Congratulations to Eoin Kennedy on winning the AI Hardball Title 2015-05-24 22:20:00

Kennedy Unstoppable: Wins 8th All-Ireland Hardball Singles Title

Eoin Kennedy has once again came out the victor after a hard fought All-Ireland 2015 Senior Singles hardball campaign. After an earlier quarter final victory over Galway’s Pat Conway on a 21-10, 21-5 scoreline, he played Limerick’s CJ Fitzpatrick in an enthralling semi-final at Cashel just two weeks ago. Having lost the first game 19-21, Kennedy had to fight through tough second and third games before winning on an overall score 19-21, 21-14, 21-13. These impressive wins qualified him for the All-Ireland final which he played in Roscommon against Mayo’s Joe McCann earlier today (Sunday 24th).

Following a competitive Minor Singles final between Mayo’s Niall Joyce and Kilkenny’s Shane Dunne which the Mayo player won in two straight games, the senior stars entered the arena. Warming up in front of the large gallery both players showed they were in fine form and ready for battle. With referee Billy Love from Kilkenny in charge the match commenced with Kennedy serving, having won the toss. The first twenty minutes of the first game were very close with the game tied at 2, 3 and 4 points each before Kennedy pulled into an 11-4 lead. Combining excellent serving with outstanding retrieving he was showing the skills which have made him the outstanding player of the last decade or so. McCann however was not letting him off easily as in one hand he brought the scores back to 11-9. After a further long rally Kennedy killed the ball in the right corner to retrieve the serve. Dominant serving and excellent re-killing brought him to a 15-9 lead. Again McCann surged back to win the serve and two more points in succession to bring the score to 15-11 before Kennedy’s speed and skill allowed him to gain further valuable points to lead by 18 to 11.  With only three more points needed to win the first game Kennedy was forced to wait as McCann again took him out to gain a further point to bring the score to 18-12. This was his last challenge for dominance in the first game however as Kennedy served the game out on a score of 21-12.

Following a 5-minute break, the second game commenced with McCann serving first. Taken out by Kennedy he trailed 1-4 before an astonishing rally saw him regain the serve. With both players playing exceptional handball, Kennedy seemed in total charge of the rally when he directed the ball into the back right hand corner of the court. McCann sprinted back the full 60 feet length of the court to not only retrieve the ball but, to the amazement and acclamation of the crowd, rolling it out in the front right hand corner. His perfect kill shot against the odds seemed to inspire him as he won the next five points to lead 6-4. Kennedy again prevailed after picking and re-killing an almost unretrievable shot to win a hand out and then bringing the scores equal at 6 all. McCann fought back to lead 8-6 and a tough second game seemed in prospect. It was at this point however that Kennedy’s winning pedigree showed through when a purple patch of serving, retrieving and efficient killing brought him 11 points in a row and a dominating 17-8 lead. Discouraged by this sudden turn round McCann missed an easy chance to win a crucial rally and Kennedy turned the screw to win the second game and the match on a 21-12, 21-8 scoreline.

During the presentation of the Senior Singles Hardball Cup, the President of the Irish Handball Association Willie Roche from Clare paid tribute to both players for a very sporting contest. This fine win follows last year’s victory and brings Eoin Kennedy’s tally of Senior Hardball Singles to a total of 8 in 13 years, a tribute to his outstanding dedication, skill and physical and mental strength. Kennedy can now turn to the softball version of the 60x30 game where he hopes to retain his All-Ireland title, which he won again in September 2014 after a lapse of three years. His next outing will be in the annual Hospital Doubles tournament which takes place at the Limerick venue over the weekend of the 21st June. He and his St Brigid’s doubles partner Carl Browne will be hoping to make this a winning start to their 2015 doubles campaign.


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