Patrick and Peter Funchion made it two from two in the under-21 All-Ireland handball final when they overcame a stiff challenge from Monaghan pair, Terry McElvaney and Christopher McKenna before winning 21-16, 21-20.
The Callan brothers were in sparkling form all year. They met their toughest challenge to date in the final. Scores were hard fought and the inspired McKenna killed ball after ball in the left corner. However, the Kilkenny lads stuck to their guns and dogged out the result to make it two in-a-row.
Tulla in Clare also proved to be a happy hunting ground. Paul Dowling and Chris Dunne came out on top, winning 21-12, 21-14 to take their first All-Ireland together. Both players have been knocking on the All-Ireland door for the last few years, and all in the sport will be delighted to see them getting their just rewards.
Look to big alley
The O’Loughlin Gaels/Mothel partnership will now look towards the big alley with confidence sky high. Windgap brothers Jimmy and Eamonn Purcell also added All-Ireland success in the third game against Galway opponents, winning 21-12. There has always been a strong tradition of 40x20 handball in Windgap, and it will be kept going with great wins like this.
Michael Walsh and D.J. Carey made up for last year’s defeat when they beat Antrim’s Paddy Crothers and John McGarry 21-7, 21-10 in the Masters event. This was revenge from last year’s final in which the Antrim men took the honours in the decisive third game.
Tuamgraney provided three successes with Mary Phelan and Ciara Mahon winning the All-Ireland minor final. This is a major achievement for the Kilkenny girls. They came close on two occasions last year but finally got over the hurdle they dearly wanted to jump.
Kilkenny ladies handball has been improving over the last number of years and to win a major final like the minor shows how far it has come.
Rachel Hogan added her second All-Ireland crown in a week when she partnered Marie Walshe to win the ladies junior B doubles final. They girls proved too strong for Roscommon rivals. Both will look towards claiming the junior honours next year.
The old reliable partnership of Joe Hennessy and Johnny Brennan added another medal to the collection when they beat Mayo 21-16, 21-10. The precision killing by Johnny was vital, while Joe was sure and steady. The lads will look towards completing the double in the 60x30.
On the juvenile front Mary Buggy and Ashling Maher, Clogh put in a tremendous effort in the under-17 girls All-Ireland final. They played a very strong Mayo pair of Shona Ruane/Clare Shannon in the final.
The Kilkenny girls got off to a great start with consistent playing and serving. They took the first game 21-9. The second game started to slip away from them and they failed to reach the heights attained in the first game. The Mayo ladies kicked on and levelled at 21-12.
The tie break to 11 could have gone to either side. The Kilkenny duo recovered their composure and pushed on to gain victory in a very tough competitive game, 11-7.
Kilkenny contested three other finals but without success. Kirsty Maher was always going to struggle against Cianna Ni Churraoin, Galway in the under-16 singles final. Credit to Kirsty for the effort she put in to reach the final. She fought all the way to the finish but eventually lost in two games
Under-15 boys Padraig Cooney/Niall Walsh were a little unlucky to lose the first game in the final. They were on top throughout the first game and were shell shocked when the Tyrone lads (Jack Campbell/Pauric Mullan) squeezed out a victory, 15-14. They couldn’t get going in the second and were beaten 15-4.
The under-16 partnership of Emmett Landy/Brian Mahon didn’t play as well as they are capable. They lost 21-10, 21-9 to Tyrone (Johnny Woods/Ryan Mullen).
Reaching four 40x20 All-Ireland finals has to be a big plus for Kilkenny juveniles, and with a little more luck there could have been more success stories. All of the Kilkenny players can push forward from here, and the valuable experience gained can only be of benefit.