Beach volleyball stars claim bronze

Northern Ireland Beach Volleyball team won their first ever silverware at the CEV Continental Cup Olympic-qualifying tournament at Portobello Beach in Edinburgh.

NI Ladies Beach Volleyball team including Rhian McCarroll, Cait Donnelly, Melissa Traynor and Caz Toye.

The team, starring Ballymoney Blaze members Rhian McCarroll and Melissa Traynor, had come through a first qualifying round in Slovenia earlier in the year, but surpassed even that achievement by winning th e bronze.

Up against England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, the Northern Irish team despatched Ireland in their opener before seeing England and Scotland go through to the third round of qualification for the Rio Olympic Games.

“Unfortunately that is us out of the qualification process,” said Rhian, “but it was a fantastic opportunity and proved that we are capable of competing at this standard.

“We were up against players who had played at the Olympics and even professionals, but really the difference was the greater experience of our opponents.

“Given that we had to fund the trip ourselves and had no help from the government, it was a fantastic performance.

“Hopefully we will be able to build on this experience, secure funding for our sport, and compete in more tournaments around Europe next season.”

Additionally, the NI Men’s team, including Jeff Scott and Jonathan Workman from Ballymoney Blaze, finished in fourth place to Slovakia, Scotland and Ireland.