The Irish adult 40x20 national handball championships were played in Ulster and North Leinster venues. Kilkenny had a number of players involved in a wide range of grades.
In the men’s Open singles, Peter Funchion (Kells) was defeated by Joe McCann (Mayo) 21-15, 21-9. In the Masters singles final, Michael ‘Ducksie’ Walsh (Talbot’s Inch) defeated his long time rival, Tom Sheridan (Meath) 21-12, 21-11 to book his place on the official Irish team for the World Championships in October.
‘Ducksie’ also was on the official team for the last World Championships in 2009 which were played in Portland, Oregon.
Patrick Funchion played in the men’s 23 and under ‘A’ singles. He was defeated in the quarter-final by eventual finalist, C.J. Fitzpatrick (Limerick) after a great match. The score was 11-5 in the tie breaker.
For the second year in-a-row Dan Breen (Kells) reached the under-23 and under B final. He defeated Peter Harte (Tyrone) 21-2, 21-3 in the semi-final to qualify for the final against Christopher McKenna (Monaghan). Dan lost out 21-8, 21-17 to the very strong Monaghan player. He still has one year left to get over the line.
In the men’s A singles, Brian Manogue (Kells) was defeated by eventual finalist, Jerome Willoughby (Wicklow) 21-16, 21-8.
In the men’s B singles, Ciaran Neary (Talbot’s Inch) defeated Dale Cusack (Cork) 21-11, 21-10 and Declan Connaughton (Galway) 20-21, 21-13, 11-0 on Saturday to set him up a semi-final against Tyrone’s Ryan Daly. In a great display of handball, the Talbot’s Inch man defeated Daly in the tie break 14-21, 21-6, 11-4.
In the final Ciaran came up against recent All-Ireland junior singles finalist, Terry Kiernan (Monaghan) in his home court of Carrickmacross. Ciaran was beaten 21-14, 14-21, 11-6 in a gripping final.
Brendan Burke contested the men’s C singles. He defeated Eamonn Todd (Monaghan), Conor O’Connor (Meath) and after a tough battle defeated Peter Flanagan (Meath) 11-7 in the third game in the semi-finals. Unfortunately after three tough matches he lost out in the final to the hard hitting Peter Reilly (Meath) 21-17, 21-3.
Recent All-Ireland doubles winner, Paul Dowling (Mothel) played Kenny Curran (Tyrone) in the semi-final. After two tough games he won 21-15, 21-16 to book a place in the silver Masters B final.
Paul met Down player, Sean McNally in the final and came out on the wrong side of a 21-8 scoreline in the first game. He came back strongly to win the second game, 21-18 to set up a tie break. However, the Down player won 11-4.
Jimmy Neary (Talbot’s Inch) was beaten by Dublin’s Eugene Kennedy in the semi-final in St Mellan’s Truagh after a tough battle.
‘Ducksie’ Walsh is to be congratulated on winning the nationals and qualifying for the World Championships squad, but it was hard luck on beaten finalists Ciaran Neary, Brendan Burke, Dan Breen and Paul Dowling, even if it was a fair achievement to qualify for the final.