Ulster dominate in All Ireland Juvenile Finals arena
09 April 2012
The cream of Irish Juvenile handball converged on O'Loughlin Gaels' HC, Kilkenny, on Easter Sunday, for a fantastic day of GAA Handball All Ireland 40x20 Championship Finals. The 2012 roll of honour for the 40x20 court was completed on a day when a host of rising young stars of the game cemented their status as among the best in Ireland and beyond in a hugely exciting World Championship year.
The terrific skill and sportsmanship on view was highly impressive and the packed stands in both courts were treated to a series of first class games in another brilliantly positive weekend for the sport and the association.
It proved to be a very big occasion for Ulster counties too as the northern province secured half of the All Ireland titles on offer with Tyrone having their best finals day in history, with 4 brilliant All Ireland Juvenile Championship wins.
Those included a fantastic Under 14 singles triumph for Brackey club player, Sean Kerr, who became only the second player from the O'Neill County to win this blue ribband title, last won by Tyrone in 1984. He also had to display a very high level of skill and character to claim the honours on a 15-13, 15-13 scoreline in probably the match of the day against another gifted young player from Tipperary, Jason English.There is no question that both young players are set to figure very prominently in the years ahead at the highest level of the sport.
The red Hand County also followed up on the day with a fine win in the Under 16 Doubles championship, when Johnny Woods and Ryan Mullan teamed up for an eye-catching win over Kilkenny's talented combination of Brian Mahon and Emmett Landy. Pauric Mullan and Jack Campbell then teamed up to take the Under 15 doubles championship honours back to Tyrone and they secured a quarter of the titles on offer on the day when Maeve Mcelduff and Aoife Kelly served up a very convincing performance to capture the Under 16 Girls doubles championship gold medals.
Tyrone's neighbours, Armagh, also had their best ever day in the Juvenile finals arena when they picked up a hat-trick of impressive title wins too. The Orchard County enjoyed a clean sweep in the Girls Under 14 grade when firstly Niamh Coleman denied Kerry's Aileen Twomey in a three game thriller, winning out 15-8 in the deciding game in another of the best games of the series. Armagh followed up with a commanding display in the Girls Under 14 doubles final as Aoibhinn Henderson and Alana Doran secured gold with a tremendous showing to defeat Clare's Clodagh Nash and Doireann Murphy. Brian McAnenly defied the odds in the Boys Under 15 SIngles final to make it three wins for Armagh from as many final appearances as he denied hotly fancied young Wexford star, Oisin Foley, in an absorbing contest winning 15-14 and 15-5 after losing the opening game by 15-12.
The blue ribband titles in the Juvenile Championships are the Boys and Girls Under 16 SIngles events and two of the most exciting young players to have emerged on the Irish scene in years entered both finals as very hot favourites to prevail. Galway's Ciana Ní Churraoin was again in unstoppable form in her Under 16 final against Kilkenny's skillful Kirsty Maher in two straight games and Clare's Colin Corbett added another All Ireland gold to his glittering juvenile CV as he overcame Monaghan's Eugene McGeogh 21-5, 21-16. Corbett certainly looks to be a name that will be up in lights at all the major events in the future but the Monaghan teenager gave a brilliant account of himself in a first final appearance and looks destined for an exciting time ahead in the game also.
Limerick enjoyed two title wins on the day when firstly Nigel O Callaghan and Evan Murphy denied Tyrone a five-timer as they defeated Matthew McCartan and Shane McCrystal by 15-6 in the deciding third game of the Under 14 doubles final. Hospital club's Padraig Quish made it a double success for the county when he had to work hard against a very talented young Antrim player, Jordan O'Neill, to claim the Under 17 singles crown. The doubles championship in that grade also went north as Down's Pat Havern and Stephen Digney, from the Saval club, emerged impressive winners against Cork's Michael Dunne and Aidan Kerins.
Cork did pick up a gold medal on the day when Katie Fleming overcame Sligo's Aoife Quinn in the Girls Under 15 Singles final while the most convincing winner of the day came in the Girls Under 17 singles final as Kildare's Katie Dagg overcame Tyrone's Zara Girvan in convincing fashion to take that medal to the Leixlip club. Galway's second title win of the afternoon came in the Under 15 doubles when Galway's Heather Spellman and Elaine Mitchell overcame Kerry's Aisling O Brien and Michaela O Donoghue by 15-3, 15-10.
The host county did enjoy an All Ireland success in the last final of the day when Kilkenny's Mary Buggy and Ashling Maher enjoyed a thrilling three game victory over Mayo's Shona Ruane and Clare Shannon, winning 11-7 in the tie-break.
All Ireland Juvenile 40x20 Championship title spread 2012:
Tyrone - 4 titles, Armagh - 3 titles, Galway - 2 titles, Limerick - 2 titles, Clare - 1 title, Cork - 1 title, Down - 1 title, Kilkenny - 1 title, Kildare - 1 title
GAA Handball All Ireland JUVENILE 40x20 Championship Finals
BU14 Singles: Tyrone (Sean Kerr) dft Tipperary (Jason English) 15-13, 15-13
BU14 Doubles: Limerick (Nigel O Callaghan/Evan Murphy) dft Tyrone (Matthew McCartan/Shane McCrystall) 15-6, 8-15, 15-6
BU15 Singles: Armagh (Brian McAnenly) dft Wexford (Oisin Foley) 12-15, 15-14, 15-5
BU15 Doubles: Tyrone (Jack Campbell/Pauric Mullan) dft Kilkenny (Padraig Cooney/Niall Walsh) 15-14, 15-4
BU16 Singles: Clare (Colin Corbett) dft Monaghan (Eugene McGeough) 21-5, 21-16
BU16 Doubles: Tyrone (Johnny Woods/Ryan Mullan) dft Kilkenny (Emmet Landy/Brian Mahon) 21-10, 21-9
BU17 Singles: Limerick (Padraig Quish) dft Antrim (Jordan O Neill) 21-8, 21-10
BU17 Doubles: Down (Pat Havern/Stephen Digney) dft Cork (Michael Dunne/Aidan Kerins) 21-7, 21-5
GU14 Singles: Armagh (Niamh Coleman) dft Kerry (Aileen Twomey) 11-15, 15-9, 15-8
GU14 Doubles: Armagh (Aoibhinn Henderson/Alana Doran) dft Clare (Clodagh Nash/Doireann Murphy) 15-4, 15-11
GU15 Singles: Cork (Katie Fleming) dft Sligo (Aoife Quinn) 15-10, 15-4
GU15 Doubles: Galway (Heather Spellman/Elaine Mitchell) dft Kerry (Aisling O Brien/Michaela O Donoghue) 15-3, 15-10
GU16 Singles: Galway (Ciana Ní Churraoin) dft Kilkenny (Kirsty Maher) 21-2, 21-3
GU16 Doubles: Tyrone (Maeve McElduff/Aoife Kelly) dft Clare (Natasha Coughlan/Michelle Nihill) 21-1, 21-1
GU17 Singles: Kildare (Kate Dagg) dft Tyrone (Zara Girvan) 21-0, 21-1
GU17 Doubles: Kilkenny (Mary Buggy/Ashling Maher) dft Mayo (Shona Ruane/Clare Shannon) 21-9, 12-21, 11-7