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Tuesday 20 August 2019

Dream double for mighty Model handballing legends

WEXFORD handball celebrated a dream double in Williamstown county Galway as the Minor and Senior doubles crowns were collected on a memorable Saturday evening, where Barry Goff and Colin Keeling took the top title.

In what has been a fantastic season once again for Wexford in the big alley courts of Ireland, last Saturday capped it off in fine style as Barry Goff and Colin Keeling put in a dominant display to collect the M.Donnelly GAA Handball Senior doubles title and defeat Mayo pair Dessie Keegan and Joe McCann. The evening had began in fantastic fashion as Dean Corrigan and Corey Murphy turned the minor final completely around in their fashion to win the minor doubles title to add to the U-14 and U-16 doubles titles collected last weekend meaning the purple and gold have the four premier doubles titles in the big alley all secured this season.

After winning a few tournaments and also winning the first ever Irish Nationals Senior Doubles title the Wexford pair of Goff and Keeling carried high hopes in this year's senior championship and after digging out a win in the semi-finals over Michael Duxie Walsh and Michael Clifford last weekend they set themselves up for the Mayo men of Keegan and McCann.

Huge Wexford support travelled for the double success and the travelling supporters were treated to some amazing handball as all four players gave the spectators some of the most remarkable handball shots in a fantastic final. Dessie Keegan treated all handball fans to some thunderous kill shots in the opening set many of them stone dead kills from 40 or 50 feet. The opening set was very close for long stages as both sets of players settled into their game however Barry and Colin were the first two to find their rhythm with Keeling driving the ball around the alley with awesome power while Goff delivered some fine passing shots and killed a few crucial balls at vital stages to capture the first set for the Model County on a 21-12 score line.

The second set was as good as has been seen for a long time as Mayo and Wexford went for everything and the ball powered around the court with every winning effort being greeted to huge applause from the crowd and every Wexford point shook the arena as Wexford looked close to victory leading by 17-12 in the second set.

However Dessie Keegan and Joe McCann had not played their full deck and upped their performance to close the game to 17-18 in the favour of Goff and Keeling. But when the chips were down its was all about the next three aces and in awesome fashion Wexford took the honours and the senior doubles title for the first time in 11 years when Colin Keeling was last time a winner in a partnership with Tommy Hynes.

The new partnership that Keeling and Barry Goff have formed over the last two years has produced the perfect season of handball as they went unbeaten throughout the whole year in competitive doubles handball.

The scenes at the end were incredible as the purple and gold army of supporters, past players, officials and the players' families celebrated the wins in style.

The evening had began with the feel good factor as the minor doubles final saw Dean Corrigan and Corey Murphy deliver a stunning show of determination and come back handball to take the minor doubles title.

In last year's semi-final Mark Nally was the thorn in the side of the Castlebridge duo in the home patch however on this occasion it looked like once again Nally would be in the winner's corner with Cathal Connolly on this occasion as the Roscommon men took the opening set 21-13. It needed the Wexford men to stand up and be counted and go for everything.

With some impressive play by both players fine serving by Murphy and some great killing shots add in the awesome corner kills by Corrigan the Model County were soon on parity in games after a 21-10 second set win.

It got better as Corrigan ran the show and sealed the deal with powerful handball to wrap up a famous 21-15 win in the third set. It was a terrific gutsy performance with the huge support of Wexford people helping the boys to thrive on the momentum swing they got in the second set and with people like Brian Murphy and Corey's brother Jason Murphy on the back wall giving advice it was a huge night of celebration for the two Castlebridge club men.

Next weekend is the end of the road for the 60 x 30 season and two more titles are within the grasp of county Wexford. On Sunday afternoon in Clogh, Kilkenny at 1pm Gavin Buggy and Paul Carthy play Paul Mullins and Adrian Johnson from Tipperary in the Over 35 A doubles final. Also on Sunday at 1pm in Mullingar David Kenny and Diarmuid Smyth meet Martin Rafftery and Jamie Murray in the final of the Junior B singles.

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