Bettystown beach in Co. Meath was the venue for a tremendous weekend of action in the CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup as seven nations looked to gain vital points on the road to Tokyo.
On the men’s side, Lithuania were the big winners as they took home the trophy finishing first after defeating Ukraine in the golden game, while on the women’s side it was Slovakia who impressed with Estonia finishing runners up.
Ireland had both a men’s and women’s team on display with Benny O’Regan, Grzegorz Kaczmarek, Oisin McArdle and Alex Gibbons representing the men while Izzy Carey, Alex Graves, Marie-Claire Sabogal and Miriam Connolly flew the tricolour for the women.
Although neither side left Bettystown with silverware, Ireland performed valiantly with the hometown support providing a boost in a number of there games, as a host of spectators took to the beach to enjoy the action.
“It was so fun,” said Ireland’s Izzy Carey.
“We have so many friends and family out and there are loads of people who have come out in support from around the area so it’s been an amazing environment to play in.”
Carey’s partner Alex Graves, echoed her teammate’s sentiments.
“It’s been fab. You can hear people cheering from the stands, I’m getting coaching tidbits from my friends, it’s really lovely. The atmosphere has been awesome.”
The rain held away for both days of Continental Cup action, with Sunday’s sun bringing the crowds to Bettystown beach to soak in the atmosphere and the action.
Ireland’s male pairing of Alex Gibbons and Oisin McArdle, both of whom live overseas and had travelled home for the event, spoke of the pride in which they felt representing their country and the support they received.
“There’s no better feeling,” began McArdle.
“During the game, after, right now. We played some tough games but we fought for every point and the crowd was constantly behind us and on our back. You can’t compare it to anything.”
There were plenty of Irish fans in attendance, while the other nations were also well supported, but perhaps none more so than the Danish women’s team who, with Ireland finished for the evening on Saturday, became the adopted country for a host of young fans.
During a game against Slovakia, the Danes had tremendous support and upon winning were subjected to a brilliant pitch invasion from their new admirers.
We love this 😂👌🏻 Denmark get the victory over Slovakia and the fans go wild! They’ve taken brilliantly to this Danish side! @CEVolleyball @DenmarkVolley #RaisingTheGame #RoadToTokyo #MakeItMeath pic.twitter.com/Hs76stnnUq
— Pundit Arena (@PunditArena) June 1, 2019
The tournament as a whole was a massive success for Bettystown and the sport of volleyball in Ireland which is continuing to grow year on year.
Volleyball Ireland general manager Gary Stewart said:
“It was a fantastic weekend. Volleyball in Ireland is on the rise and we’ve recently launched a four year strategic plan to help grow particpation, raise our performance while also improving our standads and raising the profile of the sport in the country.”
For more information on volleyball in Ireland and how you can get involved in the sport visit Volleyball Ireland’s official website here.