South Dublin Taekwondo


Sofia Open 2020

Jack Woolley – Sofia Open 2020 – Semi Final – 6 Point Kick – hits body, face, and drops opponent. Pic Credit: Nicholas Buffini- Taaffe, Age 6.

In the last of a burst of tournaments that saw South Dublin Taekwondo (SDTKD) athletes travel to Germany, Sweden, USA and finally Bulgaria, the Olympic Taekwondo Club based in the Arena, Tallaght attended the Sofia Open which has now become an annual fixture. In the advanced ranking event tournament, SDTKD’s two most prolific fighters Emma Cahill & Jack Woolley secured further ranking podiums adding to their thrilling start to 2020. On the Saturday Emma had 4 contests to secure a well earned bronze medal, including matches against; Serbia’s Elena RADIVOJEVIC which finished 30-7, an 18-12 victory over Greece’s Stefania Indra, a quarter final win over Greece’s  Sotiria TSINTSINOU and finally bowing out of the semi final in a drab 0-2 loss versus Serbia’s Nina STOJANOVIC  adding another medal to her growing collection. Jack Woolley continued his form off the back of last weeks gold success at the US Open with a further gold and valuable maximum ranking points with matches including; a bye in the round of 16 as he was 1st seed,  In the quarter final a disciplined 23-1 defeat of Christos Danilfis of Greece set up a semi final bout with a lively Albanian Adieni Bajrami where the match was stopped mid way through the second round at a personal record score line of 68-4, the match stopped as the Albanian had amounted 10 fouls during the contest leading to automatic disqualification. The final was against Grand Prix fighter Dionysios Rapsomanikis of Greece. After taking a 15-0 lead after round 1, Woolley eased off for the remainder of the match which ended 18-7 to the Tallaght native who secured his second ranking gold is as many weeks. The duos team mates David Phelan & Ryan Doyle we’re unable to make their desired impact both finishing outside the coveted medal position in their Junior -55kg & -63kg divisions, and first time cadet every Shauna Farrell secured a 5th finish in -47kg cadet female with some useful ranking points to assist her later in the year.
Also the Sofia Open World Ranking event, in parallel ran a non ranking event which was suitable for developing up & coming athletes. The event was ideal for SDTKD to bring along some of their future hopefuls to gain the experience of travelling alongside their experienced team mates. The ‘no head contact’ event saw 8 athletes come away with memorable experiences, all 8 of whom took home silverware including gold medals being achieved by James McGovern, Kate McGovern, Sean Byrne and Jacqueline Rosales, a silver was secured by Lisabeth Mahesh and her siblings Steve & Anna took away bronze medals along side Shae Yambao who also achieved 3rd Place. SDTKD were delighted to be awarded best team in the cadet age event. The weekends event coaching was overseen by SDTKD Coaches Robert Taaffe, Niamh Buffini & Jack Woolley all of whom were busy throughout a long weekend with many bouts under their guidance. Coach Taaffe noted, ‘Sofia is the only event on the ranking calendar that has an event alongside for developing athletes. It has now become an annual event for our club as we have seen first hand the benefits of our up & coming athletes having the chance to travel with the experienced team, and with a couple of hard fought ranking medals they seemed to really relish the experience.’  ‘We have had a good burst of events now in recent weeks, and now it’s time to assess the positives & critically appraise any potential negatives to continually improve for events after a bit of time away from the competition arena. Overall we are delighted with much progress, but there are always margins and improvements we can try to make for the bigger events later in the year.’


US Open 2020

Jack Woolley made a statement of intent with his latest performance in Orlando, Florida last weekend. The 21 year old Tallaght native returned to the location of his first senior event which was in 2015 where he stunned the world winning a bronze at the prestigious US Open whilst still a junior. In total since 2015 Woolley has attended the US Open 5 times, picking up 6 podium places as he was allowed to enter both junior and senior in 2015. His latest medal addition, the most substantial. Jack came away from his -58kg division on top of the podium at this massive tournament where he overcame the Olympic Ranked number two in the final in a gripping battle of the two taekwondo superstars. The final which was contested by 2 athletes already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics was an amazing spectacle. Jack took the lead over Jesus Tortosa Cabrera from Spain with his opening exchange, however the tall Spaniard came back and stretched ahead. With both fighters exchanging blows jack came back with a series of jumping looping head kicks over the guard of his opponent who placed 5th in the Rio Olympics. With scores going back and forth, the final score after the regulation 3 rounds of 2 minutes was tied at 15 points each. (more…)


Brace of Medals in Sweden for Cahill

Emma Cahill of South Dublin Taekwondo travelled to Sweden to participate in a double header of tournaments in the Helsingborgs Arena.

Cahill who competes at -44kg cadet attended her first of two events which was the prestigious World Taekwondo European Presidents Cup which is Europe’s most prestigious open tournament offering automatic qualification to European Major events for Cadets & Junior ages.  Emma was in a well populated division with many top fighters in her way of a podium finish to secure her place in the European Championships later this year. In the round of 32 emma faced off against Selcuk of Turkey who emma saw off convincingly 28-7. In the round of 16 Koumoudi of Greece didnt bother the Irish youngster much, once again winning by point gap 28-6. IN the quarter finals a much sterner test was provided by Ntoufa of Greece, golding Cahill to a closely fought ncounter, which cahill won 16-13 securing herself a medal and National Team placing. The semi final was to be Cahills last outing as she fell short to Korean Opponent Yoonseo who won 13-11 and went on to win the gold. Emma stood at the lower tier of the podium with her bronze medal, aslo securing ranking points at this event which had double ranking points due to its prestige and field of players.
3 days later cahill was back in the arena for the ‘Helsingborgs Open’ another European Ranking event. Making it 3 podiums out of 3 events in 3 weeks, cahill this time won silver by beating Russian opposition Tatyana Vigovskaya in her quarter final bout by a staggering 30-0, in her semi finals she went on to beat Sweden’s  Victoria Craftell by 42-2 once again by point gap finish, in the final match it was a close encounter with Russias Iana Latypova, the RUssian coming out on top with a 19-15 win. With strong ranking points secured in Emma’s first 3 events of the year which included Gold, Silver & Bronze medals, this is likely to put her as number one in the -44kg cadet female rankings which are newly introduced for children’s ages in 2020 within the European Region.
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Generation 24, Region 2 Qualifier 2020

Emma Cahill was South Dublin Taekwondo’s first athlete to be back in competition this year. Experimenting with the higher weigh of -44kg Cadet Female, Cahill came out on top of her division securing her first gold of the year. The event run in Sindelfingen, Germany was a newly introduced event called ‘World Taekwondo Europe Generation 24 Championships’. The Generation 24 event organizers note, ‘ Among the objectives of Taekwondo Europe is to remain the leading Continental Union in the Olympic Games. Therefore, the upcoming taekwondo generation representing Europe in the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 is in the spotlight, ensuring that its competency and taekwondo level skills will bring more ‘Olympic’ recognitions. On that account, Taekwondo Europe introduces ‘Generation 24’ ; a project targeting to develop taekwondo Kids and Cadets. ‘Generation 24’ includes the implementation of regional Childrens and Cadets events, enhancing in this way the progress and advancement of these age categories and their future inclusion to the elites of taekwondo.’

Cahill came out top in her region of the new tournament with a trio of victories over athletes from Switzerland, Germany & Ireland with scores of 13-5, 7-5 & 25-4 respectively. With support from back home watching on the live stream they were firmly kept on the edge of their seat as Cahill pulled back a 4-5 deficit in the closing seconds of the semi-final, hitting her German opponent with a critical had kick to take the win. The event will help the 13 year old youngster to gather momentum for upcoming events in Sweden & USA as Cahill carves out her final busy year as Cadet before transitioning to Junior in 2021.


Korean Ambassadors Cup 2019

Tallaght Leisure Centre was the host venue for the prestigious Korean Ambassadors Cup 2019 which saw 400 entrants take part in the 2 day Taekwondo Extravaganza. The event which was opened by a spectacular acrobatic demonstration by the Taekwondo Peace Corps was the final event in local club South Dublin Taekwondo’s’ calendar. Day 1 was composed of the non-combative sport discipline ‘Poomsae Competition’ [Forms]. SDTKD fielded a 20 strong team of Poomsae athletes from beginner advanced in individual competition, pairs [one male & female synchronised] and team [three same (more…)


Paris Open 2019

In her last event of a busy 2019 Emma Cahill wrapped up her competitive year with a bronze medal at the Paris Open. The event which is known as one of the largest populated events in the World Circuit added cadet age categories to the event for the first time permitting Cahill to travel with her older team mates. The new cadet age categories did not disappoint, as the centrally located country had many visiitors from the countries they share borders with & further afield as far as Japan, Usa and Australia all congregated at the beautiful venue – The Grand Dome on the outskirts of the city . The 13 year old cadet athlete showed why she is known as one to watch on the European Circuit after an excellent display. With little to play for the remainder of the year, Emma travelled with plans to adapt and try out some new approaches in her match play. Emma had a bye in her opener followed by a quarter final match with Germany’s Lilly Ettelbruck. After 2 of the three rounds, Emma was in a clear lead, and decided to change fighting style in the last round and landed some excellent extravagant kicks with a 19-2 final score. This led to a semi-final bout with current recently crowned European Champion Tasha Viskens from Belgium. Emma started the match strongly leading for much of the bout, however a well-executed spinning kick for 4 points by the Belgian drew the match level. An unfortunate slip by Cahill offered her opponent a decisive one point advantage with the match eventually ending 6-7 in favour of Belgium. With a bronze medal secured, and some disappointment of missing out so close on one of the biggest matches of her career, Cahill soon refocused to think ahead for 2020 after an excellent competitive year in 2019. With many trips under her belt, Emma secured medals close to home including; a trio of golds in Ireland, England and Scotland where she prepared tactics for international ranking events further abroad winning medals in some of the most testing events in Europe including; Silver in Belgium, Gold in Sofia, Silver in Poland and Bronze in Paris. Commending her performances in 2019 her coach Robert Taaffe noted, ‘It’s been a good year for Emma, her application in training and attention to detail has been excellent. We have targeted a list of events this year to try give Emma and her team mates the best development possible and she has really shone in some testing divisions. Although much success is attributed to her many medal winning events, lessons learned in events with no success like Germany and Luxembourg are just as important to ensure the athlete can learn more about themselves, dynamics with coaches and stay hungry. Emma has set herself up for a very exciting 2020 where it is planned to start making preparations and adaptations for a seamless transition to junior ages in the near future.’


European Championships, Bari, G4, 2019

Bari, Italy was the host city for the 2019 European Championships. The three day senior event was held in the impressive ‘Palaflorio’ stadium with Europe’s elite congregating with the primary focus securing the all important Olympic Ranking points before the end of the year. Ireland’s sole athlete was South Dublin Taekwondo’s Jack Woolley who was seed number 4 in the -58kg division. With a bye in his preliminary round, Woolley had the opportunity to view his first opponent fight early who was to be Adil Beldaki from the Netherlands. A comfortable 29-0 score for Ireland’s saw the referee stop the match at the end of the penultimate round. In the quarter final round Jack drew the 2016 European Champion Mourad Laachraoui who had beaten Jack earlier this year in the Japanese Grand Prix, however a change of approach by Woolley seen him control the match to close out with a 20-11 victory scoring a mix of basic and elaborate extravagant kicks. Now into the semi-final against top seed Jesus Tortosa Cabrera, Jack had a giant task in front of him as he faced the towering frame of the Spaniard who finished 5th in the Rio Olympics. The semi finals & finals which were live televised generated an electric atmosphere, in which Woolley grew and took great encouragement from. An early spooning kick to the body for 4 points, followed by an immediate head kick for a further 3 gave jack a 7 point early lead which he built to 12-0 after the first round, leaving the match well under his control. Carrying on the same fine momentum and composed performance, jacks precision scoring and excellent blocking enabled him to cause an upset and beat the favorite by 23-11. After overcoming the statistical favorite, jacks next task was to defeat the home favorite in the final, Vito Dell’Aquilla of Italy in his home event. The Italian who was seed number three caused deafening noise as he entered the arena, with every kick met with cheers, gasps and applause. Jack took an early 4-0 lead in the final, which the Italian brought level to 4-4. In the second round the Italians lead took a stretch and the match looked like it may have been slipping away from the Tallaght native, until he landed a ferocious spinning head kick adding 5 points to his tally. The scores were back and forth throughout until jack retook the lead in round three. In the dying seconds in the lead the Italian landed a head kick on Woolley to snatch the lead from him with little time remaining. Jacks coach Robert Taaffe played his video replay card to try contest an infraction of the rules as the final score landed, however the protest was declined by the video review jury. As the match ended the 2 young adversaries embraced and raised one another’s hands while as Jack and Ireland secured a hard fought, well earned silver medal. The grade 4 event gives entrants quadruple ranking points, so jack left with 24 ranking points to keep him within touching distance of Olympic Qualification. The remainder of the year will now comprise an outing at the French Open in a fortnight followed by the Grand Prix Final in Moscow in December.


SDTKD Autumn Grading 2019

South Dublin Taekwondo Club held their Autumn edition of their club grading. The Olympic style taekwondo club who hold 2 grading examinations per year put its members to work in a test of their knowledge of different disciplines of taekwondo including basic movements, patterns, sparring techniques and breaking. There were 36 students who presented for the exam with a further 3 who were asked to do s test refresher as preparation for future black belt gradings. At the conclusion of the grading SDTKD Head Coach & grading examiner Robert Taaffe have special mentions to two groups of grading applicants; Arsh Dubey and Samantha Makecka were commended in their consistent hard work rate throughout the grading, and a group of newly promoted ‘black tags’ including Sean Byrne, Oisin Murphy, Samantha Malecka & Eamonn O’Callaghan were applauded after sitting their final ever Colour Belt Grading before setting to work to prepare for their black belt grading next year.


Pan Am Presidents Cup G2 2019

Possibly the most important medal in recent times for Jack Woolley of Tallaght’s South Dublin Taekwondo was achieved in Las Vegas at the weekend just past. Jack who currently has achieved his maximum Olympic ranking points for 2020 travelled without the possibility of personal Olympic points, but had other possibilities to achieve. The event in the PanAmerican region dubbed the ‘Presidents Cup’ grants additional ‘bonus points’ to all from the PANAM Continent. As many of Jacks nearest challengers for Olympic qualification reside in the America’s this event was a strategic attempt to gain all important distance from his nearest adversaries in Olympic ranking. (more…)


Polish Open 2019

South Dublin Taekwondo made their now annual trip to Poland for the 2019 Polish Open / Warsaw Cup held in the Torwar Arena, Warsaw. A team of 7 athletes were fielded, made up of some experienced athletes, and some development athletes. The 2 day event in the Polish capital once again proved to be a good test for the SDTKD athletes, with lessons learned, experience gained and some medals achieved for the team. Highlights of the event include a brace of silvers achieved by Irish Athletes David Phelan and Emma Cahill. Phelan who competes at -63kg Junior found himself in a heavily populated draw with a total of 5 matches required to gold. He started off his day with a 17-10 victory over Theofanis Nikolau of Greece, who is a 2018 European Champion. The tough test started with a strong round from Greek, but after some adjustments after round 1, David took control and saw off his opponent. In his round of 16 march David faced Enzo Comprelle from France, where the 16 year old Dubliner carried on his strong momentum to win 21-7 and line up a quarter final with Matthew Howell of Great Britan. (more…)