OVER THE past 14 days handball courts all over Co. Wexford have been busy as the semi-finals of the 40 x 20 winter leagues took place.
The Premier 'A' final will be a battle between Kilkenny and Wexford as Gavin Buggy (St. Mary's) had a 21-18, 21-6 win over Michael 'Duxie' Walsh from Kilkenny, while Peter Funchion (Kells) has been the surprise packet of the tournament and he continued that kind of form to defeat Tommy Hynes from St. Mary's comfortably, 21-7, 21-9.
The Premier 'B' final will be a Garden county clash as Arklow's Pat O'Donnell will play Coolboy's Jerome Willoughby. O'Donnell has already taken care of one of the Willoughby brothers, also famed for their fantastic musical abilities, as he defeated Johnny Willoughby 21-10, 21-20 last week. Jerome grabbed his final spot after beating his Coolboy clubmate Keith Kavanagh after a fantastic game 21-16, 16-21, 11-4.
Last week Peter Hughes and Galen Riordan secured an all-Ballyhogue final in Division 1 with impressive wins, while Division 2 final spots were won by Ollie Ryan (Garryhill) as he defeated James Bergin (St. Martin's) 10-21, 21-20, 11-7, and Brendan Burke (Kells) after he defeated James Gregan from Coolboy 21-5, 21-9.
The Division 3 final is an all-Templeudigan battle as Noel Holohan and Tony Breen secured successful semi-final wins last week. Holohan defeated Mick Armstrong (Davidstown) 21-9, 21-17, while Breen was pushed all the way before getting over Ned Kealy (Arklow), 21-11, 9-21, 11-7.
Diarmuid Burke (Kells) became the second member of his family to get into the finals as he won his Division 4 bout with Paddy Haughton from St. Mary's 21-17, 21-6. In the final he will face Jim Berry (Barntown) who downed Seán Ryan from Garryhill 10-21, 215, 11-10.
Damien Kelly (Coolgreany) and Andrew Dowling (Monavea) will contest the Division 5 final. Kelly secured his final spot after crushing Michael O'Neill (Templeudigan) 2111, 21-10, while John Roche suffering from injury had to concede a walkover to Dowling.
Fergal McWilliams is back in another final after he was a comfortable 21-11, 21-10 winner over Frank Maddock (St. Martin's). The Horeswood man will meet Peter McGrath from Coolgreany who defeated Donal Doyle (St. Martin's) 21-9, 21-10.
Eoin Leacy (St. Joseph's) was the first man into the final of Division 7 as he knocked out Eamon Purcell from Windgap 21-17, 21-15. Leacy will meet Robert Byrne from Ballymitty who secured a tight 21-16, 15-21, 11-6 win over Eugene English from Ballyhogue.
Two Kevins will face each other in the Division 8 final as Garryhill's Kevin Barrett downed Seán Flood (St. Joseph's) 21-10, 21-10, and Kevin Doyle from Davidstown had too much in the tank for his clubmate Dom Stafford and won through 21-15, 21-15.
Billy Rossiter (Ballyhogue) claimed a fine win in Division 9, defeating Templeudigan's Seán O'Neill 21-9, 21-7, while Aaron Geoghegan from Tinryland beat Ballymitty's John Moran 21-14, 2119.
Kevin Rossiter (Garryhill) gave Tom O'Shea from Davidstown his first defeat of the season in the semi-final of Division 10 on a 19-21, 21-18, 11-6 scoreline, and he will now lock horns with Dermot Flynn from Templeudigan who defeated Bryan Kehoe from Castlebridge 2110, 21-9.
Division 11: Richard Flynn (Templeudigan) beat Stephen Murphy (Castlebridge), 21-6, 21-12; Steven Doyle (Tinryland) beat Noel Sinnott (St. Martin's), 21-6, 21-12.
Division 12: Pádraig Roberts (Kilmyshall) beat Robbie Codd (Templeudigan), 21-10, 21-13; Declan Jordan (Coolboy) beat Eamonn Bowe (Davidstown), 2120, 21-6.
Division 13: Richard Martin Jnr. (Bridgetown) beat Andrew Corish (Horeswood), 21-13, 16-21, 11-7; Niall Leacy (St. Joseph's) beat Tom Rossiter (Castlebridge) who retired injured.
Division 14: Keith Armstrong (Davidstown) beat Liam Shannon (Bridgetown), 21-8, 21-11; Seamus Sinnott (St. Martin's) beat Tom Dempsey (Ballyhogue), 21-5, 21-8.
Division 15: Tom Cummins (Horeswood) beat Michael O'Connor (Templeudigan), 21-10, 21-5; Stevie Lawlor (Bridgetown) beat Paul Treacy (Arklow), 21-18, 16-21, 11-7.
Division 16: Gavin Goggins (St. Mary's) beat James Lyndon (Oulart), 21-7, 21-5; Jody O'Shaughnessy (Coolgreany) beat Jimmy Dunne (Kilmyshall), walkover.
Division 17: Joe Stafford (Arklow) beat Colm Browne (Coolgreany), 21-4 21-20; James Nolan (Kilmyshall) beat Jason Kehoe (St. Joseph's), 21-11, 21-10.
Division 18: Charlie Carty (St. Mary's) beat Noel Butler (St. Joseph's), 21-9, 14-21, 11-9; Tom Murphy (Kilmyshall) beat Tommy Haughton (St. Joseph's), 21-17, 2119.
Division 19: Timmy Farrell (Kilmyshall) beat Andrew Moore (St. Martin's), 21-5, 21-1; Stephen Kavanagh (St. Joseph's) beat Joe O'Connor (St. Martin's), 14-21, 2113, 11-6.
Division 20: James Stanners (St. Martin's) beat Trevor Nolan (St. Joseph's), 21-3, 21-4; Martin Carley (St. Joseph's) beat James Flood (St. Mary's), 21-16, 21-8.
Marguerite Gore and Patricia Doyle will contest the final of ladies' Division 1 after both had fine wins during the past week.
Gore (St. Mary's) defeated Amanda Kelly from Templeudigan 21-10, 21-11, while Doyle (Coolboy) was too strong for Chloe Cash from St. Joseph's, winning 21-3, 21-4.
Olivia Sweeney (St. Joseph's) is in the Division 2 final after beating St. Martin's Sarah O'Connor 21-20, 2114. She will meet her clubmate Róisín Walsh after she defeated St. Martin's Lorraine Maddock 21-15, 21-18.
Division 3 will be a final between Julie Kearney (St. Joseph's), who beat Tracey O'Neill (Ballymitty) 155, 15-1, and Melissa Boland, who beat Breda Kelly from Templeudigan 15-1, 15-2.
Meanwhile, Waterford Institute of Technology completed an amazing team double last weekend in St. Joseph's handball club in Wexford town as they added the 40 x 20 Intervarsities All-Ireland team title to the 60 x 30 team crown they won a month ago.
Noel Holohan from Templeudigan, in his final year in the college, picked up his fourth All-Ireland medal with them as he once again joined forces with Kilkenny trio Patrick and Peter Funchion and Ger McGrath to wrap up the title.
In the quarter-final W.I.T. defeated I.T. Carlow by a comfortable margin. Next up on Saturday morning was a clash with a D.C.U. team containing Ballyhogue's Peter Hughes. Indeed, Holohan and Hughes locked horns in this clash, with both men playing in the doubles that finished one game each, however W.I.T. had done enough in the singles games to claim a semi-final spot.
The final had a remarkable turnaround in it as W.I.T. completed a Lazarus-like comeback after Martin Mulkerrins from Galway gave U.C.D. a 42-6 lead after the opening singles clash.
After the first game of the doubles it was looking all rosy in the garden for U.C.D. as Noel Holohan and Peter Funchion could only manage to win their opening set 21-15.
However, the second set was a big springboard for the recovery as Funchion and Holohan both fired out some fine kill shots to romp to a 21-2 win, leaving the combined score 59-48 in favour of U.C.D.
Patrick Funchion wrapped up the win as he overcame Barry Nash from Clare in the opening set of the singles game to win 21-13, and with the lead cut to 72-69, Funchion burned U.C.D's hopes with a 21-0 win in the final set as W.I.T. completed a unique double and captured a first 40 x 20 team title since 1993.