Laois Handball News
Leinster Juvenile 40×20 Handball Finals 2015
It was a busy weekend for Laois juvenile handballers with fifteen of our players reaching Leinster finals in nine grades. This was a marvellous achievement for Laois handball and testament to the fantastic work being done at underage level in the county.
Podge Delaney was first into action in Ballymore Eustace on Friday night when he faced Ben Devlin of Louth in the Boys U16 singles final. This was repeat of last year’s U15 final where Podge was narrowly defeated by the eventual All-Ireland champion. The first game was a close affair with Podge matching his opponent all the way. Unfortunately, the Louth player edged the first game 21-17 and he pushed on in the second game to take the title on a score line of 21-17 21-9. Podge should not be too disheartened by this loss as he has once again proved himself to be one of the best players at his grade in the country and hopefully he will come back next year to capture that elusive Leinster title.
Two further finals were played in Tinryland on Friday night with Rebecca Walsh facing Ciara Jordan of Wexford in the Girls U17 singles final and Avril Deegan & Emily McGuigan up against Aine Dunne & Alice Walsh of Kilkenny in the Girls U17 doubles final. In the U17 singles final, Rebecca Walsh found herself up against a very promising player in Ciara Jordan and despite her best efforts was powerless to stop the Wexford girl capturing the title in two straight games. Laois were to capture their first provincial title of the weekend in the Girls U17 doubles final with Avril and Emily playing some superb handball to defeat a strong Kilkenny pairing in a three game thriller. The Laois girls won the opening game 21-11 only for the Kilkenny girls to reverse the score line in the second. Thankfully from a Laois perspective, it was the Cullohill girls who showed the greater composure in the tie-breaker to capture the Leinster title on a score line of 21-11 11-21 11-4.
The remaining six Leinster finals involving Laois players took place on the Sunday in Tinryland. In the opening game, Josh & Jonah Kelly faced a strong partnership in Ben Keeling & Robbie Hills from Wexford in the Boys U12 doubles final. The Laois pairing never found their rhythm in the first game going down on a score line of 15-4. In the next game they upped the ante considerably but it was the Wexford players who captured the title in two straight games 15-4 15-13. Next into action for Laois was Lauren McGuigan in the Girls U13 singles final. Lauren faced a strong opponent in Abby Tarrant from Kildare. The first game proved a marvellous encounter with the Laois girl edging it 15-14. The second game was equally as compelling but this time it was the Kildare girl who came out on top 15-9. In the tie-breaker, Lauren was unable to reproduce her best handball and it was Abby Tarrant who ran out the eventual winner.
Laois captured their second Leinster title of the weekend in the Girls U13 doubles final. Aoife Brophy & Eimear Fitzpatrick gave a commanding performance to defeat Ailbeth Curran & Niamh Miller of Wexford in two straight games 15-4 15-6. The two girls showed great determination and skill on the day and if they continue to play in this manner they both certainly have bright futures in the game.
Laois were represented by Maeve Bergin & Maeve McNeill in the Girls U15 doubles final against Emma Sweeney & Eva Creane of Wexford. This proved to be a very close encounter between two evenly matched pairings. On the day it was the Wexford girls who prevailed on a score line of 15-13 15-8. More disappointment was to follow for Laois in the Girls U16 doubles final when Eimear Dunphy & Louise Walsh were defeated by the excellent partnership of Sorcha Delaney & Margaret Purcell of Kilkenny 21-2 21-6. Eimear and Louise will learn from this experience and no doubt come back stronger in next year’s championship.
The last Laois pairing into action was Eoghan Doheny and Padraic Dunne in the U16 doubles final. Having captured the U14 doubles title the year previous, Eoghan and Padraic were forced to step up a grade this year. Despite conceding a year in age to their opponents in this year’s championship, they still managed to reach the U16 final by recording impressive victories over Meath and Kilkenny in the previous rounds. In the decider they faced Anthony Butler & Patrick Boland of Wexford. The difference in age was a telling factor with the Wexford handballers proving too strong for their Laois counterparts, taking the title 21-9 21-4. Eoghan and Padraic were not too downbeat by their loss as they are still underage for this grade next year and will have the opportunity to try capture the U16 crown then.
Congratulations to all of the players who represented Laois so magnificently at this weekend’s Leinster Juvenile 40×20 Finals. It is fantastic to see so many Laois juvenile players in action in provincial finals and hopefully this trend will continue for many years to come.