D2: A tight and open division where everyone has a chance


D2 semi finals: Terry Gainfort (CAB) v Barry McWilliams (HOW), Noel Holohan (TLU) v Mick Armstrong (KIL) at St. Josephs on Monday, 2nd December

Preview by AOB

Wexford’s second tier players provided plenty of commitment and entertainment, but nobody managed to dominate in a division where everybody tasted defeat at least once. It makes for two very interesting and open semi finals, with all four contenders appearing to hold a change of outright victory.

Terry Gainfort suffered his only defeat in the competition in his very first game against Matthew Hynes, but he recovered well to win all of his remaining matches and claim the Leading Qualifier medal. During that successful run he saw off the challenge of semi final opponent Barry McWilliams in a tie break, but question marks hover over that outcome as the latter was nursing an injury at that time. Now in better fettle, the Horeswood player looks certain to present a stern challenge on this occasion and if allowed time on the shortline, he has the wit and the unorthodox style to cause major problems for anybody.

Notwithstanding that however Gainfort continues to make steady progress after spending many years away from the sport and although the physical effort sometimes takes its toll, he has the hands and the class to get himself out of trouble at this level.

The second semi final sees 38 year old Holohan opposed by 54 year old Armstrong and if anyone thinks the Kilmyshall veteran is merely making up the numbers in this division they could not been watching the earlier league stages of the competition. Armstrong has proven to be a thorn in the side of everybody he played, none more so that Holohan who was forced to go to a tie break to win when they met back on 25th October.

Armstrong likes to take control of centre court and can be difficult to navigate around sometimes but Holohan has power in both hands and should be able to pass him often enough to make things very interesting.

Overall then it’s fair to say that all four contenders can win this but if I had to stick my neck out, I’d be giving a hesitant vote to Barry McWilliams. But only if the odds were generous!