By Martin Lalor
As the Inter County 60 x 30 season draws to a close, the last All Ireland adult final featuring a Kilkenny player took place in Croke Park on Saturday. In the Intermediate Singles decider there was disappointment for William Love as he lost the opportunity of reaching Senior status when beaten in three sets.
The Clogh player had suffered disappointment the previous week when, partnered by his brother Daniel, they lost the Doubles final to Cavan. On Saturday at headquarters, William lost a close first game, 21-17, levelled the match when taking the second set 21-8, and in the deciding third game, his opponent, Ollie Conway from Galway, claimed the title when winning 21-17.
This weekend it is the turn of the Juveniles to wrap up their 60 x 30 season, with All Ireland finals taking place in Tyrone and Cavan on Sunday. Of the fifteen titles on offer, local players contest five of the finals, three in Girls and two in Boys.
In Loughmacrory, Tyrone, Roisin O’Keeffe (Kilfane) gets proceedings started in Girls U14 Singles, followed up by her sister, Dearbhail O’Keeffe in the Girls U16 decider. The third match at the Tyrone venue, the Mothel/Galmoy pairing of Noelle Dowling and Kellyanne Ryan contest the Girls U14 Doubles final and in Boys U14 Doubles, Windgap duo, Jack Dowling and Padraig Foley aim for success against Galway opponents.
At Kingscourt, Cavan, Kilkenny are involved in the last match of the day, the Boys U17 Doubles decider where Clogh twins, Aidan and Cathal Barry are hoping to bag the title at the expense of Roscommon.
Best of luck to all players, coaches and supporters.
Two weeks ago, handballers from Clogh and Kilfane travelled to Roscommon and Abbeylara, Longford to take on Connaught and Ulster opponents in four different All Ireland grades.
First up at St.Comans, Roscommon on the Saturday morning were Clogh duo, Ned Lawlor and Billy Love who played Sligo in the Emerald Masters B Doubles. From the start, the North Kilkenny pair were in control, and with the aid of some excellent serving, they were deserving 21-2, 21-17 winners. In the second set, Ned and Billy were led 14-2, but recovered to tie at 15 all, before closing out a famous victory.
In the other match at the mid-west venue, defeat was the order of the day for Daniel and William Love in their Intermediate Doubles clash with Cavan. Going into the final, the Love brothers were confident of success. However, on the day Daniel and William played well below par and came off second best to the Ulster men, losing in two sets 21-6, 21-13.
In the afternoon at Abbeylara, there were two All Ireland Ladies titles up for grabs in the Intermediate and Minor grades. Representing Kilkenny in the Intermediate Doubles grade were Rachel Hogan (Kilfane) and Clare Love (Clogh), and in this final they faced Roscommon. The Kilkenny ladies got off to a great start, winning the first set 21-0, and even though they were under some pressure in the second they still were convincing winners on a 21-12 scoreline.
The second match at the Midlands court was the Ladies Minor Doubles, again between Kilkenny and Roscommon. Having overcome Tipperary in three sets in their semi-final, Kilfane’s Aoife Holden and Ailis O’Shea again went three games, before claiming the victory, against the Westerners. Losing the first game 21-12, the Kilfane ladies produced some top quality handball in the next two games, winning 21-20,21-20 to secure a memorable victory for the Kilkenny players.
In the EMAD final, Johnny Brennan and Joe Hennessy continued their recent good form with a 21-12, 21-7 victory over Galway at Crinkle on Sunday. Having already collected the 40 x 20 title earlier in the year in this grade, the Mothel/O’Loughlins combination added the All Ireland 60 x 30 crown with this convincing win in two games over the Westerners at the Offaly venue.