Galway badminton on the rise thanks to focus on juveniles

Badminton Ireland President Betty Thompson presents Shane Wynne of Oranmore Badminton Club with the 'Coach of the Year' award at a function in the Hilton Hotel, Dublin Airport last Saturday.
Badminton Ireland President Betty Thompson presents Shane Wynne of Oranmore Badminton Club with the 'Coach of the Year' award at a function in the Hilton Hotel, Dublin Airport last Saturday.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

One of the highlights of the Rio Olympics had to be Scott Evans whipping off his shirt and celebrating his wins ‘Ronaldo’ style to the crowd. The moment capsulated so much emotion – of the struggles of a badminton player who had poured his heart and soul into a sport without little recognition and, indeed, often without success. Yet, here he was, thriving on the big stage.

In the Hilton Hotel last Saturday night, when Badminton Ireland began handing out its respective awards, it could have been forgiven if stewards were put on standby to potentially deal with what has now become the ‘Evans’ style celebration.

One of those to feature prominently among the accolades was Mervue native Shane Wynne, who was feted as Badminton Ireland’s ‘Coach of the Year’ as a result of the fine work he has done with juveniles and adults alike in Oranmore Badminton Club and, also, Galway badminton as a whole.

While the father-of-two was a bit more reserved in keeping his shirt on in celebrating the achievement, he admits it did not mean any less. He is thrilled. “I was surprised to be totally honest with you,” says Wynne as he takes a few minutes out from juvenile training in Oranmore on Monday evening.

“I was telling the people beside me that I never suffer from nerves but for the first time in 30 years I got a bit of a flutter in the tummy when they started reading out the names (of the candidates). It was nice to be recognised.”

With Oranmore Badminton also nominated for the ‘Club of the Year’, the Galway club was well represented at the awards. Along with Wynne, coaches Enda Gallagher, Karina Brennan and Fiona Burke, in addition to club secretary Freda Fleming, also travelled to the nation’s capital.

“I was hoping the club would get it more than myself,” says Wynne. “It was lovely to get the (Coach of the Year) award but I don’t think it was just for me. It was also for Anthony (Conneely), because Anthony is the top man here. It is for Karina, who is with us every night. And it is for Enda and Fiona who are coming up behind us. I would like to think that we are all bouncing off each other.”

Like so many clubs in the county, Oranmore BC has always maintained a strong presence on the Galway and Connacht circuit but in recent years it has begun to show a great deal more ambition by initiating an underage programme that has become the envy of the country.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.