Kennedy and Browne win Semi-Final Thriller 2015-10-04 19:12:00

After a two and a half hour marathon match at the Longford Abbeylara venue, St Brigid’s Eoin Kennedy and Carl Browne defeated the very strong Mayo pairing of Dessis Keegan and Joe McCann 21-14, 18-21, 21- 11 in the All-Ireland Senior Doubles Semi-Final.

The first game was extremely tight at the start with Dublin and Mayo exchanging aces and tying the score several times until Keegan and McCann drew away to lead 14-9. Kennedy and Browne refused to panic however and gradually gained some momentum to tie the score at 14 each to the cheers of the spectators. With some excellent serving and confident killing the Dublin pair went into overdrive running out the first game 21-14.

The second game started off with Mayo leading but after many spectacular rallies often exceeding 30 or 40 shots, the score was tied at six and again at nine. Despite the Dublin pair leading 11-9 the Mayo players fought back and gradually swung the game in their favour to lead 16-13 and then 19-13.  Needing only two more aces to with the second game the Mayo pair had to survive long rallies and several exchanges of hands as the Dublin pair refused to concede the game easily and eventually after many energy sapping rallies getting back to18-19. With the Dublin supporters in strong voice it looked like they might continue the comeback to win in two straight games but the experience of Keegan and McCann showed as they closed out the second game 21-19.

The third game tie-breaker to 21 aces fully lived up to the expectations of the spectators as both pairs continued to fight for supremacy. Behind 4-1 at the start Kennedy and Browne came back ace by ace to tie the scores at 4 all and going on to lead 6-4. Again the Mayo pair fought back to 6 all and with excellent kill shots from both Keegan and Browne they went into an 8-6 lead. After several exchanges of hands they inched further ahead to lead 9-6. The momentum changed yet again with the Dublin pair getting three aces to tie the score at 9 all. After a fantastic kill shot by Kennedy to end a huge rally exceeding 50 shots, Browne was not to be outdone with great anticipation on the right hand side and several diving pick-ups to keep points going which eventually went the way of the Dublin pair. With a 14-9 lead they looked strong and with Kennedy covering every inch of the court and Browne minding the front of the court their array of complementary skills showed that playing together they are a formidable force.

Again superb long distance kills by Kennedy and Browne provided a 15-9 lead and the Dublin pair looked almost home. But the 4 times finalists from Mayo were not to give up easily fighting back to 11-15. Again Kennedy and Browne got back into serve and a terrific right hand corner kill by Browne nudged them further ahead. Long distance kills by Keegan and McCann brought them into serve again but they were to gain no aces as the Dublin pair took them out after two more lung-bursting rallies. The pace of the match was at last telling on the Mayo pair and pin point serving and finishing by the Dublin pair brought them to 19-11. Two final rallies proved too much for the Mayo pair and Kennedy and McCann finished out 21-11 for an excellent win.

Both pairs got a terrific reception afterwards from the spectators who were delighted by the high quality match.

The win means that Kennedy is now through to both Singles and Doubles Senior finals, a feat which has not been achieved for several years. Indeed it was Kennedy himself back in 2010 who was the last to reach both finals in the same year.

In the Singles Final (Abbeylara Saturday 10th October at 2pm) he plays Robbie McCarthy continuing the foremost rivalry in Irish handball. Having contested the last six finals the score stands at 3 all after Kennedy’s remarkable victory in 2014. Giving over ten years to his young rival Kennedy recovered from a first game 21-5 loss to eventually win 5-21, 21-18, 21-14.

Can he repeat the feat in 2015 to win his 10th Singles title?

The Doubles  final is scheduled for the Abbeylara venue on the 17th October when Kennedy and Browne play Ciaran Neary and Michael Walsh from Kilkenny.

Both finals promise to be thrillers so Abbeylara is the place to be for the next two Saturdays!

Note: The Senior Singles and Doubles Championships are sponsored by Martin Donnelly under the logo.

Further information is available on the GAA Handball and GAA Handball Facebook websites.

St Brigids GAA Club,
Russell Park, Navan Road, Dublin 15