Brilliant performance by Anthony Butler secures All Ireland under 15 singles title

Written by Antoin Ó Braoin, Rúnaí Contae
He sprang from the traps and swarmed all over the fancied Kavan O’Keeffe, Waterford in the first game of the All Ireland boys under 15 singles final at Talbots Inch today, but it was when he came under extreme pressure in the second game that we saw the very best of Anthony Butler.

Anthony Butler, Wexford, GAA Handball President Willie Roche and Kavan O'Keeffe, Waterford
Anthony Butler, Wexford, GAA Handball President Willie Roche and Kavan O’Keeffe, Waterford

All Ireland titles are of course won on the day but it is the preparation put in beforehand that paves the way for victory and the young Ballyhogue player had certainly put in the effort this season by taking part in the county 60×30 adult championship and several club adult tournaments along with the county juvenile championship. It all provided invaluable experience for the talented youngster who as a result has shown astonishing improvement in the past few months.
If there were nerves it did not show in that first game as the Wexford youngster served and passed his way to a comfortable 15-1 win but despite the scoreline he was working really hard and taking no chances and he knew the skillful Waterford player had more to give if allowed to do so.
Kavan did find his feet early in the second and after Anthony has eased into a 4-1 lead the Munster champion began to control the shortline with serious intent. Suddenly it was he who was killing the ball in the corners and using his trademark overhand right to guide the ball down the side walls and after a particularly productive service game he had taken a 6-4 lead. Anthony then regained the serve but failed to add to his tally and when Kavan increased his advantage to 9-4 the match appeared to be getting away from the young Wexford player. It was then however that we saw the very best of Anthony Butler as he clawed his way back to level at 9 all with a mixture of fantastic serves and rallies. He was to fall behind again at 9-10 but the momentum was now firmly with him and from there to the finish he won every rally. One of those rallies in particular when the score was 12-10 in his favour epitomised the positive attitude he brought to this final. Throughout the rally which contained about 12 shots he was very much on the defensive as Kavan hit what looked like certain winners on several occasions but he refused to yield and when he got the opportunity himself he took it with aplomb. That put him 13-10 ahead and set him up for victory. The next point came from a great serve and when Anthony dived to push the last ball around the top left hand corner the spirit of the young Dungarvan player was finally broken.
Anthony Butler is a progressive young player who is not afraid to mix it with the older players and it was evident today that he used his time playing against them to build the strength and confidence to go with the determination he showed today. It was a winning combination!