Mid Ulster Squash Club makes history with sensational Premier League win

Mid Ulster Squash Club (MUSC) made history on Tuesday by winning the Ulster Premier League.
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It is the first time the newly formed club, which combined previous clubs in Magherafelt, Cookstown and Dungannon, has won the coveted title and nearly two decades since any team from the Mid Ulster area achieved a similar feat.

Having had a strong season, the team from Mid Ulster only needed 3 points from their final home fixture at Cookstown Leisure Centre against a potentially strong side in South Lake. With a local crowd watching in Cookstown Leisure Centre, the MUSC Captain, Stevie White, took to the court against South Lake’s Rory Canavan in the 4th tie match.

A previous runner up in the Premier League on eight occasions, this was a potentially tricky fixture for the Mid Ulster man desperate to secure his first league title. A strong start to match saw White take a 1-0 lead. After losing a nervous second game, White’s experience came through to secure the match 3-1 and with it the Premier League title for Mid Ulster.

Pictured are members of Mid Ulster Squash Club. Credit: SubmittedPictured are members of Mid Ulster Squash Club. Credit: Submitted
Pictured are members of Mid Ulster Squash Club. Credit: Submitted

With little pressure on the rest of the team, kiwi-born Brendan Murphy took to the court against South Lake’s David McElroy in the 3rd tie match. Having only lost one match all season, this had the potential to be a difficult match against a younger opponent who has improved in form over the last year. Despite a fast and frantic start, Murphy’s experience and stellar shot-making proved too much for McElroy who fell 3-0 putting Mid Ulster 2-0 up in the fixture.

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Next up in the 2nd tie match was Mid Ulster Squash Club Head Coach, Will Nicholson against Nathan Wilkinson. A slow start to the match from Mid Ulster saw South Lake’s Wilkinson take a 1-0 lead, but Nicolson’s court craft and experience enabled him to take hold of the match and secure a comfortable 3-1 victory for the home side.

With Mid Ulster leading 3-0 in the fixture, two of Ulster and Ireland’s top players took to the court in the top tie fixture. Gareth Brown (Ulster number 4 and Ireland number 8) from Mid Ulster Squash Club took on Peter McNeice (Ulster number 2 and former Ireland number 6). Potentially a close encounter on paper, Brown, having had a good season on the Irish Senior tournament circuit, suffered from a lack of training in previous weeks recovering from a virus. Despite best efforts, the Mid Ulster number 1 succumbed to McNeice’s renowned physicality and relentless pace in straight sets.

Watching in the crowd was former Irish national player, Tanya Scullion, who was undefeated in playing for Mid Ulster Squash Club this season.

Speaking following the 3-1 win over South Lake to win the Premier League, Captain Stevie White, said: “This is a huge achievement for sport in Mid Ulster. It’s been nearly 20 years since any team from this area has won the Ulster Premier Squash League, so we’re really delighted with how the team has performed this season. There were a couple of really key crunch moments through the season where the team stepped up and got crucial results when they really mattered. Mid Ulster has a history and heritage of great squash players, so we’re proud to continue this legacy.”

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