LAST WEEK the finals of the Wexford handball 40 x 20 winter league took place in venues across the county and there was some fantastic action across a total of 23 adult divisions and also various grades for Juvenile handballers. Players from five counties in the south-east of the country took part, from Wexford, Wicklow, Carlow, Laois and Kilkenny, with each county celebrating success.
Gavin Buggy collected the Premier 'A' division title as he had too much experience for Peter Funchion from Kells. Buggy, who has held this title before, was much better at forcing the winning shots and his high tempo was too much for Funchion as he eventually collected the top prize on a 21-10, 21-12 scoreline.
Jerome Willoughby, one of the famous singing brothers from Coolboy in Co. Wicklow, collected the Premier 'B' singles title as he beat Pat O'Donnell from Arklow in an allWicklow final. Willoughby came out on top of a three-set thriller on a 2115, 18-21, 11-7 scoreline.
The final of Division 1 was a clash of two Ballyhogue players: the new kid on the block, Galen Riordan, and the more experienced Peter Hughes. It was to be success for Hughes as the two players who were semi-finalists in the world championships in October played a fantastic match in their home court, with Hughes getting through 21-16, 21-12.
Brendan Burke from Kells in Co. Kilkenny won a battle between the Nore and the Barrow as he defeated Garryhill's Ollie Ryan in a terrific Division 2 final. Burke was hammered 21-8 in the opening set but he re-grouped and took the game to Ryan and forced a tie-break after a 21-15 win in the second set. In the tie-breaker both players had chances but Burke won out 11-6.
Tony Breen won the all-Templeudigan Division 3 final clash of him and Noel Holohan in comfortable fashion, 21-11, 21-14.
Jim Berry, playing his best handball of the season as the year draws to a close, added the title of Division 4 to his honoursafter a tremendous battle against Diarmuid Burke from Kells. A fantastic match eventually saw Berry win 2120, 21-14.
Damien Kelly collected a fine win for his Coolgreany club in the Division 5 final, getting by the challenge of Andrew Dowling from Monavea in Co. Laois. Kelly moves up to Division 4 after this 21-17, 2115 triumph.
Peter McGrath completed a double of wins for Coolgreany by adding the Division 6 title as he won a three-set final against Fergal McWilliams from Horeswood. The opening two sets were shared 2117, 15-21 before McGrath delivered a blinding third set and he was victorious on an 11-0 scoreline.
Robert Byrne from Bridgetown took the Division 7 title after Eoin Leacy was forced to pull out with injury, while the Division 8t title was a big win for Kevin Barrett from Tinryland as he blitzed Kevin Doyle from Davidstown 21-6, 21-12.
Aaron Geoghegan made it two titles for the Carlow club dressed in blue and white as he won another three-set encounter, taking care of Billy Rossiter from Ballyhogue. Geoghegan came from behind to win 12-21, 21-16, 11-5.
Templeudigan finished the week with a total of three titles in adult grades as Dermot Flynn added the Division 10 title and his cousin, Richard Flynn, took the Division 11 title in fine style. In the Division 10 decider Dermot Flynn beat Kevin Rossiter from Garryhill 21-18, 2117. Richard then downed another Carlow man as he beat Seán Doyle from Tinryland 21-15, 21-17.
Division 12 went the way of Coolboy as Declan Jordan was the winner, defeating Pádraig Roberts from Kilmyshall 21-18, 21-12. Division 13 was among the best of the week as another three-set game went right to the wire before Niall Leacy from St. Joseph's won through 11-21, 21-15, 11-10 against Richard Martin Jnr. from Bridgetown.
Keith Armstrong from Davidstown took another close final in Division 14 as he beat Seamus Sinnott from St. Martin's 21-14, 20-21, 11-7. There was three sets in the Division 15 final also as Stevie Lawlor from Bridgetown was the winner, overcoming Tommy Cummins from Horeswood 21-18, 20-21, 11-7. Gavin Goggins was too strong in the final of Division 16 as he powered past Jody O'Shaughnessy from Coolgreany 21-15, 21-8.
James Stanners (St. Martin's) won Division 20 as he overcame Martin Crowley from St. Joseph's 21-8, 21-10.
The women's open final was a fine win for Patricia Doyle from Coolboy as she was too strong for Marguerite Gore from St. Mary's, winning 21-8, 21-7. In Division 2 of the women's singles, Róisín Walsh from St. Joseph's beat Olivia Sweeney from St. Joseph's in a close-fought club derby 21-19, 2113.
Melissa Boland took the win in the final of women's Division 3, as the Coolgreany woman beat Julie Kearney from St. Joseph's 15-12, 15-12.