Team EPIC once again descended upon the lively city of Dublin in early March as we took a strong team of fighters and coaches to the land of the Irish. The team arrived around the middle of the day on Friday 3rd March and went straight to weigh in, all fighters made their weight and then immediately went on to either eat, sleep or prepare for the afternoons continuous action.
The squad that travelled over to fight was: Alex Fellender-Evans, Amy Kingscott, Ben Davies, Carmen Jones, Emma Doyle, Fin Haynes, George Sherlock, Gio Marchese, Harrison Doyle, Harvey Tyler, Justin Worland, Kam Doyle, Katie Williams, Matt Roberts, Molly Hershaw, Rakan Sabbah and Teia Doyle.
Coaches: Andy Cleeves, Andy Gill.
The team made their way to the arena at 3pm on the friday afternoon for the commencement of the 2017 event and saw the first TEAM EPIC squad enter the team event. The four warriors who stepped onto the mats were Ellie Doyle, Harrison Doyle, Harvey Tyler and George Sherlock. The opponents were the well drilled CMA Villans from Halesowen, UK. The fight started slow for EPIC, after Ellie’s round the team were down by 2 points. George Sherlock went up next and fought hard to try and bring the deficit back but the team were still behind due to the evasive style his opponent brought to the mats which was a clever tactic. Harvey Tyler was unlucky to have multiple scores against him that hit his back and the frustrations started to show amongst the EPIC support. With the team still behind on points after the third round Harrison Doyle was left with the task of getting the points back. It was one step too far and the Villans went on to progress. They eventually lost in the final to Team Byrne.
In the Juniors Ben Davies made his way through to the quarter finals with a fighting flare that saw him become british champion just a few weeks before. The quarter final opponent was a strong Italian fighter who was just a little bit sharper and went on to progress. Ben also fought in the open weight against the same greek fighter that Kam Doyle fought the night before. A couple of very harsh refereeing calls and a frantically paced fight made for a tense atmosphere at the fight entered extra time. The Greek won by 1 point which wasn’t a fair reflection of the way that Ben fought. Kam Doyle fought in the senior divisions for the first time in Light Continuous -57kg. He made it all the way through to the semi final but lost to the eventual winner in a very tense bout. With stoppages and the referee not letting the fight flow like it should in this style the world champion found it hard to get into a rhythm. With this being said he was countering well and from a neutrals point-of-view the result still looked like it would be heading to the EPIC fighter. The result went the other way however and ended up with disappointment an frustration at the handling of the fight. Doyle then dusted himself down and went on to reach the finals of the -57kg juniors points fighting category. He had several tough fights including the aforementioned greek fighter than proved to be hard work especially due to a nose injury that he suffered after being caught with an elbow in the continuous. The final of the category was cagey to start with until the Hungarian fighter went a couple of points up not far from the end. Doyle showed his champion spirit to pull it back to a one point deficit with seconds to go. His opponent then controversially turned and ran off the mats as Kam landed a headkick. The referees didn’t initially score anything which enraged the entire crowd and invoked senior official involvement. Eventually the fighter got away with an exit which lost him a point and the fight went to extra time which stayed deadlock with both fighters scoring a further point each. Deadlocked, the tie went to sudden death and Doyle’s movement pulled his opponent into scoring range but as he went for the shot, the Hungarian jumped back and landed a counter backfist to take the gold. Kam took the silver which was harsh under the circumstances. Amy Kingscott stepped up to the -50kg category against a tough Irish opponent and it was her first performance on the mats in a little while but that didn’t show as she took the fight to her opponent. The home nation fighter ultimately proved stronger and took the bout but credit to the 16-year old from EPIC who gave a good account of herself.
In the younger cadets George Sherlock won a bronze medal in the -28kg category as he overcame tough opponents from Greece and Italy to reach the semi finals against Mate Hammer (world champion) from Hungary. The Kiraly fighter ended up fighting a few EPIC fighters on the day and won this bout with his range of leg technique and quick blitzing. George also got to the quarter-finals of the -32kg category. Harvey Tyler reached the semi finals of the -32kg category after coming through his draw sheet and beating several opponents to win his drawsheet and pulled off the technique of the tournament as he scored a 3-point tornado kick in one of his fights. He then stepped up against Mate Hammer who proved to be too strong on this occasion, another medal for the young fighter though was warranted. Katie Williams was slow to start in her first category in the -55kg novice section at her first ever international competition and conceded an exit before taking the fight back to her opponent and narrowly missing out on progressing. Her second category went alot better as she took the -60kgs by storm progressing through to the final. She fought the winner of the -55kg category in the final, a german, who looked experienced. The final was a close encounter with both fighters taking the initiative at times but ultimately ended a stalemate and went to extra time. The german fighter agonisingly won by 1 point in extra time which meant Williams took silver! Fin Haynes won a bronze medal in a strong -28kg category as he went down in the semi finals to a team GB national fighter. He fought very well on the day, having to pick himself up after a slow start by the team and it rallied everyone up for the rest of the day. Alex Fellender-Evans narrowly missed out on the semi finals in the -28kg category as he beat an Irishman and a GB fighter before losing out to a GB fighter in the quarters. He moved well and countered well where needed but it was one fight too many on the day. In the -32kg category Alex beat his opening round opponent from Italy before facing Mate Hammer from Hungary and went down 2-0 in that fight. Ellie Doyle won a bronze in the -37kg girls category which was a tough division! She moved much better than she had done in the team fight and dismantled her opening round opponent. She eventually lost in the semi-final to the eventual winner from Hungary. Harrison Doyle made it through to his draw sheet final but faced a nemesis from GB, which proved one fight that he couldn’t win on the day. Teia Doyle also narrowly lost in her categories to the winners. The young rising star was slow to start in her opening category but fought her heart out in her second category. She was transformed and showed bags of potential taking a bronze in a tough category! Carmen Jones picked up a bronze in her category with slick kicking and dropping well into her hand techniques to reach the semi finals but the category was very hard. The Irish Open is the highest level international tournament and it showed off Jones’ potential as she pushed hard for the win but just couldn’t quite get the better of her semi final opponent which was a shame but a well deserved medal all the same.
In the senior divisions Molly Hershaw drew 7x world champion Anna Kondar in the first round of the +70kg category which was unlucky. The experience of the Hungarian paid dividends in this fight as she countered most of the techniques that Molly threw at her. Hershaw then went on to fight in the -70kg and took her sponsored Norwegian opponent apart with a resounding 10-0 win just a few seconds into the second round of the fight. She went to fight a tough Italian fighter in the second round and ran it close but was unlucky to come out of that one on the losing side. Matt Robert fought in the -84kg mens and fought an Irishman in the first round and after a slow start recovered to perform very well but left himself far too much to do as he chased the bout. Roberts also fought against an experienced Italian in the -89kg category and was beaten in the first round. Gio Marchese used a range of flare and experience to beat his opponents as he cruised through to the semi finals of the continuous. He stopped his quarter final opponent with a skilfully timed counted back kick which was a real crowd pleaser. He narrowly lost his quarter final to a younger man from Team Renegade in the dying seconds. Rakan Sabbah was unlucky to be disqualified from his continuous round as he went for a switch scissor kick, his opponent dropped his head and froze which meant that the knee of the Jordanian made impact with his opponent and the fight was declared over. Justin Worland fought in the veteran men’s points category and fought a very experienced fighter from GB which was a tough draw. Worland went for it though and didn’t hold back, giving a good account of himself.
Special thanks to Safety Horizons South West for their continued support as EPIC Martial Art’s official sponsor, also a thanks to the supporting parents who are always brilliant and our close family-like group that enjoyed the weekends event.