Ballymoney has a long and successful link with the sport of table tennis with the name of Osmond readily associated with it.
Osmond Table Tennis Club was established over 50 years ago with its premises on the Dervock Road where the Free Presbyterian School now resides.
It was the well known businessman R J Carson who founded the club and also named it after his residence, Osmond House. The club had one table with seats all around, a stone floor and was based in the shed beside RJ’s house.
Davy McBride from Balnamore was the Coach within the Osmond Club. Davy was also very well known as an accomplished accordion player and played in the Big Band scene in the 1960’s. Davy, who sadly passed away some years ago, installed a system of coaching which was well ahead of the time, intense and yet at the same time fun.
Players mostly came from the Ballymoney area and played in the Ballymena & District league which on longer exists. Names such as Jackie Fall, Ivan Hegarty, Jim Carton, Frankie McDonald, Lawrence and Davy Junior McBride, Robert Orr, Alan Wallace and John Hegarty to name but a few all played in leagues on a regular basis. Stepping back in time a little the famous pen-holder Joe Doherty was also a leading light and along with Davy McBride collected many titles in the 60’s and 70’s.
The first player to represent Ulster under the tutelage of Davy McBride was Neil Graham who reached number 1 at Under 14 level. Following on from Neil was Brian Orr, John Fall and Colin Inglis who all played at National level on numerous occasions. Andrew Dennison also came through the ranks and went on to achieve most representing Ireland at Senior level.
This season with the continued sponsorship from Flash in the Pan the Ballymoney Club will name its teams Osmond in reference to the history this name means to table tennis circles the length and breath of Ireland and beyond.
Osmond will be entering the Co Antrim league with teams in the top flight as well as Div 2 and Div 3. Last season Ballymoney lost it’s grip on the Premier league finishing runner up. It is the club’s main priority this season to regain the top position. Returning from injury this season is Brian Orr and along with John Fall, Frank Shirley, James Steele and Captain Gary McClelland it is a realistic goal.
Paul McGuiggan will be hoping for improved results in Div 2 having ended up in the wrong half of the Division last season. 17 year old Thomas McCann who has spent time training in Poland this summer will be hoping to dominate at this level and will be ably assisted by Ruth McGilligan and Aaron Douglas.
The club meets on a Monday night at The Methodist Church Hall on Seymour Street, Ballymoney from 6.30 to 8.00 and new members young and old are always welcome.