It was a great weekend for Roscommon Handball at provincial level but not so go for the county’s representatives at National level.
Aengus Cunningham looks back on the action.
60×30 Juvenile Connacht Finals
Roscommon Handball had a very successful day in the 60×30 Juvenile Connacht Finals, which were held in St. Coman’s last Saturday. The county won four out of the five winning titles which were contested on the day along with two more receiving walkovers.
The stars of the show from a Roscommon point of view were the very young Under 12 pair Rory Carthy and Irslam Yakhyaev. Despite their inexperience they routed Sean Stafford and Mark Kearns, two strong 12 year olds from Galway. The well drilled, left-right combination from St. Coman’s took charge from the off and never relented throughout winning by a surprisingly wide margin of 15-4, 15-1. What makes the result so impressive is the fact that Rory is still U11 and Irslam only turned 10 recently. Ones to watch!
The U13 pair of Philip Halliday and Eanna Moran are highly thought of, but until Saturday had yet to win a Connacht title in championship handball. They finally got it right when they beat Galway’s David Donoghue and Aaron McDongah in a match that got tougher the longer it lasted. Early on the Moycullen pair struggled with Eanna’s impressive power and serving, but gradually they adapted. Even though the first was 15-6 in Roscommon’s favour, points were harder to come by. In the second Philip’s serving kept the Ros lads ahead as the opposition improved. By the end though, Eanna’s power came to the fore again and helped finish it 15-8.
Magomed Yakhyaev’s U15 encounter with Galway’s Sean Seoige was expected to be a close affair, but showing excellent consistency ‘Mog’ coolly picked the Moycullen lad apart. Seoige really struggled with Mog’s pinpoint serving in the first going down 3-15 and while he started the second well by taking a 8-1 lead, it didn’t take Mog long to regain control and he eased himself to a 15-8 victory.
The oldest of the Yakhaev brothers, Halid, had a very comfortable win in his U17 final with Claregalway’s Shane Lawless. Halid’s execution of the Kilkenny lob serve caused his opponent any amount of trouble and showing much improved footwork, Halid had it more or less his own way throughout, winning 21-1, 21-3.
The fourth Yakhaev brother, Ahmed, was well beaten in his U13 semi-final against eventual winner Mayo’s Niall Fleming.
The two walkovers for Roscommon were Dylan Hanley in U16 singles and Oisin and Fionn Cusack in U17 doubles, who along with Magomed and Halid will compete in the All-Ireland semi-finals against Ulster on 2 October.
All-Ireland 60×30 Mens Senior Doubles Championship
Damien Martin and Rikki O’Gara’s bid for Senior glory will have to wait another year after losing to the reigning champs Dublin’s Eoin Kennedy and Carl Browne in the 60×30 Senior Doubles quarter-final held in Crinkle, Co. Offaly last Saturday.
The Roscommon pair will probably look back with some regret at the result, as they never reached the heights they are capable of despite bringing the match to three games.
The opening period was pretty even with some decent rallies and no one dominating. However, once the experienced Dubs upped the ante they closed the game out impressively, winning 21-10.
It looked like a washout at the beginning of the second as the Rossies went 0-9 down, however, they finally produced some quality handball and levelled the game at 10-10, before taking a four point lead that they never relinquished, winning 21-17.
At this stage, it looked a hard game to call but when the chips were down the Dubs showed champions’ resolve by taking a 10 point lead in the one service hand having been level at 3-3. The St. Coman’s duo never recovered and fell to a very disappointing 21-5 third game defeat.
All-Ireland 60×30 Ladies Senior Doubles Championship
Roscommon’s other Senior representatives were Siobhan and Fiona Tully. They were also up against reigning champions in Cork’s Catriona Casey and Aisling O’Keefe. Whether or not they were feeling the after effects of their excellent Ladies County Football Final win the previous day the Tullys were always facing an uphill task. The match ended up being very one sided and the Cork girls won 21-7, 21-2.