Friday 20 September 2019

Handball world in mourning

In a week where the handball lost its greatest son, Michael 'Ducksie' Walsh, there was an air of sadness in 60 x 30 courts all over the country.

A man who played the game to the maximum from a young age collected an amazing 38 Senior All-Ireland titles in a fantastic career and was a world champion on numerous occasions.

He will be sorely missed by everyone in Wexford handball, with 'Ducksie' a great friend to many Wexford handballers and the kind of man who had time for every player as an opponent, supporter and coach.

Everyone in Wexford handball would like to extend their sympathy to his family and friends on the sad passing of the hero of the game.

On the court in the Leinster handball championships it was a successful week for the purple and gold. David Kenny produced an amazing fightback to see off Carlow's Daniel Fenlon in the semi-final of the Junior singles.

This was a truly memorable and absorbing game with both players showing all the skills. Fenlon took the opening set 21-19 and looked set to pounce in set number two as well with a serve on 20-20, but Castlebridge man Kenny showed grit and determination and took it 21-20.

With momentum now in his side, Kenny romped up through the gears and took the deciding set 21-13.

Noel Holohan won a first-ever Leinster singles title as he took a very tight Over-35 'B' singles final on Wednesday in Castlebridge against fellow Wexford man Michael Goggins.

Holohan led for most of the opening set but Goggins found the bottom of the wall towards the end and moved into a 20-17 lead.

He was unlucky to see his kill shot on set point skid out the floor and from the reserve Holohan got in and hit four winners on the bounce to claim a crucial 21-20 win.

Holohan was quick off the mark in the second set, moving into a 6-1 lead.

Again Goggins fought back well but in the middle of the second set Holohan stepped up the tempo and got on a winning run to close it out 21-12.

In the same venue on the same night an all-Wexford final of the Emerald Masters 'B' singles saw Tom Byrne from Kilmyshall and Nicky Casey from St. Mary's clash.

In the opening set Byrne found the key shots in a 21-6 win.

The second set saw Casey really go for it and he played much better handball, however after a great battle Byrne was finding winners easier to come by as the set wore on and he claimed the title 21-12.

There was no such luck for Stephen Murphy in the Leinster final of the Golden Masters 'B' singles. A frantic opening set went the way of Kildare's Brendan Higginbottom 21-19, and that seemed to lift him and flatten Murphy who lost out 21-2 in the second.

The curtain came down on the Wexford 60 x 30 championships with the remaining finals of a very successful softball season.

There was a great story to finish the championships as Taghmon Handball Club celebrated its first title since the club was reformed last year when Mark Cardiff and Mickie Murphy collected the Junior 'D' doubles title with a 21-8, 21-1 win over Ballymitty's Robert Cogley and James Moran.

Stephen Murphy from Castlebridge had to show all his experience to capture a fourth Golden Masters 'B' singles title on the trot as he beat Mick Carty from Taghmon. Amazingly Murphy was 15-3 down in the opening set before he came back to win 21-16.

Carty made no mistake when in the winning position in the second game and took it 21-8 to set up a tie-breaker. Murphy regained the momentum though and took the set and title on a 21-14 scoreline.

In a repeat of their Leinster final earlier in the week, Tom Byrne again defeated Nicky Casey in the final of the Emerald Masters 'B' singles.

This time Casey from St. Mary's gave his all in the first set before losing 21-17. Kilmyshall's Byrne built on this win and forged home in the second set 21-6.

The team of four competition for Junior 'B', 'C' and 'D' players saw Kilmyshall collect a two-in-a-row as their team of Alan Armstrong, Tommy Armstrong, Timmy Farrell and James Nolan were 95-74 winners over Ballymitty who were represented by J.R. Finn, David Cleary, Marty Kinsella and Alan O'Neill.

Wexford People