Billy Drennan (Galmoy) receives his winners medal from Handball President Joe Masterson
At the All-Ireland 40x20 handball finals weekend in Kingscourt, Cavan, there was a mixed bag of results for Kilkenny players.
The finals were a wonderful advertisement for the sport.
Kilkenny players contested eight finals in total and claimed victories in four juvenile finals and in one adult decider.
Starting on Friday, St Patrick's Day, Kilkenny players contested two over-age deciders at the packed Ulster venue.
First up was Joe Anthony (Mullinavat) who played Brian Davern (Down) in the Diamond Masters 'B' singles final.
In two tight games the South Kilkenny player came out on top, 21-17, 21-18 in what was an energy sapping contest to claim his first All-Ireland 40x20 title.
This victory for Anthony made up for the disappointment in the same grade last year when losing at the penultimate stage of the championship.
Opened well, but beaten
This match was followed by the Silver Masters 'B' singles decider. Involved here was Willie Holden (Kilfane) against Michael Clerkin (Monaghan).
Despite winning the first set 21-19, the Kilfane player was unable to make any further impact as the Ulster player fought back to take the next two games, 21-14, 21-6 to seal victory.
On Saturday, the All-Ireland minor singles title was on offer. Eoin Brennan from Kells played Tadgh O’Neill (Cork) in this prestigious championship.
Despite being a year younger than his Munster opponent, Eoin put up a tremendous performance in the two games and was well in contention for most of the match.
In both sets the Kells player more than matched his opponent in all departments. He was unlucky to suffer a leg injury in the latter stages of the second game, which further hampered his chances.
The Cork player won the match 21-14, 21-11 but it was a great performance by the young Kells player.
On Sunday the emphasis was on juvenile handball, with all the championship finals scheduled for the Cavan venue.
Here Kilkenny contested five finals and brought home gold medals in four of the grades.
First up was Billy Drennan from Galmoy in boys under-14 singles. His opponent was Tiarnan O’Rourke from Monaghan.
Picture above - the Kilkenny boys under-16 doubles champions - Kyle Dunne and Billy O'Neill
(Clogh). They are pictured with Handball President Joe Masterson who presented the winners
There was no doubt about the result as the North Kilkenny player blasted his way to victory with a 15-4, 15-1 win in what was a very impressive performance.
The next Kilkenny boy in action was Jack Doyle from Galmoy. He played Clare’s Seanie Doyle in the under-15 singles decider.
Taking the first set 15-13, Jack was in control all through the second game and sealed victory when winning 15-2.
The boys under-15 doubles pairing from Kilkenny was Jamie Maher (Clogh) and Padhraic Foley (Windgap). They had a tough three set match against Clare’s Sean Coughlan and Cormac Murphy.
After losing the first game 15-13, Jamie and Padhraic were comfortable 15-5 winners of the second set.
In the deciding third game they squeezed home 15-12 to claim the title.
In the under-16 grade, Kilkenny pairs were involved in the doubles finals and they encountered mixed results.
The Clogh duo of Kyle Dunne and Billy O’Neill were too strong for Monaghan’s Justas Dambinskas and Konrad Kowal, winning 21-14, 21-12.
Kilkenny’s only loss on Sunday was in girls under-16 doubles when Edel Mulholland (O’Loughlin's) and Roisin O’Keeffe (Kilfane) were defeated by Tyrone’s Caitlin Conway and Elizabeth McGarvey 21-6, 21-7.
Overall Kilkenny can look back on a great weekend of achievement. The county won four titles and maintained its position at the top of the juvenile ladder.
To complete the juvenile 40x20 championship season, the All-Ireland team events are down for decision this weekend in Galway.
Kilkenny will represent Leinster in the boys under-12/13 and under-14/15 events.
GAA Handball 40x20 juvenile team of six/four Championships on Saturday - under-12/13 Team of 6 championships in Salthill Court 1, Galway (12noon) SF 1, Cork (Cameron Sullivan, Cian Cronin O’Neill, Ben Sullivan, Calum McCarthy, Hayden Supple, Eanna McInerny, Eoin Daly, John Cronin) v Tyrone (Eoin McElholm, Ruairi McCullagh, Eoin Donaghy, Gary McAleer, Conor Owens, Patrick McCann); SF 2, Galway (Stephen Kelly, Cathal Ó Laoire, Dara Ó Laoire , Mikey Kelly, Paraic McNeela, Seán Stafford, Feidhlim Ó Diollúin, Jack Ó Domhnaill) v Kilkenny (Kyle Jordan, Conor Holden, Daniel Hanrahan, Thomas Sharkey, David Holden, Ronan O'Brien, James Purcell, Michael Brennan).
Final - winner semi-final 1 v winner semi-final 2.
Under-14/15 Team of 6 championships in Claregalway, Galway (12noon) SF 1, Tipperary (Cian Donnelly, Nathan Lenihan, Rory Grace, James Power, Eoin Healy, Jack McGrath) bye; SF 2, Mayo (Micheal Gilmartin, Eoin Fox, Patrick Carroll, James Lally, Bobby Reilly, Ciaran Heneghan, Conor Hanahoe, Liam McCormack) v Kilkenny (Eoin O'Brien, Sean Barron, Sean Purcell, Ciaran O'Neill, Gearoid Phelan, John Doheny, Tom Holden, David Quinlan).
Final - Tipperary v winner semi-final 2.
GAA handball O'Neill’s 40x20 senior Open championship on Saturday in Dungarvan, Waterford (2pm) Q13, Kilkenny (Ciaran Neary/Brendan Burke) v Cork (Brendan Fleming/Tony Healy).
Sunday in Kells, Meath (1pm)Q9 Antrim (Owen McKenna/Sean Devine) v Kilkenny (Patrick Funchion/Peter Funchion).
40x20 county championships
Thursday at Clogh (8pm) JBD final, Cathal and Aidan Barry (Clogh) v Ciaran Cooney/Eoin Regan (Clogh); at O’Loughlins (1) 8pm MsBS final, Jimmy Purcell (Windgap) v Tom O’Keeffe (Kilfane); at Windgap (8pm) JBS final, Wesley Smyth (Windgap) v Michael Power OR Darren Walsh.
Saturday at O’Loughlin's (1) at 5pm LS, Ciara Mahon (Clogh) v Dearbhail O’Keeffe (Kilfane).
Monday at O’Loughlin's (1) at 7.30pm JS, Eoin Brennan (Kells) v C.J. Delaney or Ciaran Cooney; 8pm LS, Aoife Holden (Kifane) v Claire Love (Clogh); at Clogh (8pm) SD, Martin Lalor/Ciaran Neary (Talbot's InchI) v Padraig Cooney/Shane Dunne (Clogh); at Kells (8pm) MsCS final, Joe Anthony (Mullinavat) v Jimmy Neary (Talbot's Inch).
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