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Mackay and Durrand take three medals at Northumberland Masters

By Iain Grant

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Caithness duo Mark Mackay and John Durrand returned with three medals from the Northumberland Masters badminton championships.

The pair were in action at the Tyneside Badminton Centre in Newcastle which attracted 245 entries from the length and breadth of the country.

Mackay had a punishing schedule that saw him clinch the men's 45/50 singles at a quarter to one on the Saturday morning before being back on court for his men's doubles less than eight hours later.

Fresh from securing the triple at the Scottish National Masters Championships in Perth the previous week, he had four opponents in the singles, played on a round-robin basis.

The top seed comfortably defeated Northern Irish-based Andrew Fenner and Yong Hu before defeating Chris Heyner, from Derbyshire, 21-17, 21-14.

That set up a gold medal shoot-out against the number two seed Simon Gilhooly, from Essex, who had won all his three matches.

Gilhooly, a bronze medallist at the recent World Masters in South Korea, provided the toughest test for Mackay but ended up going down 10-21-14-21.

Mackay then paired up with regular doubles partner Craig Lamb, who had won the 50-55 singles.

They topped their section in the 45/50 age group with straight-set victories over a Yorkshire duo and an Irish/Derbyshire pair.

In the final, they came up against top seeds Paul Mayfield (Lincolnshire) and Phil Sunderland (Yorkshire).

Mackay and his east Lothian partner lost the first set 21-15 before powering back to take the second 21-8.

They then took the early initiative in the decider before Lamb pulled up with a calf strain. He bravely fought through the pain barrier but the English pair dominated from then on and came through 21-15.

Mackay (48), from Dunnet, did not play in the mixed.

He was happy with his overall form and to have come away with a gold and a silver.

"It was a tough schedule for me, given there was little rest between the singles and the doubles.

"I had never played Simon Gilhooly before and he is a very decent player, so it was good to get the win against him.

"It was a shame Craig was injured in the final of the doubles and he did well to play on. Whether we would have won if he had been fit, we'll never know."

Durrand, from Wick, was runner-up in the over 40 men's doubles with partner Phil Stott, from Northumberland.

They won two of their round-robin games before losing out in straight sets to the number one seeds and winners, Andrew Aspinal (Staffordshire) and David Williams (Durham).

Durrand and Rachel Frobisher (Northumberland) won one and lost one in the over-35 mixed which saw them eliminated.

Jane Grant, from Thurso, also travelled to the tournament. Before it started, she guested for England in their friendly international against Ireland, winning two and losing one of her games.

Grant went on to play in the over-65 event, winning two and losing three of her games.

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