Handball: Kennedy finds seventh heaven in retaining his senior crown
Dublin's Eoin Kennedy secured his seventh consecutive All-Ireland 60x30 Senior Singles title in Abbeylara, Co Longford on Saturday, when he defeated Westmeath's Robbie McCarthy in a thrilling final.
With a capacity crowd at the midlands venue, the opening game provided some of the best handball played in a senior final in years, with both players moving each other around the court at pace, and fighting for every ace.
McCarthy led half-way through the opener, but Kennedy levelled matters at 12-12 as excitement in the gallery began to build.
Both players pulled out some top-drawer finishes, with McCarthy using the left corner dump-shot to great effect, as well as rolling two balls dead. Kennedy was also in firing form and when he went 20-19 up, it looked like he had the first game in his pocket. McCarthy then pulled out an awesome corner kill to gain service, much to the delight of the Westmeath supporters.
He drew level at 20-20 but was unable to make that vital ace and Kennedy made no mistake when the opportunity came, hitting a right corner-kill from over 25 feet back on the left side of the court. McCarthy was visibly frustrated leaving the court after the first game and never found the same form again.
The second game was dominated by the Dubliner, but McCarthy kept in touch and when the players were level at 13 apiece, a third game looked on the cards. Kennedy had other ideas however, as he stormed into top gear and with a 21-15 win sealed his place in seventh heaven.
"Winning close games are always a great feeling, but winning a final like that is something special," said 31-year-old Kennedy. "Robbie played exceptionally well, but thankfully I pulled out the aces when I needed them."
In the Minor decider, Galway's Martin Mulkerrins collected the county's first All-Ireland Singles title since 2002 when he defeated Limerick's Padraig O'Carroll 21-19, 21-14.
O'Carroll's brother, Seamus, had better fortunes in the Intermediate Doubles Final, where he partnered Paul Hedderman to a 21-14, 21-14 win over Kilkenny's Timmy and David Clifford to confirm senior status for both Limerick players in 2011.