Jennings gets Team Ireland off to winning start – EYOF

European Youth Olympic Festival: Opening Ceremony Day  

Tennis action in Maribor kicks off a week of competition for Team Ireland

Team Ireland’s Eoghan Jennings (tennis) got the Irish campaign at the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) off to a strong start, winning his opening match in the Boy’s Singles. His teammate Zac Naughton was also playing on the first day of the competition in Maribor, Slovenia. The EYOF is a significant event on the youth calendar, as it replicates the Olympic multi-sport model, preparing athletes for future Games. Tonight’s Opening Ceremony will represent the official opening of the youth event which runs from the 23 – 29 July 2023.


Competition in some sports kicked off ahead of tonight’s official opening, with Irish tennis players Jennings and Naughton both stepping up to the mark in the Boy’s Singles and producing top-class performances. From Westport, Jennings put in a dominant performance in his match against Latvia’s Tomass reinis Dalderis to win convincingly 2-0. Competing in his second EYOF, the Castlebar Tennis Club player took control from the start, winning 6-1, 6-2. Speaking after his match, Jennings said,


“I thought I played pretty well. At the start, the nerves crept in, but as I went on I got more into it and played a lot better. The heat got a bit to me in the second set, I got a bit tired, and the ball started dying a bit and I needed more energy to hit them bigger, but I was lucky enough to close it off at 6-2. A lot of the results can vary at this level, you don’t know what you are coming up against, so prepare as much as you can.”



Naughton’s battle against Slovakian player Peter Zavacky went down to the wire, with the Wicklow player ultimately losing 2-1 in a gutsy match that could have gone either way. Naughton took the first set 6-2, in his debut at the EYOF. Zvacky powered back with a 7-6 win in the second set, and the final and deciding set saw the Irish fifteen-year-old lose out with a 6-4 defeat after a long day on the court.


“It was a tough match and a long day. We had been there since ten o’clock in the morning because all the matches were very long. I got on eventually at three o’clock. I got off to a good start, I was playing well and aggressive. In the second set, he started playing a lot better and won it in a tie-break, I had my chances, but it just wasn’t my set. It was a good game, and it was a positive match.”


Tomorrow all four tennis players will be in action, with Naughton teaming up with Jennings in the Boy’s Doubles, and both Jennifer Marsh and Lydia Brennan competing also. Naughton said,


“I am looking forward to playing doubles with Eoghan tomorrow, we are competing against two Turkish lads, from the five seeds, but there’s nobody we can’t beat, just go out there and have some fun.”


Tonight’s Opening Ceremony is taking place in the centre of Slovenian Football, the Stadium Ljudski VRT, at a unique ceremony that will celebrate the youth. The ceremony starts at 19:30 Irish time, and centres on the theme ‘The Youth is for the Youth,’ in an event that is staged and run by young people, aged thirty and under. Earlier this week the Permanent TSB Flagbearers for Team Ireland were revealed as cyclist Aliyah Rafferty and discus thrower Cian Crampton.


Speaking ahead of the Opening Ceremony and of what will be a full week of competition featuring forty-two athletes across five sports, Olympic Federation of Ireland Chef de Mission for the EYOF, Nancy Chillingworth said,


“This will be an action-packed week, and it’s great to have kicked it off with Zac and Eoghan in tennis today. There will be some new additions to the programme, like Mountain Biking, and also we have an added anomaly of these Games happening just a year after the last EYOF, which means we have athletes back for a second time. Having that kind of experience within the athlete team really feeds into building that sense of performance throughout the whole team. We can even see that sense of progression in the support staff, with the likes of Cliona Walsh here as a tennis coach, she competed in the EYOF in Baku in 2019!


“The EYOF is all about experience, and while everyone comes here to compete and to perform to their best, it is also about learning. At the end of this week, we would love for athletes to come away with a little bit more understanding of what a performance environment is like, and to learn what the Team Ireland culture is, and we want them to have that aspiration to really be part of that through to senior Games.”


Tomorrow will see Team Ireland action in athletics, swimming and tennis, with medals up for grabs in some of the athletics events. Last year’s bronze medallist in the Boy’s 1500m, Sean Cronin, will be contesting his heats, with Clodagh Gill competing in the Girl’s 3000m Final, and Seamus Clarke, son of 1996 Olympian Deirdre Clarke (née Gallagher) competing in the Boy’s 5000m Race Walk.


Results 23 July 2023


Boys Singles Round 1:

Eoghan Jennings (IRL) BEAT Tomass reinis Dalderis (LAT) 2 – 0 (6-1, 6-2)

Zac Naughton (IRL) Vs Peter Zavacky (SVK)


Competition Schedule 24 July 2023 – times Irish with local in brackets.


09:25 (10:25) Sean Cronin, Boys 1500m, Round 1

09:55 (10:55) Oisin Lynch, Boys 800m, Round 1

10:30 (11:30) Leila Colfer, Girls 100m, Round 1

12:00 (13:00) Jesse Osas, Boys 100m, Round 1

16:05 (17:05) Andrew Cooper, Boys Shot Put, Qualification A/B

16:40 (17:40) Hollie Kilroe, Girls 400m, Round 1

17:05 (18:05) Oisin McEvoy, Boys 400m, Round 1

17:40 (18:40) Clodagh Gill, Girls 3000m Final

18:25 (19:25) Seamus Clarke, Boys 5000m Race Walk Final



08:30 (09:30) Ava Jones, Girls 100m Freestyle, Heats

08:44 (09:44) Denis O’Brien, Boys 400m Freestyle, Heats

09:32 (10:32) Brydan Byrne, Boys 100m Backstroke, Heats

09:50 (10:50) Niamh Connery, Girls 400m IM, Heats

17:08 (18:08) Denis O’Brien, Boys 400m Freestyle Finals

17:15 (18:15) Ava Jones, Girls 100m Freestyle Semis

17:50 (18:50) Brydan Byrne, Boys 100m Backstroke Semis


Tennis (times listed as not before this time):

08:15 (09:15) Jennifer Marsh (IRL) V Odeta Panasa (LAT) Court 7

09:30 (10:30) Lydia Brennan (IRL) V Marie Johanna Lapimaa (EST) Court 9

13:30 (14:30) Eoghan Jennings/Zac Naughton (IRL) V Aren Baybars/Doruk Calikoglu (TUR) Court 2

13:30 (14:30) Jennifer Marsh/Lydia Brennan (IRL) V Augusta Lucia Grau Kristenson/Sophia Izabella Ragus (DEN) Court 7


The full team announcement for the EYOF can be viewed HERE.


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