involved with Table Tennis?
I first got involved when I was around eight years old and my brother played in his school in a club. My parents thought it would be a good idea to come along one night and start playing. I loved it straight away.
What drew you to the sport?
My brother is also very sporty and seeing him play definitely drew me to the sport immediately. Another person who has always been very passionate about the sport is my coach and seeing how he taught everyone made me appreciate table tennis more.
What are the basic rules?
The server is the player that is due to strike the ball first. The receiver is the player due to strike the ball second in the rally. You are not allowed to hit the ball before it bounces on your side of the court. A point is won when the ball bounces twice or hits out of play or a volley is stuck.
A game is when one person or a pair has first scored 11 points unless both players or pairs score 10 points and then to win the game need to win two points in a row. A match consists of the best of any odd number of games.
How many clubs are there in Ireland?
There are 58 clubs in Ireland, across Leinster, Munster, Connacht, and Ulster. To find out more about where our clubs are located check out our club map https://tabletennisireland.ie/clubs/
Do Irish people compete internationally?
Yes, we have many Irish internationals, ages ranging from 9 – 80+. I have been lucky to have represented Ireland at Junior and Senior Levels internationally. For example; I have represented Ireland at European Youth Championships and the Senior World Championships in Düsseldorf in 2017. I have also played at Primary Schools Six Nations and Senior Schools International Six Nations events and won gold medals respectively. My most recent achievement before lockdown was winning the gold medal in the Malta Invitational u18’s team event with my teammate Nicole.
What is your favourite aspect of your role?
My favourite aspect of being involved as a table tennis player is representing Ireland at international level with my teammates. I have also been lucky to be part of promoting women in sport and coaching young players especially females in my club. I am delighted to be able to give back to the sport and to those people who have supported me enormously in my career.
Is Table Tennis a diverse sport?
Yes, table tennis is a diverse sport. Table tennis players span across from age, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, physical and mental abilities. Table Tennis is an Olympic and Paralympic sport, and it is played for fun and competition by all age groups in clubs all over Ireland.
Why should people try Table Tennis?
I believe people should try Table Tennis because it is a very fun and unique sport from a lot of other sports. It is a sport that benefits your physical and mental health as it requires a lot of concentration. You also get to meet new people and make friends for life. In my experience, I have travelled around Ireland to compete in championships and training camps alongside my closest friends to this day. Not only have I made friends across Ireland but I have also met new people including different coaches and players abroad which has given me some opportunities for my future as a full-time player and coach.
How can they get involved?
Firstly you can visit www.tabletennisireland.ie and see what clubs may be near you or make contact with the organisation who can assist you. I know it’s more difficult now with Covid right now so you could also go online to websites to learn how to do some skills and buy outdoor tables for instance for the summer which you can play around with your friends and family. There are various skill challenges on Table Tennis Ireland’s social media channels, which would be fun to try out.