Irish Handball Nationals 60 x 30 Doubles
Barry Goffand Colin Keeling the current kings of big alley handball in Ireland laid down a serious marker to any contenders to their title this season, by recording a two in a row of triumphs in the 60 x 30 Irish Nationals which took place in Kilkenny venues over the weekend.
Last years All Ireland champions opened their weekend with a comfortable 31-5 win over Kilkenny duo Nicky Anthony and Brian Minogue. Tougher challenges lay ahead forthe model county duo with senior singles champion in the big court Robbie McCarthy joining with Michael Gregan from Wicklow in the semi final it was atough game before the St Mary’s / Castlebridge duo prevailed 31-13.
The final was expected to be a classic with the Wexford duo up against Eoin Kennedy from Dublin a former multiple All Ireland Senior Singles champion joining with his World Doubles partner from Cavan Michael Finnegan. It was a spectacle for the game of handball as both pairings gave all for the win but the continuity of the Wexford partnership andfantastic kill shots proved vital in the end as Goff and Keeling retained their title on a 31-24 score line in the final.
This wasnot the only Wexford success on Nationals weekend as Tommy Hynes and Paul Carthy put together a winning partnership in the Masters Doubles grade. The StMary’s club players got about their business well in the opening round and inthe semi final they beat Pat Quaile (Wicklow) and John Ryan (Carlow) 31-8. The final was won on a similar score line with the hard hitting power of Hynes andgreat serving by Carthy proving far too much for Kilkenny duo Eddie Burke and Nicky Reilly as the purple and gold men won 31-7.
Galeon Riordan from Ballyhogue was a winner in the boys under 17 category as he teamed up with south east counterpart Martins Mullins from Carlow to take the winners prize. In a very close final the south east combination worked best anddefeated Michael Keating and Daniel Riordan from Cork 31-20.
Paul Lambert teamed up with Offaly star David Hope in the Men’s B doubles event buttheir quest for glory faltered at the final hurdle as they went down to the all Tipperary pairing of Denis White and John Ferncombe on a 31-23 score line.
The good thing about the Nationals event is that it accommodates early round losers into plate competitions that provide a winning platform for those who were unluckyin the opening rounds. This route of success was exploited by two all Wexford combinations as Daniel Kavanagh and Patrick Boland won the boys under 13 doubles plate final defeating Anthony Butler and Adam Walsh also a Wexford duoon a 21-16 score line in the final..
The under 15 plate final also came to Wexford as Castlebridge duo Oisin Foley and Tomas Hall defeated Evan Murphy and Denis Donigan from Meath on a 21-4 score line.
Leinster 60 x 30 handball championships
It was another busy and fruitful week on the handball courts of Leinster in the 60 x 30 competitions withsome more fantastic wins for Wexford players through out the week.
Junior singles tops the bill this week where two Wexford players now remain incontention for the top honours. Paul Lambert began the week with success over Peter Flanagan from Meath winning on a 21-16, 21-17 score line , however he knocked out by a fellow county man in the next round as Darren O’Toole put together a fantastic second and third game to see off Lambert who had cruisedto the first game success 21-8, however O’Toole who powers the ball around thecourt delivered the match winning shots from there till the end and completed a21-5, 21-13 win over Lambert.
Miles Connors is the second Wexford man left standing in this year’s junior singlesas he powered his way along in impressive fashion beating up and coming starDaniel Fenlon from Carlow 21-12, 21-14 and between himself and Darren O’Toolethere may be gold returning to Wexford very soon.
David Kenny bowed out of the same competition, but came agonisingly close to success against Keith Kavanagh from Wicklow but eventually lost out 21-19, 19-21, 21-11.
MichaelBusher and JR Finn are both still standing in the Junior B singles after goodwins in the past week. Michael Busher from Bridgetown wasted little time in hammering Samtemple from Kildare 21-1, 21-3, however JR Finn had to pull out all the stops against Michael Donovan from Laois before advancing 21-15, 5-21, and 21-15.
Gavin Buggy survived an early scare in the over 35 singles event as Pat Quaile from Wicklow took the opening set 21-11 against the St Mary’s man , but the champion Buggy rediscovered his form and took the remaining two sets at his ease on 21-7, 21-1 score lines.
Jason Murphy bowed out of the under 21 championship at the penultimate stage as he was downed by Patrick Funchion from Kilkenny with the marble city man winning 21-11, 21-10. Donal Doyle is keeping the Wexford flag flying in the Silver Masters B singles as he got over Jimmy Shanahan last week from Kilkenny on a 21-17, 21-10 score line.