Great Win by St Brigids Eoin Kennedy in 60x30 Handball Nationals 2017-07-24 00:03:00

Great Win by St Brigids Eoin Kennedy in 60x30 Handball Nationals

Eoin Kennedy added the 2017 Nationals Singles title to his long list of handball credits overcoming Wexford’s Gavin Buggy in the final. 

Played over a single weekend the Nationals requires skill, concentration and stamina as the games are to 15 aces instead of the usual 21 and four rounds have to be successully negotiated to come out the winner. With the shorter game format upsets are more likely and it is vital that players get up to speed very quickly if they are to succeed. The need to win four matches in two days places a premium on stamina and the ability to quickly recover from the exertions of the previous round. 

Kennedy faced Wicklow’s Michael Gregan in the first round played on Saturday morning at the Wexford Castlebridge venue. This was a difficult first round match but Kennedy go off to a winning start controlling the match throughout to win 15-9, 15-6. He followed this up by an equally convincing victory in the afternoon, winning 15-9, 15-4 against Limerick’s Paudi Quish.  Kennedy showed his experience through precision serving and his ability to play kill or passing shots, often sending his younger opponent on a tour of the court before finishing off the point. This win meant that he would meet Offaly’s David Hope in Sunday’s semi-final after Hope beat Kerry’s Dominic Lynch in a tough opposing quarter final 15-14, 13-15, 11-1. 

On the other side of the draw Meath’s Brian Carroll came through against his fellow county man Gary McConnell in a nail-biting 11-10 tie breaker quarter-final win. Saving two match points Brian closed out the contest with a suberb left hand kill. This qualified him to meet the local favourite, Wexford’s Gavin Buggy, in Sunday’s semi-final. Buggy had already two excellent wins under his belt having defeated Galway’s Martin Mulkerrins and Limerick’s CJ Fitzpatrick in previous rounds. The match between Buggy and Carroll had the crowd on their feet as the local favourite took the first game and Carroll pulled level in the second. The tie-breaker showed fantastic fighting qualities by both players. Buggy got to 10-8 and looked the winner but Carroll fought for every point with some superb gets to continue to deny Buggy. He took the Wexford player out three times on game ball to the dispair of the local fans, to draw level at 10-10 giving him a match point chance. Buggy however proved equal to the challenge and he took out Carroll to serve for the match for the fourth time. This time he made no mistake and took the victory with a precision kill in the left. 

In the other semi-final Kennedy controlled the match throughout against Offaly’s David Hope to win fairly comfortably 15-3, 15-7. His win set up the perfect final with the local favourite Buggy. Within five minutes of the start it looked like an injury to Kennedy might finish the final there and then.  Reacting to a bad bounce off the bottom of the sidewall Kennedy over-arched his back which went into spasm. Taking an injury time-out Kennedy stretched and massaged his back to try to get himself back into action. Over the next few points he gradually regained confidence in his movement and built a 9-3 lead. Buggy fought back to 8-11 before Kennedy closed out the first 15-9. In the second game Kennedy was back to his best, controlling the rallies through excellent serving and maintaining 

his front court positioning. Through a combination of hard driving passing shots and soft corner kills he ran out the overall winner 15-9, 15-3.  

This was a welcome win for Kennedy as he added his first 60x30 Nationals singles title to his long list of achievements. Kennedy’s return to winning ways sets him up nicely for the forthcoming All-Ireland championships, where he will be attempting to turn back the years to win yet another Celtic Cross. Meanwhile, his next outing is in the Michael “Ducksie” Walsh Memorial doubles tournament which takes place in Kilkenny this coming weekend (July 29th), where he will be partnered by his clubmate St Brigid’s Carl Browne.  

St Brigids GAA Club,
Russell Park, Navan Road, Dublin 15