ITA Cork Open Report

ITA Cork Open Report

The 2012 edition of the ITA Cork Open Championships took place on the 18th and 19th of February. The long running annual competition was held for the second time in Neptune Stadium, which is situated in the heart of Cork City. The modern stadium was selected as a venue to enhance the atmosphere of the event and to cater for the growing number of competitors attending the tournament per annum. This year 578 participants representing 31 clubs from throughout Ireland took part. Out of that 560 came from within ITA, 14 from RITA, 2 from INTA and 2 from TKDI.

The competition was open to juniors, cadets (14-17 yrs) and for the first time in its history, senior competitors. Many members of the Irish Taekwon-do team were in attendance including World and European medalists such as; Dylan Fitzgibbon (2x World Champion), Adam Shelly (2011 European Champion), Ryan Shelly (2011 European Champion), Katy Laffan (2011 European Champion), Sarah Lehane (2011 European Champion), Chloe Aboud (2011 European Champion), Naomi Coonghe (2011 European Champion), Stephen Ryan (2011 World Championship Silver Medalist) and Hong k Looi (2011 World Championship Silver Medalist) and many others.


The tournament began at 10 am sharp on both days and finished approximately within its designated time frame. This was due to the efficient, committed and professional work of the tournament and umpire committee in preparation leading up to and during the event, which includes Mr. Adrian Byrne (Tournament Administrator), Mr. Mark Buckley (Tournament Director), Mr. Stephen Ryan (Umpire Chairperson), Mr. Ken Leahy (Vice-Umpire Chairperson) and Ms. Laura Cullen (Tournament IT Coordinator).

Mr. Adrian Byrne, Tournament Administrator, assisted by Ms. Cullen and Mr. Ryan, had all the draws and categories finalized in advance, enabling each coach to supply their competitors with individual schedules in sticker form, showing what category they were competing in, which ring and at the exact time each category began. This was possible as a result of the ITA T5 system in operation in all ITA competitions.

30 umpires were available on Saturday while 56 on Sunday. All umpires were asked to pre- register for the event ensuring that Mr. Stephen Ryan, Umpire Chairperson and Mr. Ken Leahy, Vice-Umpire Chairperson could designate all ring councils in advance guaranteeing that each ring area was able to run on time and to work together harmoniously, supervised at all times by the Umpire Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, adding to the professionalism of the event. It is noteworthy that the Irish Taekwon-do Association held an umpire course in January, previous to the Cork Open and as a result all umpires present were trained to the highest standard increasing the level of fairness, transparency and confidence in the competition.

The arena itself was decorated with various Taekwon-do banners; large ITF and AETF flags and each ring had its own ITA tablecloths enhancing the atmosphere and visual effect of the event. Three ITF electronic scoring systems were also in operation for the sparring divisions, displaying the results on state of the art, 50 inch mounted plasma screens.

Cadets and seniors competed on Saturday 18th February in sparring, patterns, special technique and power. All black belt sparring divisions were conducted using pool and requalification systems guaranteeing a greater amount of bouts for all competitors, allowing them to gain invaluable experience and it also created a more entertaining spectacle for all spectators present.

The ITA coaching team recently created a new selection process for the national team, concentrating on continuous performance in designated events ensuring that long- term performance is rewarded and for promotion the continuous development of the Irish Taekwon-do Team. The 2012 Cork Open Championships was designated as one of the selection events for the 2013 European Championships allowing competitors to gain valuable points towards earning a position within the team. This resulted in an extremely high standard, competitive and entertaining tournament, highlighting the strength of Taekwon-do in Ireland.

There were many memorable bouts on the day most notably, Mr. Stephen Ryan and Mr. Hong k Looi in both the final of the 4th-6th degree patterns and the Male -71kg sparring division and Ms. Naomi Coonghe and Ms. Bianca Pantel in the female -52kg sparring.

On Sunday 19th, over 450 junior competitors under the age of 13, from yellow to black belt took part in the competition. The tournament and umpire committee worked tirelessly to ensure safety as the top priority in the tournament and the promotion of skill development in sparring divisions. The level of competition in the junior categories was excellent, revealing a very positive future for Taekwon-do in Ireland.

During the junior event, a new coaching system was employed to ensure a more efficient and fair tournament. Only pre-registered cadets (14-17yrs) who were in possession of an eligible coaching pass were allowed to coach for their prospective clubs. Regardless of the coaching passes, coaching of juniors was only permitted if both competitors had a coach present. This system was put in place to remove unnecessary congestion around the ring area and to avoid any junior competitor being put at an unfair disadvantage in their bouts as well as helping to ease any nerves juniors may experience. The system was a huge success and was commented on positively by many instructors, competitors and parents as enhancing the enjoyment and quality of the event as well as promoting further competition for junior participants.

During the event, the ITA had the pleasure and privilege of having 3 Masters; Master Kenneth Wheatley 7th degree (ITA President), Master Patrick O’Rourke 7th degree and Master Neil Franks 7th degree, in attendance who were actively involved in the running of the competition, offering insights and invaluable help over the course of both days.

The 2012 Cork Open Championships was an incredibly successful and expertly organized event. A sincere thank you goes to the tournament and umpire committee for the massive work put in to the organization of the event and for the efficient running of the competition on both days. The tireless work of the umpires on both days must also be acknowledged, as without their help, the event would not be possible. A huge thanks to all competitors, coaches, supporters and parents for supporting the event. Finally a special thank you to Mr. Mark Buckley for leading the local organizing committee for the event.

The next Cork Open Championships shall be on in February 2013 and is a highly anticipated event.


Best overall Male Competitor: (Shared)

Dylan Fitzgibbon (3 gold, 1 silver)

Jamie Williams (3 gold, 1 silver)


Best overall Female Competitor: 

Agnieszka Aziewicz (4 gold)


Best Overall Club: 

Integrity Martial Arts Academy (15 gold, 15 silver, 9 bronze = 84 points)

Overall Club Standings (Top Ten Clubs): 


  3 2 1  
Results Gold Silver Bronze Points
Academy 15 15 9 84
North Mon-Carrigaline TKD 10 16 13 75
Dublin ITF 15 7 2 61
Shannon TKD Team 7 16 2 55
waterford/tipperary 7 6 7 40
Cork ITA 5 8 9 40
Quin TKD Team 7 4 3 32
Killester 7 4 2 31
Turners Cross T.K.D.A. 5 4 4 27
Kingdom TKD 5 3 6 27


Report by:

Philip McAuliffe (Co-national PRO)

Carl Smullen (Co-national PRO)

Posted by Stephen Ryan