Wexford players brought home a superb four world titles from Citywest
BILLED AS one of the greatest-ever showpieces of handball, the 2012 world championships held in the Citywest Hotel in Dublin didn't disappoint with 21 courts, huge drama and excitement, and four titles were picked up along the way in an amazing week for Wexford handball.
Daniel Kavanagh, Tommy Hynes and father and son duo Ned and Gavin Buggy all took the highest accolades possible on the handball scene.
The first of Wexford's world titles was won on Thursday night as 62-year-old Ned Buggy, a member of the St. Joseph's club in Wexford town and a previous Leinster Senior hurling winner with Wexford, along with capturing numerous handball AllIreland titles over a distinguished career, followed in the footsteps of his brother, Seamus, and his son, Gavin, to become the third member of the Buggy family to claim a world handball medal.
Ned's triumph came in the Diamond Masters 'A' singles event as he joined forces with Eugene Kennedy from Dublin, who indeed has a famous handball son of his own in the eight-time 60 x 30 singles champion, Eoin.
The road to glory for the newly-formed partnership began on Tuesday afternoon as Ned and Eugene faced Coolboy duo Richard Willoughby and Pat Doyle and overcame a tough battle to win by two games to zero. In the quarter-final two opponents from the United States lay in wait as Rich Scilley and Dave Cikan were beaten on the same scoreline.
The semi-final was another two-nil win for Buggy and Kennedy as they cast aside the challenge of Frank Lambrechts and Tim Murray. The final saw them come up against two players familiar to the Wexford winter league as Garryhill duo Andy Ryan and John Rossiter tried to stop the Wexford-Dublin duo. But with some good serving and some devastating passing shots, Buggy and Kennedy picked up the world Diamond Masters doubles crown with a 21-7, 21-11 win in the final.
Saturday morning was being billed as a huge one for Wexford handball as there was involvement in four of the finals on the penultimate day of the championships.
First up was Gavin Buggy as he looked to pick up his second world title in three years as he joined forces with Dominic Lynch from Kerry for the Over35 doubles. In the run-up to the final there was an opening round win 2-0 over O'Brien and Murphy, before the huge semi-final win over David Maloney and Noel Murphy that went all the way to a tiebreaker before the Kerry-Wexford combination won out 11-7.
The final paired Gavin and Dominic up against Seamus O Tuama and Seán Devine from Antrim. The first game went heavily in favour of the winners as they triumphed 21-7, and in the second game injury called a halt to proceedings as O Tuama retired after a mammoth week of handball. However, both Gavin and Dominic celebrated with huge delight as the pair, who have been good friends for many years, put together a winning run on the most vital stage of all to claim world glory.
For Gavin it was his second time collecting a world medal, as his first came three years ago in Portland, Oregon, where he won the Over-35 singles crown. Indeed, this was a crown that slipped from Gavin's grasp during the past week as he lost out in the semi-final to Ciarán Curran.
Following that win, Wexford eyes quickly switched focus to the final of the 13 and under doubles event where Daniel Kavanagh from St. Joseph's in Wexford town was in his second final of the week and was seeking revenge over Colin Ryan from Cashel in Co. Tipperary who defeated him in the final of the singles event.
For the 13 and under doubles Daniel was partnered with Tadhg O'Neill from Mallow in Co. Cork, and the southern partnership proved the best in the grade after five huge wins. The results that got Daniel and Tadhg to the final on Saturday morning read as follows. first round, beat Delaney and Doheny 2-0; second round, beat Mohan and Mohan 2-0; quarter-final, beat Mulkerrins and Donohue 2-1; semi-final, beat O Conghaile and Mulkerrins 2-0.
These results set up a re-match for Kavanagh against Colin Ryan and it was to be glory for the Wexford man and his Cork partner on this occasion as a display of fine serving and low drives down the right wall saw them take the opening set 15-10, roared on by a huge support of family, friends and clubmates.
Daniel and Tadhg drove kill after kill in the second set and captured the honours with a 15-2 win. The scenes of emotion witnessed after this game were amazing as the dancing feet of Daniel Kavanagh leaped around the alley, and indeed his determination could be seen after his singles defeat. Although disappointed, he told this reporter that he would 'learn from the singles and win the doubles'.
Daniel's achievements last week are probably the most impressive of any Wexford player in the championships, as the St. Joseph's lad is only playing the game for the past two seasons (one of the huge success stories of the Blueprint For The Future). He played a huge amount of eleven four wall games over the ten days of competition and remarkably only tasted defeat once.
There was hosts of other Juvenile players from Wexford involved in the championships, including Galen Riordan, Josh Howlin, Glen Murphy, Diarmuid Moore, Patrick Boland, Todd Hynes, Holly Hynes, Emma Sweeney, Cora Doyle, Ciara O'Connor and Seamus Sinnott to name but a few, all who have the eye for the ball and are sure to follow in the footsteps of Daniel and other Wexford players in the future on the glory trail.
Tommy Hynes became Wexford's fourth world champion of a fantastic ten days in the Citywest when he partnered Michael 'Duxie' Walsh in the Masters doubles event in which the St. Mary's lefthander and the Talbot's Inch maestro proved too strong in the final for another great of the game in the shape of Meath's Tom Sheridan, partnered by Niall Kerr. Although the Meath-Tyrone combination did dish out huge problems in the opening set, Hynes and Walsh captured the crucial set 21-17, and with the back broken on their opponents' challenge they pushed for home to win the second set 21-6 and claim the world Masters doubles title. Tommy Hynes, who has dined from the top table of big alley handball before when he won the 60 x 30 All-Ireland doubles title with Colin Keeling, joins an ever-growing list of Wexford world champions.
A fifth final success was to be denied on Saturday afternoon as All-Ireland Junior 'B' doubles champions Malachy Whelan and Darren O'Toole saw their quest in the men's 'C' doubles come to an agonising end in a tie-break in the final against Denis White and John Ferncombe from Tipperary.
In the most gruelling and toughest grades of all, where fitness plays as vital a role as handball, Darren re-grouped from a semi-final defeat in the singles to William Love from Kilkenny to forge a winning run in the doubles with Whelan that eventually led them all the way to the final.
In a fascinating final that had everything, from crack serves to tomahawk kills throughout, it was the Tipperary men who took the opening set 21-16. Whelan and O'Toole are not All-Ireland champions by fluke and picked up the pace and tempo in the second set to storm to a 21-13 success, and looked to be holding the upper hand as the tie-break approached.
However, there was little O'Toole and Whelan could do in the tie-break, as John Ferncombe delivered serves that would have been unreturnable by Paul Brady. Once the Tipperary men went 10-1 ahead and got the Wexford duo out for the second time in the tie-break, there would only be one result and it was an 11-1 win for the Tipperary duo, but the Coolgreany and Castlebridge pair can be very proud of their efforts and in 2015 in Canada they may go one better.
There was notable performances by numerous other Wexford players over the week, with Anne Boland, Marguerite Gore, Jim Berry, Mickie Berry, Paul Lambert, Frank Maddock, Mick Armstrong, Tony Breen and Peter Hughes all making semi-final appearances across various grades, with Peter's run in the men's 'A' singles being one of huge hope for the future also as he defeated Nicky Anthony in a tie-break in the quarter-final. His dreams looked a possibility before Ricki O'Gara proved too strong in the semi-final.
All in all GAA Handball Ireland C.E.O. Chris Curran and his team must be complimented on an amazing world championships, where 21 courts stood up to the test of 33 countries from all over the globe, and with titles going all over the place Wexford handball is hugely delighted to be able to call Daniel Kavanagh, Ned Buggy, Gavin Buggy and Tommy Hynes world champions. We are also happy to say that every Wexford player involved did their county proud at the worlds 2012, so roll on Calgary, Canada, in 2015.