Ireland Promoted To Group II

The Irish Davis Cup team return to Group II after defeat of Bulgaria

The 2017 Irish Davis Cup team
The Irish Davis Cup team after it defeated Bulgaria in the Group II promotion play-off | Tennis Ireland

By Stephen Higgins | 9 April 2017

12 months after a painful relegation play-off loss to Cyprus, Conor Niland's Irish side navigated their way back to Group II of the Davis Cup via Sozopol, Bulgaria.

Sam Barry and David O'Hare teamed up in the final rubber of the Group III promotion decider against the home nation and took it in straight sets. The Irish lads notched a 6-1 7-6 (8) victory over Dimitar Kuzmanov/Aleksandar Lazov in 82 minutes to claim the tie 2-1.

It was a perfect end to a tense day for the (tennis) Boys In Green. The men who would ultimately chart their nation's course back to Group II began proceedings early on Saturday morning.

Ireland's final Pool D tie with Montenegro was even after Friday's play with a singles victory apiece for Barry and Ljubomir Celebic. Barry & O'Hare's 6-2 6-4 win over Celebic/Rrezart Cungu in the doubles rubber confirmed Ireland's progress to the promotion play-off at their opponent's expense.

Ireland finished top of Pool D with three ties won, eight victories to one loss. Montenegro finished second with Andorra (3rd) and Kosovo (4th) in the remaining spots.

The promotion clash versus Bulgaria, a team shorn of world no.12 Grigor Dimitrov, began just after 10am on Saturday.

World no.492 Kuzmanov made an admirable comeback in the first rubber, upsetting Barry 4-6 6-3 7-6 (8) in three hours. McGee levelled the tie with a 6-2 4-6 6-1 victory over the 353-ranked Lazov.

The final rubber, at least initially, was a procession for Barry/O'Hare as they lost just one game in the first set. The Bulgarians made the second much tougher though, and forced a tie-break.

Despite a strong start from the home pair in the shootout, the Irish pair recovered from set point down to nab the match in straights and get Irish eyes smiling at the Holiday Village Santa Marina.

After a week of impressive play from James McGee, Sam Barry, Peter Bothwell and David O'Hare, Ireland will return to Group II (Europe/Africa) of the Davis Cup in 2018.