Sunday, September 15, 2013

Paddy Walsh is All-Ireland handball champion

Sligo handball legend Paddy Walsh with his All-Ireland medal

Walsh weaves his magic

Sligo handball legend Paddy Walsh captured his 29th All-Ireland handball title with a thrilling victory over Cork’s Pat O’Brien in Tuamgraney Clare on Saturday, writes Michael McGee

O’Brien defeated Walsh in the 40x 20 singles final last April in the same venue. This time Walsh was ready and prepared well going into the final.

Walsh had a whirlwind start racing into an 18-1 lead.  The St. Mary’s club player was simply outstanding in the opening game.  With excellent serving and finishing he took a commanding lead. O’Brien got a brace of points but Walsh finished the opening game in fine style with a kill into the left corner taking it by 21-6
The second was a rip roaring contest with O’Brien trying to get to grips with Walsh’s mesmerizing onslaught.  At 13-13 in the second O’Brien looked to be gaining control but Walsh’s worked his magic yet again and left the leg weary O’Brien in his wake.  Walsh at 73 years of age covered every inch of the Clare court like a young Usain Bolt, and with superior finishing O’Brien simply had no answer. The Clare venue was captivated by Walsh’s spellbinding performance. 
Walsh took a vice like grip on proceedings.   O’Brien could not add to his overall tally. The Sligo handball star scintillating display led to an impressive victory in the end by 21-13.  It was Walsh’s twenty ninth All-Ireland handball title in a glorious career. It was a long journey to Clare but the return journey will have been one of the shortest and the sweetest ever for the Sligo handball legend.
“Walsh is the father figure in Sligo handball and his display on Saturday was both outstanding and inspirational.  His passion for the game knows no bounds.  His exploits last weekend will I expect be the catalyst for the next generation of Sligo handball players to try to emulate what our star handballer has achieved since winning his first All-Ireland title back in 1974.  Just like his famous namesake Michael “Ducksy” Walsh of Kilkenny handball fame Paddy Walsh has already left an indelible mark on Sligo handball. The senior statesman is already looking forward to the 2014 season with great optimism.”

Martin Donnelly sponsored All-Ireland handball 60 x 30 championships finals:
Over 70’s:  Paddy Walsh (Sligo) dft Pat O’Brien (Cork) 21-6, 21-13

There was no joy for Sligo players  in the All-Ireland Juvenile 60 x 30 championships semi-finals played in Kilfane Kilkenny on Sunday.  Jason Earlis was defeated by Kilkenny’s J.J. English  21-8, 21-8  in the U-17 singles while the doubles pairing of Stanley Harte & Patrick Fox also came up short against Kilkenny’s  Darragh O’Shea & Mark Dowling by 21-10, 21-14 in the U-17 doubles.

Jason Earlis on left with Kilkenny's J.J. English All-Ireland U-17 singles semi-final ( photo thanks to Martin Cooney)

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