Treble for Dublin and Kennedy's grand slam?
September 10, 2007
Egin Jensen and Eoin Kennedy
Dublin's Egin Jensen and Eoin Kennedy are aiming for a three-in-a-row of senior softball doubles wins when they take on Mayo's Dessie Keegan and Joe McCann in the Martin Donnelly sponsored All-Ireland final on Saturday 15th September. It is the repeat of the 2005 final which Dublin won in a thriller by 21-11, 13-21, 21-13. Kennedy who took the singles title for the 4th year in succession 2 weeks ago has the chance of winning the grand slam of titles in the 60 x 30 court. Already he has won the hardball singles & doubles & softball singles and needs just the softball doubles to claim all 4 titles a feat that hasn't been achieved since John Ryan of Wexford back in 1957.
Since 2004 when Egin Jensen joined the Dublin ranks with Eoin Kennedy the duo have had great success winning 5 All-Ireland senior doubles titles, 2 softball, 2 hardball and 1 40 x 20 doubles. Both Kennedy & Jensen have great awareness in court and team play. Kennedy will probably cover the back while Egin Jensen will take up his place around the short line. Dublin will have to watch out for Keegan's explosive power when going for kills. Any set ups by Dublin and Keegan will bury the ball in front of them on the wall. McCann also will have a big bearing on the final. McCann too is strong and a great team player. McCann is very agile and his great athletic prowess at retrieving and using the ball efficiently is well known. Kennedy not alone a handball champion but has a great handball brain and is cool under pressure. How he performs on the day will ultimately decide the outcome It has all the hallmarks of a great final. Mayo will be eager to atone for their 2005 loss to Dublin 2 years ago. More experienced and stronger this time Mayo will feel they have nothing to lose while Dublin will start as favourites. Kennedy is in such great form this year and with Jensen also coming into form at the right time it is hard to see beyond a Dublin victory. Another close match is on the cards with Dublin to win a close and exciting final. Mayo's previous win came in 1966 with Mickey Walsh & Peadar McGee. Mayo are still waiting for their second senior softball doubles title in 82 years since the competition was first played for back in 1925. They may have to wait a little longer.
Eoin Kennedy is 28 y.o and is a lecturer in NUI Maynooth. Kennedy is the holder of 14 Senior handball titles. He also has won 3 Irish open singles and a Collegiate title representing DCU in 2001. In 1999 he won the USA open singles and two years later won the Canadian singles final with a resounding win over the legendary Canadian player Merv Deckertt in Halifax Nova Scotia. Kennedy also has 3 Vodafone All-Star Awards. The St. Brigid's player also has a world title when he partnered Cork's Tony Healy as they beat Paul Brady & Michael Finnegan in the Men's open final last year.
An employee of Aer Lingus Egin Jensen is the elder statesman at 42 and has accumulated over 25 All-Ireland titles in handball. He won many of those at underage level with Meath which also included 2 senior doubles 40 x 20 in 1996/97. In 2004 Egin transferred to Dublin and has gained 5 All-Ireland titles with Eoin Kennedy 2 softball, 2 hardball and 1 40 x 20 doubles. Jensen has 2 World handball titles he won the Men's A/B doubles with Eugene Downey in Phoenix U.S.A. in 1994 and the Masters Doubles with Michael "Ducksy" Walsh of Kilkenny in Canada last year
Also looking forward to the final Kennedy said "we're really looking forward to it. I think it is going to be a cracker. The Mayo boys are really up for it. They said it is going to be their goal this year to win the doubles. Myself and Egin are playing for the last number of years and are experienced. We played well in the semi-finals. I think it is going to be a right belter of a game. A crowd pleaser as well. As far as we're concerned we don't mind as long as we win it"
Eoin Kennedy & Egin Jensen (D) bt Tommy Hynes & Gavin Buggy (Wex) 21-15, 21-16
Dessie Keegan & Joe McCann (Mayo) bt Tom Sheridan & Walter O'Connor (Meath) 21-15, 21-3.
Joe McCann is 24 and is employed by Abbott in Sligo as a Diagnostic Technician. McCann has 8 All-Ireland titles. He won the U-21 40 x 20 singles in 2003 and the following year won the Intermediate singles and doubles with Campbell Brennan. Joe is also a World Champion when he triumphed in the Men's A 40 x 20 singles in Edmonton Canada last year. Joe is a member of the Ballaghaderreen Club that have won 8 All-Ireland Interclub titles and have completed the 4-in-a-row of club titles this year. Already Joe & Dessie have played in an All-Ireland doubles final this year losing the 40 x 20 senior 40 x 20 doubles to Cavan's Paul Brady & Michael Finnegan. In the semi-final they beat their final opponents on Saturday evening Dublin's Eoin Kennedy & Egin Jensen.
Dessie Keegan is 25 y.o. and works in the Housing Department in Roscommon Co Council. Already the holder off over 50 All-Ireland titles added to the 4 USHA titles, 4 World titles & 3 European titles. Keegan like Kennedy is very accomplished in all handball competitions and has represented Ireland on numerous occasions at underage level right up to senior level. Last year in fact Dessie and Eoin Kennedy represented Ireland at the 1ST One Wall Italian championships and came away with the Cup. Keegan is also a noted Pelota handball player and has played in the Basque Country. Two years ago it was my pleasure to be a part of the Irish team setup that travelled to the Basque region and Keegan's display against the famed Pelota players was a sight to behold as he gave one of the best displays that I have ever seen from an Irish player. His exploits against the Pelota players was awesome and at the end of the match Dessie received a standing ovation from the appreciative Basque supporters in the stands. Keegan is known all over the world from the U.S.A. to the Basque Country as the hardest hitter in handball. He has devastating power and his skill of killing the ball is legendary and a sight to behold.
McCann is also looking forward to the final. "In 2005 we went in with very little experience and didn't know what to expect. We realised we could have played better that evening. We are glad we are playing Dublin again in the final. We know that Dublin are very experienced. Since January we have been training twice a week and since the doubles campaign started we have upped this to 3-4 evenings a week. This year we made a conscious decision we would give the doubles a good rattle. We realise that Dublin are the team to beat. Hoping for a Mayo win and confident in our own ability" added Joe.
Martin Donnelly All-Ireland championships 60 x 30 softball finals Saturday September 15th in Croke Park at 3 p.m.
Kilkenny (Ciarán Neary, Keith Bourke) v Limerick (CJ Fitzpatrick, Seamus O'Carroll)
Mayo (Ollie Cassidy) v Tipperary (Paul Mullins)
Dublin (Eoin Kennedy, Egin Jensen) v Mayo (Dessie Keegan, Joe McCann
Egin Jensen & Eoin Kennedy (Dublin) v Dessie Keegan & Joe McCann (Mayo)
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