Friday 6 December 2019

Sport in brief: Kennedy upsets odds with ninth title

Eoin Kennedy, Dublin, with the trophy after the game
Eoin Kennedy, Dublin, with the trophy after the game
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Handball: Eoin Kennedy’s legacy as one of the greatest handballers in the history of the sport has long been secured but the manner of his extraordinary win over Robbie McCarthy last Saturday may nudge him up a spot or two in the all-time rankings.

Written off in the build-up and trounced in the opening set, 35-year-old Kennedy conjured up some of the old magic to complete a fairytale comeback against defending champion McCarthy in a magnificent M Donnelly All-Ireland 60x30 Senior Singles final at Abbeylara, Co Longford.

The win marked a ninth title for Kennedy (35) but his eighth had come in 2010 and he went into the match as heavy underdog against the four-in-a-row seeking Westmeath man.

However, Kennedy rolled back the years with a remarkable display of controlled, aggressive handball which saw him stun his younger opponent and record the biggest upset of the season - and maybe even the decade.

McCarthy lived up to his billing in the first game, holding centre-court, pinning Kennedy back and consistently ending rallies with fly kills off either side. The Mullingar man was mesmerising as he raced to a 21-5 win.

But the methodical Kennedy clawed his way back into the contest and, killing consistently down the right side against a suddenly gun-shy McCarthy, he took game two 21-17 and, astonishingly, rode his momentum to build up a 13-1 lead in the decider.

The powerful McCarthy suddenly found his groove again and stormed back to 10-15 but the veteran’s nerve held and, utilising a lob serve and aggressive strategy, Kennedy closed the match out 21-14 amid joyous scenes.

A tearful Kennedy afterwards described McCarthy as “a great, great champion”, but gave no indication as to whether he would now hang up his gloves after a glittering career at senior level.

On the undercard, Meath’s Gary McConnell defeated Galway’s Martin Mulkerrins to take home the Intermediate Singles on a scoreline of 12-21, 21-6, 21-7, while the Minor Singles went to Tyrone for the first time.

Snooker

Stuart Bingham cruised to a 10-3 victory over Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen at the Shanghai Masters to claim his second ranking event title on Saturday.

Bingham beat 2013 winner Ding Junhui in the semi-final and continued his fine form against  Allen.

The world number 10 led 6-3 after the first session of the final and pulled away to record a comprehensive victory.

Bingham’s only previous ranking title came at the 2011 Australian Open and he made breaks of 99, 68, 57 and 81 on his way to victory in China.

Allen, by contrast, was well below his best despite recording an excellent semi-final victory over world number one and world champion Mark Selby.

Hockey

UCD’s threadbare squad started the new Leinster League term with defeat on the double in the absence of many of last season’s stars.

Saturday’s 4-2 loss away to Corinthians was followed by yesterday’s 3-1 home defeat by YMCA whose foreign legion was to the fore.

Tasmanian Tom Ritchie’s early opener at Belfield was swiftly followed by strikes at penalty corners from the South African pair of Jaco Fourie and Jacque Odendaal, all in the first half.

With internationals Shane O’Donoghue, Peter Brown and Nick Burns no longer on the books, college looked a shadow of the side that earned a top five spot last term.motorsport

At the end of a dramatic three days, Monaghan pair Daniel McKenna and Arthur Kierans were crowned as British Rally champions for the first time despite their Pirelli Citroen DS3 finishing well down the field in Rally Isle of Man at the weekend. 

The Irish pair went into the rally, split into two separate points scoring opportunities, in the championship lead thanks to three earlier wins during the year, against chief rival Osian Pryce’s single victory. However, it was the Welshman who set the early pace, while McKenna dropped from contention when he rolled his car on one of Friday’s stages, giving Pryce a hope of taking the title.

But Pryce also had major problems, with a loose tank guard costing him time and then he too badly damaged his car against a rock, leaving him out of contention for the win he needed to deny McKenna and Kierans the championship.

Cycling

Mark Cavendish lost out by inches to Marcel Kittel in a sprint finish on the final stage of the Tour of Britain, as Dylan van Baarle retained the yellow jersey; a double in the absence of many of last season’s stars.

Van Baarle took spot as Bradley Wiggins moved up to third with a time trail victory in London.

Cricket

ANDREW POYNTER smashed an unbeaten century as Leinster Lightning beat the Northern Knights by 47 runs at Waringstown, near Belfast yesterday to add the NewsTalk FM InterPro one-day title to their three-day crown.

If there were any lingering doubts about Poynter’s selection for the World Cup squad they were put to bed as the Clontarf right-hander struck 15 boundaries, including six sixes.

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