A triumph for experience over youth as Bob Byrne sees off Daniel Kavanagh
Written by Antoin Ó Braoin, Rúnai Contae
This early league section of the GAA Handball Wexford 2015 county 40×20 championships has been marked by a number of surprising results as players settle into the slightly unseasonal start to the competitions, Normally at this time of year they would be taking part in the intercounty Winter League but with the new championship structure operating on a trial basis for this season, its the Wexford championship with a difference that is taking centre stage.
Apart from the early start to the proceedings the other huge change to the championships sees players graded on their 2015 intercounty grading for the first time (county grading has been shelved) and this has created a number of unlikely matchups in several competitions.
The Junior B is one such case and the meeting of 15 year old juvenile starlet Daniel Kavanagh, St. Josephs and 39 year old Bob Byrne, Bridgetown was indeed unique. Naturally they would never have played against each other before and opinion was divided as to how this one would pan out.
It was a classic case of experience against youth, with Byrne a straightforward veteran of many a tough championship battle and Kavanagh, a stylish stroke player with huge potential who has already enjoyed All Ireland and World Championship success.
Byrne dominated the early exchanges and with Kavanagh struggling to get a foothold in the game the Bridgetown player racked up a steady stream of points as he coasted to a rather comfortable 21-10 win.
The classy Kavanagh set about the task early in the second and playing his best handball of the game he moved into a 9-2 lead. But then the experience of Byrne told yet again as he refused to panic and gradually worked his way back into the game and eventually into the lead at 15-11. Kavanagh was finding it hard to win the rallies and when Byrne went 20-12 ahead it appeared all over. Not so however as the young St. Josephs player showed plenty of bottle to reduce the deficit to 20-18 before a rather relieved Byrne got home by 21-18. The experience will have done Kavanagh a power of good as he settles into life against the older players and wise heads would say he will feature strongly at the business end of this championship come January. Meantime he needs to get the points to do so and that could mean problems for all the other contenders in his group. Byrne though will be a tough nut to crack and as the championship progresses through the league section he is likely to get even better. It makes for exciting pre Christmas times on Slaneyside.