Shock Exits for Meath and Dublin
The quarter-finals of the 2011 M Donnelly GAA Handball All-Ireland senior doubles championships witnessed two huge shocks last weekend as the 2010 champions, Meath and 2009 victors, Dublin exited the tournament both in two straight games.
Dublin’s Eoin Kennedy who successfully retained the senior hardball crown alongside Egin Jenson back in June were hot favourites to progress to the doubles semi-final but Mayo’s talented duo of Dessie Keegan and Joe McCann didn’t read the script.
The Ballaghadereen pair who both played a significant role in the club’s seventh softball open club title last month has a wealth of experience in the top flight and has previously scooped the 40×20 gong. The Connaught side raced out of the blocks and dominated the opener winning 21-4 and even though the Dubliners curbed the onslaught somewhat in the second, Mayo advanced winning 21-15 and will now prepare for Cavan’s Paul Brady and Michael Finnegan.
“Joe is so fit and fast that I can go for my shots more, as I know if I don’t quite get a winner, he is always ready to cover me. Over the years we have built up a serious understanding and I feel this is our year to take on the 60×30 as we have prepared very well on our own and together,” said Keegan.
Keegan remains on course for the double after his three game win over Tipperary’s Paul Mullins 7-21, 21-8, 21-9 in mid-week in the singles.
Kennedy will now focus exclusively on collecting his eighth consecutive softball gold medal after his triumph over Kilkenny’s Nicholas Anthony. Looking ahead to his quarter final in the singles, the softball kingpin is well aware of the task in hand.
“I’m playing Meath’s Brian Carroll in the quarter-final and I’m expecting a huge challenge from him. He has two great hands, is very offensive, very quick and most importantly he is a fearless competitor who always raises his game for big matches. For a young player, he also has considerable experience having won two softball doubles titles in the past,” said Kennedy.
Since their world title win in 2003, Cavan’s Finnegan and Brady have been the best 40×20 doubles side on the planet but they have never managed to bring that winning mentality into the 60×30 court, until now.
Brady’s return to the big court has inspired Finnegan and their surprise 21-15, 21-16 victory over Sheridan and Carroll has set up this eye catching semi-final clash with Mayo.
Carroll will now look forward to the quarter final match up with Kennedy after ousting Tipperary’s Fergal Collins 21-15, 21-19 in round 2 of the singles while veteran, Sheridan, will have to steer past Roscommon’s Ricki O’Gara and the speedy Wicklow player, Michael Cregan if he is to book the remaining quarter final spot.
The second semi-final in the doubles will involve the 2010 beaten finalists, Kilkenny’s Michael “Ducksy” Walsh and Michael Clifford and the winners of Wicklow (Michael Gregan and Johnny Willoughby) and the recently crowned Irish National’s winners, Wexford’s Barry Goff and Colin Keeling.
Kilkenny easily accounted for rising stars, Limerick’s Seamus O’Carroll and CJ Fitzpatrick 21-3, 21-11 on Sunday while the last quarter-final will be decided this week.
Amazingly, record breaker Walsh, who has amassed an incredible 16 singles and 10 doubles wins since 1985, remains in the hunt for honours in both singles and doubles at 44 years old. Tipperary’s Ger Coonan gave the Kilkenny maestro a stern test in the last 16 of the singles campaign in mid-week but Walsh used all his guile and experience to etch out the win 21-13, 18-21, 21-19.
Meanwhile, off the court, there was exciting news for every Irish handball fan with the announcement of An Bórd Pleanala’s approval of the new National Handball Centre to be built at Croke Park. “This is undoubtedly an historic era for GAA Handball in Ireland with the latest news providing another massive positive boost for the sport. With the GAA building a new €9 million ‘state-of-the-art’ National Handball Arena at Croke Park, to coincide with the rapid growth and expansion of the game in Ireland and Internationally, there is no doubt that GAA Handball will continue to witness amazing strides in the future” commented Chris Curran, C.E.O. GAA Handball Ireland.
M DONNELLY GAA Handball All-Ireland Softball Championship 2011 Senior Singles: Round 2 (16):
Dublin (Eoin Kennedy) dft Kilkenny (Nicholas Anthony) 21-2, 21-4 Kilkenny (Ducksy Walsh) dft Tipperary (Ger Coonan) 21-13, 18-21, 21-19 Mayo (Dessie Keegan) dft Tipperary (Paul Mullins) 7-21, 21-8, 21-9 Wexford (Gavin Buggy) dft Mayo (Vinnie Moran) 9-21, 21-9, 21-14 Meath (Brian Carroll) dft Tipperary (Fergal Collins) 21-15, 21-19 Wexford (Barry Goff) dft Cavan (Michael Finnegan) 21-3, 21-18 Westmeath (Robbie McCarthy) w/o Kilkenny (Ger Anthony)
M DONNELLY GAA Handball All-Ireland Softball Championship 2011 Senior Doubles Quarter Finals: Sunday 14th August 2011 in Mullingar: Kilkenny (Ducksy Walsh/Michael Clifford) dft Limerick (CJ Fitzpatrick/Seamus O’Carroll) 21-3, 21-11. Mayo (Dessie Keegan/Joe McCann) dftDublin (Eoin Kennedy/Egin Jensen) 21-4, 21-15. Cavan (Michael Finnegan/Paul Brady) dft Meath (Tom Sheridan/Brian Carroll) 21-15, 21-16.
M DONNELLY GAA Handball All-Ireland Ladies SD Semi-Finals:
Kerry (Ashley Prendiville/Maria Daly) dft Wicklow (Shauna Hilley/Patricia Doyle) 21-16, 21-6
Mayo (Pauline Gallagher/Amy Corrigan) dft Cork (Catriona Casey/Aisling O’Keefe) 8-21, 21-16, 21-16