Pictured is All Ireland 4 Wall minor singles finalist Billy Drennan from Galmoy (left), who defeated Lorcan Conlon (Mayo) in the semi-finals
Last weekend was an important one for Kilkenny handballers becuase they contested All-Ireland semi-finals at adult and juvenile level.
After contesting matches in Leinster, Connacht and Ulster, the county can now look forward to playing in 14 All-Ireland finals, five at adult level and nine in the juvenile ranks.
On Saturday, Kilfane hosted three All-Ireland semi-finals between Leinster and Connacht. The newly built 4 Wall court staged matches in minor singles, ladies minor singles and intermediate singles.
First up was the minor singles clash between Billy Drennan (Galmoy) and Lorcan Conlon (Mayo).
Despite a good performance in the first game, the westerner was denied the first set. The Kilkenny player produced the required shots to win 21-16.
In the second set Drennan was in full control and qualified for the final against Monaghan with a 21-4 victory.
The second contest featured Noelle Dowling (Mothel). She faced Saidhbh Ni Flaithearta (Galway) in ladies minor singles over three sets.
Winning the first set 21-14, the Mothel player was on course for victory but the Galway player battled back to level the match by winning the second 21-18. In a close fought deciding game, Noelle did enough to squeeze through to the decider against Tyrone with a 21-17 win.
To complete the programme at the fantastic new court in Kilfane, the intermediate singles semi-final between Shane Dunne (Clogh) and Ian McLoughlin (Mayo) was also decided over three sets.
The North Kilkenny player stormed to a 21-2 win in the first set. McLoughlin levelled by winning the second game 21-9.
The deciding game was dominated by Dunne as he claimed his place in the final against Monaghan by winning 21-10.
Also in action on Saturday was Brian Mahon (Clogh), who travelled to Galway to play Seamus Conneely in the junior singles semi-final.
The early initiative was with the Galway man. He took the first game 21-15.
However, the experienced Mahon got into his stride and won the next two games 21-11, 21-13 to qualify for the final against Tyrone.
To complete Kilkenny’s involvement in the semi-finals, Anthony Martin had home advantage in his over 35B match with Aidan Connaughton (Mayo) at Kells on Sunday.
The recent good form displayed by Martin continued. The Kells player was a comfortable 21-5, 21-8 winner to set up a final against Cork.
There was considerable success for Kilkenny juveniles in the All-Ireland semi-finals against Ulster opposition on Sunday.
Travelling to Breacach, Tyrone and Kingscourt, the county returned home having qualified for nine All-Ireland finals, five in the girls competitions and four in the boys.
The finals are scheduled for Kingscourt on Sunday, March 22.
Overall it was a fantastic weekend for the county as players contested 16 semi-finals against the cream of Ulster and Connacht with success achieved in 14 matches, a phenomenal record which, hopefully, will continue into the finals in two weeks time.
All-Ireland juvenile semi-final results
Girls under-14S Kilkenny (Katie Brennan) bt Tyrone (Caislin Tracey) 15-2, 15-6; girls under-14D Kilkenny (Una Duggan/Holly Byrne) bt Tyrone (Laura Duff/Keeva Owens) 15-4, 15-3.
Girls under-15S Kilkenny (Eimear Barron) bt Monaghan (Aoibhainn McCluskey) 11-15, 15-11, 15-6; under-15D Kilkenny (Aisling Cooney/Aine Sharkey) bt Tyrone (Aoife Kerr/Molly Darcey) 15-1, 15-6.
Girls under-16S Tyrone (Clodagh Munroe) bt Kilkenny (Amy Brennan) 18-21, 21-16, 11-3; under-16D Tyrone (Cloda McNamee/Aoibhinn Daly) bt Wexford (Ellie Murphy O’Gorman/Rachel Goff) 21-3, 21-9.
Girls under-17S Laois (Una Brophy) bt Antrim (Deirbhile O’Neill) 21-20, 21-12; under-17D Kilkenny (Lauren Power/Nathania Jackson) bt Tyrone (Aoibhinn Gallagher/Bronagh Farley) 21-6, 21-1
Boys under-14S Kilkenny (Connor Doyle) bt Tyrone (Ruairi McCullagh) 15-3, 11-15, 15-11; under-14D Kilkenny (John Hayes/Cathal Buckley) bt Tyrone (Ruairi Kerr/Martin Coyle) 15-12, 15-8.
Boys under-15S Armagh (Fiachra O’Duill) bt Wexford (Bobby Doyle) 21-14, 21-9; under-15D Cavan (Niall Magee/Matthew Smith) bt Wexford (Conor Horan/Shane Kehoe) 15-5, 15-1.
Boys under-16S Kilkenny (Kyle Jordan) bt Monaghan (Aidan McGeough) 21-12, 21-7;under-16D Cavan (Adam McKenna/Oliver McCrystal) bt Kilkenny (Daniel Hanrahan/Thomas Sharkey) 21-12, 21-13.
Boys under-17S Kilkenny (Sean Barron) bt Armagh (Conor McLean) 21-10, 21-12; under-17D Wexford (Ben Keeling/Conor Dobbs) bt Tyrone (Ciaran McNally/Darragh Nixon) 21-7, 21-11.
Saturday at Tinryland (5.30pm) LJD final Aoife Holden/Claire Love (Kilkenny) v M. Ní Dhálaigh/Sabrina Hughes (Dublin).
Leixlip (5pm) JD Robert Sheridan/Daniel Farrelly (Meath) v Brian Mahon/Keith Bourke (Kilkenny).
Kilfane (5pm) under-21D final Eoin Brennan/Conor Murphy (Kilkenny) v Ciaran Cooney/Billy O’Neill (Kilkenny).
Monavea (5.30pm) over 35BD final, Stephen Smullen/Jamie Balfe (Kildare) v Diarmuid Burke/Anthony Martin (Kilkenny).