03/06/2019 15:00
Volleyball on the rise as Ireland shines in hosting Continental Cup
2018-2020 CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup

Bettystown, Ireland, June 3, 2019. Bettystown beach in County Meath was the venue for a tremendous weekend of action in the CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup as seven nations looked to make it a step further on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

On the men’s side, Lithuania were the big winners as they took home the trophy finishing first after defeating Ukraine in the final, 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 Isabelle Carey, Alexandra 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 their games, as a host of spectators took to the beach to enjoy the action.

“It was so fun,” said Ireland’s Isabelle 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 Alexandra Graves echoed her teammate’s sentiments. “It’s been fab. You can hear people cheering from the stands, I am getting coaching titbits 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,” said 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 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 enjoyed a brilliant pitch invasion from their new admirers.

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 have recently launched a four-year strategic plan to help grow participation, raise our performance while also improving our standards and raising the profile of the sport in the country.”

Click here for further information on the CEV Continental Cup.

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