Historic success for Laois Handball
Another piece of history for Laois handball was made last week in Kilfane, Co. Kilkenny when Cullohill handballers Eoghan Doheny and Padraic Dunne claimed the county’s first ever juvenile doubles 60×30 title. The boys entered the championships optimistic that they could challenge the more experienced big alley players of Wexford and Kilkenny and this proved the case with the Laois handballers playing some sensational handball over the course of the championships.
Eoghan and Padraic faced a strong partnership from Kilkenny in Michael Power and Robert Dowling in the Boys U15 doubles semi-final. The first game was to go the way of the Kilkenny pairing but the Cullohill boys were to stage a fantastic comeback in the second game to claim it on a 15-11 scoreline. Eoghan and Padraic were now in the ascendancy and they upped their game again in the tie-breaker to qualify for the Leinster final with a remarkable 15-2 victory.
In the final they faced a highly fancied pairing in Wexford’s Ciaran Power and Willian Murray-Byrne. Buoyed by their fantastic semi-final victory, the Laois boys entered the final brimming with confidence and optimistic of staging an upset. However, no one in attendance was expecting the truly remarkable performance that Eoghan and Padraic were to give on the day. The Laois pairing oozed class throughout with some breath-taking handball that left their opponents shunned. They powered their way to an impressive 15-2 victory in the opening game to leave themselves on the brink of a Leinster title.
The boys never allowed their standards to drop in the second game and again dominated proceedings to capture the Boys U15D title on a 15-2 15-5 scoreline. This was a hard earned title and a just reward for the two Cullohill handballers who dedicated a lot of time to travelling to surrounding counties like Carlow, Tipperary and Kilkenny for training. Hopefully Eoghan and Padraic can carry the impressive form they have shown in recent weeks into their All-Ireland semi-final against Ulster opposition.
In the Men’s Junior B Doubles final, Ray Fogarty and Tómas Lennon secured another Leinster title for the county when they defeated Jaime and Gary Balfe of Kildare. Having dominated the opening game and securing a 21-5 victory, the Laois pairing seemed to lose their concentration in the second to allow the Kildare pairing level up the encounter with an impressive 6-21 win. The tie-breaker was to see the momentum swing back again in the favour of the Laois handballers with Tómas and Ray finally regaining their rhythm and composure to pick off some excellent kill-shots. Once they gained control of the tie-breaker they were never going to be denied and powered their way to the Leinster title with a dominant 21-7 victory. This was a well-earned title for the two Laois handballers and made up for losing last year’s final against Wexford.
Further Laois success was achieved by Paddy Donovan in the Men’s Golden Masters Final when he recorded a marvellous two game victory over big alley specialist Robbie McCarthy Snr. of Westmeath. Having won the opening game 21-11, Paddy displayed great determination and skill to withstand the expected fight back by McCarthy in the second. The Westmeath man tried every shot in his repertoire to shift the momentum but Paddy was not to be denied and claimed the 60×30 title on a 21-11 21-13 scoreline. In winning this title, Paddy has achieved a truly remarkable double by adding the 60×30 Leinster crown to the 40×20 Leinster title won earlier in the year.
In the Ladies 60×30 championships, Niamh Dunne has progressed to the All-Ireland Junior Final where she will face either Munster or Connaught opposition. Niamh is also through to the Ladies Junior Doubles final with her playing partner Ciara Dowling. This is the second year running that the girls have reached an All-Ireland 60×30 final and they will be hopeful that they can add this title to their ever growing collection.