Treble for Dublin and Kennedy's grand slam

September 17, 2007

From the top: Eoin Kennedy and Egin Jensen. Paul Mullins Tom Walsh and Ollie Cassidy. CJ Fitzpatrick and Seamus O'Carroll.
Egin Jensen and Eoin Kennedy won their third successive Martin Donnelly softball doubles with a comfortable victory over Mayo's Dessie Keegan and Kevin Geraghty from Mayo played in Croke Park on Saturday 15th September, writes Michael McGee. For Eoin Kennedy from the St. Brigid's club in Blanchardstown is a year he will remember fondly and entering the history books as only the 3rd player to win the grand slam of 60 x 30 titles, the others being the late John Ryan (Wexford) 1957, and Walter O'Connor (Meath) 1998. Welcome visitors to the finals included Dave Vincent & Jeff Kastner from the U.S.H.A who are interviewing the top Irish players before they head to Los Angeles to take part in the U.S. handball open next month. Limerick's stars shine in Minor doubles victory First on the 3 match programme was the Minor Doubles final between Limerick's CJ Fitzpatrick & Seamus O'Carroll as they faced Kilkenny's Ciaran Neary & Keith Bourke. Kilkenny were going for a 3-in-a-row of Minor doubles wins in the competition. The first game the Kilkenny players will want to forget in a hurry as Limerick totally dominated. O'Carroll especially prominent with excellent serving to both Bourke & Neary won many points from. Limerick got 12 points straight on the trot. When Kilkenny got into serve they could not make it count. In the end Kilkenny failed to "raise a flag" in Croke Park in the first game as Limerick ran away with it. Limerick had the better start to game 2 as well hitting the front by 6-0. Keith Bourke just 16 years old, at last coming to life showing what he can do. A number of overhand serves by Bourke brought Kilkenny close to Limerick at 6-4. CJ Fitzpatrick also had an eventful evening for Limerick as he pulverised the Kilkenny rear guard especially Neary on the left side. There was little getting past Fitzpatrick and with this Limerick pulled clear by 11-4. Kilkenny put in a determined effort with Neary beginning to make inroads into Limerick's lead. Soon Limerick's lead was whittled away to 11-9. Limerick managed to regroup and their team play was now more evident. O'Carroll got a nice fisted score with his left hand to stretch Limerick's lead to 15-9. Neary tried hard to get Kilkenny back into it but O'Carroll & Fitzpatrick stood firm and they eventually won game two by 21-9.Tom Walsh presented the Corn Nuachtain Gael Cup to the winners CJ Fitzpatrick and Seamus O'Carroll and the runners-up medals to Ciaran Neary and Keith Bourke. It was Limerick's first doubles title in 19 years. Mullins power's to Intermediate win The Intermediate singles final was between Paul Mullins from Tipperary and Mayo's Ollie Cassidy. Cassidy who was involved in a car accident 6 years ago damaging his right hand was hoping for a better "break" of luck this time. Mullins with the bonus of having played the doubles two weeks earlier was better adept at using the full length of Croke Park. Mullins using the serve that Eoin Kennedy did so well against Michael "Ducksy" Walsh 2 weeks with a high lobbing serve to Cassidy's left corner and bouncing over on the right had the Swinford player in a lot of difficulty. Cassidy when he did get into good positions didn't always make the best of his chances instead he made it easy for Mullins. Cassidy wasn't clinical enough going for kills and weak returns onto the front wall didn't help his prospects against a player with 2 good hands and who could power back Cassidy shots to the back wall. Mullins was controlling the centre court and kept moving Cassidy all over the place. Mullins had the advantage of a 7-1 opening lead. Cassidy on the right side directed a nice shot into the left corner for his 2nd score but unfortunately for him he could not add to it as Mullins with better serving and reading of the game took the first game by 21-2. After Mullins initial lead in the 2nd Cassidy with a slow build up to his serves got close to Mullins and only 5-4 behind. Cassidy missed a number of quite easy returns which dropped short and his shots was deserting him. Mullins with a powerful right hand kept Cassidy racing to the back wall to keep the ball in play a number of times as he extended his lead to 12-4. Mullins was using his side wall shots to good effect building up a good 16-6 lead in the process. Cassidy was much better in the 2nd game but so too was Mullins. Cassidy's inability to go for kills certainly worked in Mullin's favour. With his dependable right hand Mullins thwarted any slim chances of a Mayo fight back with nice passing shots. It was looking to be a Tipperary win and the inevitable did happen as Mullins with a cross court serve to Cassidy's left corner that the Swinford man didn't return. The second game finished 21-8. Anna Costica presented Paul Mullins with the J.J. Bowles cup and the runner-up medal to Ollie Cassidy. Mullins only the second Tipperary man to win the singles since David Maloney was the inaugural winner back in 1994. Before the senior final there was a one-wall exhibition game between Shauna Hiley from Wicklow and Mayo's Amy Corrigan. The Wicklow girl winning 9-6 after the 10 minutes time game. This game was to highlight that Ireland will host the 2008 European One Wall Championships. Double trouble as Jensen and Kennedy expose Mayo Dublin were first on court followed shortly afterwards by the Mayo men. Kevin Geraghty came in for the injured Joe McCann. Before the start Eileen Dunne of RTE Master of Ceremonies read out the achievements of the players while Katie McCarthy from Westmeath sang Amhran na bhFiann. Referee Paddy Collins from Tipperary got the game under way. Kevin Geraghty the late replacement for the injured Joe McCann served first but straight away Kennedy got Dublin into serve. The favourites going into a 2-0 lead when the unbelievable happened. Kevin Geraghty missed a high return down the right, Keegan seeing the situation raced to the back wall. Only about 5 feet from the glass back wall and his back to the front wall Keegan somehow returned nonchalantly with his right a back hander landing perfectly onto the front wall a low shot that rolled out. Kennedy was ready to pounce but the placed ball from Keegan's was so accurate that Kennedy could only look on. It is a shot that is well worth looking at again and again and hopefully the TG4 Camera man will show the clip. Geraghty got a nice score off the left side left leaving Dublin just 3-2 in front. Egin Jensen started to fire up with a high serve to Keegan's left and landing over on Geraghty's right. Dublin soon pulled away Kennedy was razor sharp even Keegan's low pounding shots that looked winners was picked beautifully by Kennedy and the Dublin players played Geraghty's right side to maximum effect. With Jensen's accurate cross court serving Keegan was kept out of the game and Geraghty faced the bombardment from the Dubliners. Kennedy & Jensen racked up an 18-2 lead without reply. Mayo got 3 more scores and 2 more accurate serves from Jensen to Geraghty's right corner ended the first game by 21-5. Independent Cup stays in Dublin for another year In game two it was all Dublin. Keegan taking all the serves from the back with Geraghty standing a little ahead of him. Geraghty was missing chances while Keegan persisted with going for the big kills from far out mostly dropping short. Dublin raced into a 13-0 lead. After this score Keegan with his hands on his waist waiting Dublin's serve knew that the final was going away from them. Jensen had an excellent evening for Dublin and his great serving and great awareness cutting out Mayo's returns put Dublin into a comfortable position. Mayo got a score but Dublin continued to head for the finishing line. Kennedy had a chance to wrap it up at 20-1 but missed. Mayo got 4 points in a row but it came too late as Dublin duly won the treble and Kennedy celebrated his grand slam. Martin Donnelly of the sponsors presented Eoin Kennedy & Egin Jensen with the Independent Cup.

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