Lacey's young charges shine in at Munster finals
What a varied mixed bag of badminton action that was seen over the weekend with the Munster Senior 1 and Junior championships played in Killarney and the Munster Inter-county juvenile team events played in the UL Sports Arena in Limerick.
Normally the senior events would take precedence over the juvenile competitions but it was not a great day at the office at the Killarney venue for the Kerry contingent, when for the first time in many years an adult championship title, despite a number of final appearances, the colour gold did not stay within the county bounds.
But what a wonderful day it proved to be in Limerick where Kerry juvenile supremo, Billy Lacey, showed again that he has the Midas touch at juvenile badminton, more especially at the under-11 age group.
Lacey on Sunday last had three teams under his wing, the under-11, under-13 and the under-15 year old age groups.
With five counties taking part in each competition, Kerry certainly had a most rewarding day with both the under-13 and the under-15 sides finishing second in their respective events bringing home the silver medals but what a great day it was again for the under 11 Kerry team.
November 2012 saw Lacey manage a first ever winning Munster under-11 title for Kerry and the enthusiastic Kingdom, Castleisland Club man delivered the goods again on Sunday last at this age level and what a rip-roaring contest this proved to be.
Entering the final round it was Cork versus Kerry, with the Munster title at stake and in this deciding heart stopping contest it was the girls and boys of Kerry who just edged out on top by 11 points to 9 to bring the gold medals back to Kerry.
For one young Kerry girl in particular it was a notable achievement as Killarney's Edel O'Brien was also a member of the 2012 winning squad but no doubt, Lacey's unboundless enthusiasm and energy rubs off on each of his charges.
The winning Kerry under-11 squad was Girls; Laura O'Connor, Edel O'Brien, (both Killarney), Katie Keane (Moyvane), Katelyn Reid (Annascaul)
Boys: Seamus Bradley, Peter Burke, Patrick Roche (all Castleisland), Cathal O'Donovan (Annascaul) and Aodhan O'Connor (Dingle)
As stated earlier there was no final joy for any of the Kerry competitors in either the Senior or Junior championships in Killarney on Sunday last.
In the senior mens singles defending champion Kerry's Tom Bourke surrendered his singles crown at the semi ffinal stage to Cork's Conor Hayes who went on to annex the title.
Hayes and his partner Eoin Walsh was Bourke's nemesis also in the mens doubles final where Bourke and Eric Nelligan were also defending their title but the Kerry pair went down in 2 sets by 21-15; 21-10.
The senior mixed doubles competition was a hard fought event and this saw Kerry's Helen Twomey and Tom Bourke battle through a torrid semi final but fell to the defending champions Cork's Liam McNamara and Waterford's Gemma Tobin in the Munster final by 21-16; 21-18
The Junior championships saw Kerry players contest 3 finals.
In the mens doubles decider Castleisland's Michael Crossan with Tipperary's Cormac O'Connor lost in 2 hard fought sets to a Tipperary pairing by 21-15; 21-16.
The mixed doubles final saw Elaine Hudson (Moyvane) and Fergal Hannon (Listowel) win a close first set by 21-19 but just lost the second set by the same scoreline and went down on the third set by 21-10 to another Cork pairing.
What a great battle Killarney's Sinead Galvin put up in the Ladies singles final against the top seed Cork's Lucy Kearns.
The Killarney lady was down 20-14 in set number one and it looked all over but Mrs. Galvin had other ideas and showing great fight she levelled the set at 20 each but the Cork lady broke serve and captured the set by 22-20.
Mrs. Galvin regained her composure in the second set and was always in command and levelled the match on the score of 17-21.
Set number 3 was another classic which was score for score but the pendulum turned the Cork way at a vital time as Kearns took the set and the Munster title by 21-18 but what a brave effort it proved to be by the Killarney player.
The coming weekend is a blank one on the competitive front but from a Kerry Badminton Association perspective the important event of the week is the annual table quiz to be held at O'Donnell's Bar, Tralee on Friday next, commencing at 8.30pm with a charge of €30 for a table of 4.
The Kerry executive invite all Badminton followers to the quiz, but especially hope to get support from all Kerry team members, as well as from the parents of the many juvenile players who are so well catered in coaching and competitions and indeed, the support of all clubs where it is hoped that there will be a minimum of 4 tables per club.