Ireland crowned Inter-Regional champions following dramatic tournament

Ireland were crowned U16s Boys’ Inter-Regional Championships following a dramatic tournament packed full of action and exciting matches.

It included a four-way tie in Group B, a high-scoring penalty shoot-out to determine who won the fifth and sixth play-off match and a magnificent 16-goal final.

Ireland topped Group A with a 100 per cent record and were joined in the semi-finals by North West, who won all their three remaining matches to finish second.

In Group B, four teams finished on five points, which led to the championship conditions being used to determine the outcome.

The final placings would have been finalised on goal difference but East Midlands and London Sharks were still tied – therefore the result between the two teams was used.

East Midlands won that match 3-1 so they therefore topped the group.

As the South West and South East drew their match 5-5, their rankings in the group was determined on overall goal difference.

It meant London Sharks joined the East Midlands in playing in the last four – and South West and South East agonisingly missing out.

South West were involved in the fifth and sixth play-off match where they faced Scotland.

With a place in Division One in 2024 up for grabs, a keenly-contested game went to penalties – with South West eventually prevailing 16-15.

John Spicer, South West’s head coach, said: “I have coached at many Inter Regionals but not had such a roller-coaster ride as this one. 

Great weekend

“Drawing three games in the group stage, not losing a game and having four teams on five points was quite unique in my book.

“Then to top that, an 11-11 draw in the fifth-sixth play-off with Scotland. 

“Penalty shoot-out, we miss the first two penalties, then they miss the last two penalties. Now sudden death – they miss, we score. 

“What emotion, you couldn’t write it. Bring on Division One in 2024.”

In the last four fixtures, Ireland defeated London Sharks 13-7 to set up a final against North West who were 15-7 winners over East Midlands.

Ireland made a great start to the final, leading 5-2 after the opening quarter.

However, they were pegged back by a determined North West side and the score was 6-6 in the third period.

Ireland took control in the final quarter though and sealed a 9-7 triumph to win the title.

The tournament was hosted by the South West Region and played at Millfield School, Somerset.

Mike Coles, director and water polo manager for the South West Region, said: “Ireland must be congratulated on a well-earned win to take the gold medals.

“However, all teams must be congratulated on a great weekend of water polo. Special thanks must also go to the referees and table officials, without whom there would be no competition.”

MVP Awards

  • Overall MVP: Oliver Salimbeni (North West)
  • Top goalkeeper:  Riaz Garnie (London)
  • Top goalscorer: Fionn Byrne (Ireland)
  • East: Ed Carpenter
  • East Midlands: Mario Vasconcellos-Blanch
  • Ireland: Fionn Byrne
  • London: Riaz Garnie
  • North East: Kyle Alderson
  • North West: Oliver Salimbeni
  • Scotland: Fraser Vanderneulen
  • South East: Joey Taylor
  • South West: Ali-James Demir
  • West Midlands: Max Spragg

Fixtures and results

West Midlands5 – 10EastFT
London Sharks1 – 3East MidlandsFT
Scotland Saltires3 – 7IrelandFT
North East Steelers3 – 7South WestFT
North West10 – 3West MidlandsFT
South East2 – 5London SharksFT
Ireland10 – 5EastFT
South West4 – 4East MidlandsFT
Scotland Saltires5 – 7North WestFT
North East Steelers5 – 8South EastFT
West Midlands2 – 10IrelandFT
London Sharks4 – 4South WestFT
North West10 – 1EastFT
South East5 – 4East MidlandsFT
Scotland Saltires8 – 5West MidlandsFT
North East Steelers6 – 7London SharksFT
North West3 – 6IrelandFT
South East5 – 5South WestFT
East8 – 12Scotland SaltiresFT
East Midlands8 – 4North East SteelersFT
Group A Team
North West4301156
Scotland Saltires420214
West Midlands4004-230
Group B Team
East Midlands421155
London Sharks421125
South West413045
South East421115
North East Steelers4004-120
5th-8th Play-off
Scotland Saltires16 – 6South EastFT
South West14 – 7EastFT
Semi Finals
Ireland13 – 7London SharksFT
East Midlands7 – 15North WestFT
9th-10th Play-off
West Midlands23 – 10North East SteelersFT
5th-6th Play-off
Scotland Saltires15 – 16South WestFT
7th-8th Play-off
South East13 – 15EastFT
Bronze Medal Match
London Sharks12 – 9East MidlandsFT
Gold Medal Match
Ireland9-7North WestFT