Dessie Keegan and Joe McCann’s dream of retaining their all-Ireland senior 40x20 doubles title is still very much alive following a comprehensive victory over Wexford duo Gavin Buggy and Paul Lambert at Roscommon last weekend. The Ballaghaderreen duo were in top form and rarely troubled by the surprise quarter-final qualifiers, the pair wrapped on the tie in just over 40 minutes on a 21-9, 21-5 score line. They now meet Limerick intermediate duo, Seamus O’Carroll and CJ Fitzpatrick, in the semi-final in three weeks’ time. It was also a busy weekend for adults and juveniles with a host of all-Ireland semi-final ties down for decision at various venues.
Claremorris hosted three masters matches on Saturday but only Bofield’s Brendan Judge went home with a win as he defeated Declan Hart from Wexford in a thrilling opening game on a 17-21, 21-12, 21-16 scoreline. However Kevin Geraghty lost out to Michael Dowling of Kildare in three hard-fought games while Aidan Bell’s hopes of all-Ireland glory were quashed by Eamon Rice of Wicklow in two games at the same venue. Mayo featured in two of the three ties last Sunday, Mary Duffy and Stephie Coleman lost out to Kilkenny duo Rachel Hogan and Marie Walshe in the junior doubles, while Stephen Cooney and Ian McLoughlin reached their first under 21 doubles final as they did just enough to see off the challenge of Kilkenny duo Ger McGrath and Patrick Funchion in a thrilling match on a 21-16, 12-21, 21-19 scoreline.
Matters did not go Mayo’s way at Kilbeggan as Joe Dowling, Padraig Gillard, and Sean Ryder all have to give second best to Leinster opposition in their masters semi-final ties while Joe Neary was also beaten in this match by Gerry McGrath from Wicklow in two games.
Mayo’ s Amy Corrigan had better luck as she made the trip to Leixlip on Sunday, the talented minor defeated Kilkenny’s Claire Grace 21-15, 21-8 to set up a meeting with Catriona Casey of Cork in the final in three weeks’ time.
There were some fine performances from Mayo’s underage handballers against very stern Leinster opposition in the semi-finals at Garryhill and Tinryland on Sunday last. However none of Mayo’s five hopefuls was successful on the day. Shane Walsh and Darragh Cunnane lost out to Wicklow and Wexford opponents in the boys’ under 14 and under 15 event. T J Byrne and Killian Finn put in a fighting performance only to lose out to John Walsh and Emmett Landy of Kilkenny in the boys under 14 doubles semi-final on a heart-breaking 15-9, 11-15, 15-13 scoreline. Fergal Harte and Peter Callaghan also fell victims to Kilkenny in the boys’ under 17 doubles semi-final. The Mayo duo won the first game by a solitary ace, 21-20, but lost the second 21-9 and the tie-break third 11 aces to four.
Jackie Kennedy and Laura Gannon from Aughagower were defeated by Dublin in the girls’ under 17 doubles tie. Castlebar is the venue of the Connaught Juvenile B finals this Sunday from 11am, and with a total of 16 finals down for decision involving all counties and 12 different clubs a long day’s handball is in prospect.