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Pembrokeshire’s pride: Ashleigh Barnikel takes on African Open 2024 in Tunisia

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IN an inspiring showcase of dedication and skill, Pembrokeshire’s own Ashleigh Barnikel is currently competing in the prestigious African Open 2024 in Tunisia, representing Great Britain with unwavering determination. At just 23 years old, Ashleigh has already made a significant mark on the international judo scene, demonstrating her prowess and resilience across various competitions.

Hailing from Pembroke and training with the Neyland Judo Club, Barnikel has become a symbol of local pride and an inspiration to aspiring athletes across the nation. The club took to Facebook to express their support and anticipation for her performance in Tunisia, describing her as a “powerhouse” whose tenacity and strength have already led her to remarkable achievements in her young career.

Ashleigh’s journey to the African Open follows a series of commendable performances in 2023, with notable placements at major European competitions. She secured 5th place at the Malaga Senior European Cup in October and achieved the same ranking at the Gaia Senior European Cup in August, showcasing her ability to compete among Europe’s judo elite.

The African Open 2024 presents a significant opportunity for Barnikel to further establish herself on the global stage, competing against some of the best judokas from around the world. Her participation not only highlights her personal ambitions and career progression but also shines a spotlight on the quality of judo talent being nurtured within the UK, particularly in regions outside of the major cities.

As the Pembroke community and judo enthusiasts across Great Britain rally behind Ashleigh, her journey in Tunisia is more than just a competition; it’s a testament to her hard work, perseverance, and the support of her club and hometown. Regardless of the outcome, Ashleigh Barnikel’s participation in the African Open 2024 is a significant achievement and a stepping stone to greater successes in her promising career.

With the spirit of Pembroke and the strength of Neyland Judo Club behind her, Ashleigh Barnikel is not just competing; she’s carrying the hopes and dreams of her community onto the international stage. The best of luck to Ashleigh as she continues to make her mark and inspire the next generation of judo talent.

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Sport

Pembrokeshire Football Division One Round Up

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It was once again a weekend where the majority of the county’s scheduled football fell foul to waterlogged and unplayable pitches. A frustrating time for players, club members and referees alike as the last month to six weeks has been very wet and we’ve had a huge number of games called off.

In the first division Clarbeston Road continued their dominance over Hakin United as we reported in our feature game. Two other games were played in the top division Tenby made it three wins in a row when they beat Fishguard 4-2 at the Clicketts. Adam Muskett scored twice, both assisted by the man of the match Jerome Mansbridge who then scored twice to cap off a stand out performance. The result lifts the Seasiders into fifth place, while Fishguard look all but relegated as they sit rock bottom on just four points.

Tenby’s local rivals Kilgetty boosted their league position with an important win over Pennar Robins at Bush Camp. Robins missed a great opportunity to go one up when they were awarded a penalty but Edmundson failed to hit the target from the spot. Josh Bevans goal was enough to secure the three points for the visitors who now only sit two points behind Pennar with four games in hand over them. 

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Clarby make it three wins in a row over The Vikings

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It was another wet weekend with very little football being played around the county, however Clarby’s pitch was playable and they’ll be grateful it was after they beat Hakin for the third time this season. An accomplishment they could only have dreamt of before the season began.

The visitors started the game far better than the hosts with Mason Dolling causing Clarby problems down the Vikings right hand side. It was Dolling who started the move for the opener as he played the ball to Shane Walsh at the far post who cut inside and set up Alfie Stotter who finished well to make it 0-1.

The hosts were struggling to get into the game but had the better of the last 10 minutes of the half. Laurie Haworth broke through but was unable to keep  the ball under control and run it out of play, however the hosts had some momentum going into the break.

That momentum continued into the second half and Clarby equalised in the 55th minute, a Travis Jones corner was flicked on to Laurie Haworth who was at back post to header home for his team. Hosts keeper Rhys Mansell was nearly caught out from a Stotter free kick from 30 yards, it took a wicked bounce and went over the bar much to Mansell’s relief.

Subsitute Rob Morgans nearly gave Clarby when he hit the woodwork from 20 yards out, the hosts were coming close and it was forward Ben John who found the net for Fox’s team to put them in the lead with only five minutes remaining. Matthew Davies broke down the right hand side and put it on a plate for John to make it 2-1 and he made no mistake. Davies himself then got on the scoresheet himself, sealing the victory in injury-time thanks to an assist from Laurie Haworth.

We caught up with Clarby manager Matthew Fox who was delighted with the win, “The lads fully deserved that win. There’s not many teams that beat Hakin once in a season let alone three times so that is some achievement from them”

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Ireland 31-7 Wales: Hosts make it three wins from three with Welsh victory

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IRELAND’S grand ambition for a successive Six Nations Grand Slam glimmered brighter after a commanding 31-7 triumph over Wales in the thrilling Round 3 encounter at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. The Irish side, undeterred and dynamic, orchestrated a performance that encapsulated their dominance in the tournament thus far, securing a bonus-point victory that keeps their Grand Slam dreams vividly alive.

In a game that showcased Ireland’s tactical acumen and resilience, hooker Dan Sheehan, wing James Lowe, full-back Ciaran Frawley, and lock Tadhg Beirne emerged as the heroes, each crossing the whitewash to contribute to the emphatic scoreline. Jack Crowley, the out-half, was impeccable, converting all attempts at goal, including a penalty and four conversions, ensuring a flawless day with the boot.

Wales, despite trailing 17-0 by the halftime whistle, showed moments of resurgence with a penalty try that saw Beirne sin-binned. However, their efforts to claw back into the game were thwarted by a relentless Irish defence, leaving them winless after three rounds.

The victory marks a historic 18th consecutive win for Ireland at the Aviva Stadium and ties the record for an 11th successive Six Nations Test win, a testament to their continued excellence and a milestone shared with England’s streak from 2015 to 2017.

The match unfurled with Ireland asserting their dominance early on, rewarded with a penalty kick by Crowley following a high tackle on Lowe. Despite Wales’ formidable maul defence, Ireland’s persistence paid dividends with Sheehan’s try, courtesy of a powerful forward push and Crowley’s subsequent conversion enhancing their lead.

Wales’ captain, Dafydd Jenkins, found himself penalised, and Ireland opted for ambition over assurance, a decision that paid off when Lowe spectacularly finished in the corner, further extended by Crowley’s masterful conversion.

The Welsh side’s resolve was evident in their defensive efforts, yet Ireland’s strategic prowess shone through. Despite a penalty try awarded to Wales, Ireland’s control and execution remained unshaken, with their defence repelling Welsh advances effectively.

The narrative of the second half encapsulated Ireland’s capacity to absorb pressure and retaliate, highlighted by Frawley’s try in his first Test start and Beirne’s clinching score, underlining their depth and tactical intelligence.

Post-match reflections from both camps acknowledged the intensity of the encounter. Ireland’s head coach, Andy Farrell, praised the team’s adaptability and highlighted the need for review, particularly concerning penalties. Warren Gatland, Wales’ head coach, commended his team’s effort and identified physicality as a key area for growth.

Ciaran Frawley, reveling in the joy of his maiden Test start and try, underscored the team’s resilience and the collective drive that propelled them to overcome adversity and secure a significant victory.

This clash was more than a game; it was a testament to Ireland’s relentless pursuit of excellence and a stark reminder of the challenges that lie ahead in their quest for back-to-back Grand Slams. As the tournament progresses, Ireland’s blend of tactical brilliance, physical dominance, and unwavering spirit makes them formidable contenders, setting the stage for an enthralling conclusion to the Six Nations saga.#

Jack Crowley registered the first points of the day via a penalty
Ireland's Dan Sheehan celebrates after scoring their first try via a driving maul
James Lowe scored Ireland's second first-half try, after taking a superb Calvin Nash offload
Wales hit back through a penalty try decision early in the second half
Ireland's defence proved superb when under pressure in the second half
Full-back Ciaran Frawley crossed for Ireland's third try on his first Test start

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell told ITV Sport said: “There is a famous saying that each game takes it’s own course and that game had a bit of everything really from the sublime to the ridiculous.

“I thought we were a bit passive in the first half but I thought Wales were tenacious in defence. I thought we should have capitalised more.

“We had a good chat at half-time. The penalty count was evened up, we will have a good luck at that.

“Delighted to get that bonus point.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said after the game: “I can’t question how hard and the effort from the players. They probably out muscled us a bit in terms of collisions. That is a lesson for us.

“I feel like the score-line blew out a bit and probably wasn’t reflective of the effort we put in.

“You are playing against one of the best teams in the world and they thoroughly deserved to win with the quality they have got. We are on a journey.”

Try-scorer Ciaran Frawley after his first Test start said added: “Look, it was a bit of clunky in the first half.

“We were aware of that at half time. It was probably not the start we wanted, they came out and scored and we got the yellow card but to bounce back through all the adversity thrown at us and get the bonus point win was pretty special.

“I was delighted to get over. The players here are unbelievable, they know how to win.”

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