D3: A division with quality and quantity in equal measure has much more to give


D3 semi finals: David Stanners (STM) v David Redmond (TLU), Robert Byrne (BRT) v Liam Rossiter (BAH) at St. Josephs on Monday, 2nd December

Preview by AOB

Only in Wexford! Eight players with a bucket full of county, Leinster and All Ireland medals came together in division three and standards didn’t drop as they produced more than 20 classic encounters. Four of the eight, Shane Birney, Robert Byrne, David Stanners and his brother James Stanners had all enjoyed success in the recently completed All Ireland softball championship and apart from Birney who lost out in the junior B doubles final, the other three won national titles in brilliant style.

James Stanners captured the masters B singles All Ireland title and in a rare enough achievement (with three different players) for a county in this grade, Robert Byrne and David Stanners added the masters B doubles title for good measure.

In the circumstances it was not surprising that it took them all a while to find their feet in the smaller court and in those early matches it was Liam Rossiter and David Redmond who forged ahead of the rest. As the league progressed though David Stanners and Robert Byrne worked their way through the field to take the top two positions and despite suffering his only loss to Robert Byrne it was David Stanners who claimed the Leading Qualifier medal.

Now its knockout time and what went before will have little meaning for the players, and it will be that way when Stanners and Redmond clash in the first of the two semi finals on Monday night. Redmond is always at the business end of everything he enters and while he was well beaten by his opponent a few weeks ago only a fool would discount his chances. On his day this is a prolific ‘killer’ of the ball and if he is ‘on’ then he will take all the beating. Stanners though is in great shape and on the crest of the wave following continuous success in the past few years, he is clearly the man they all have to beat.

The second semi final between Robert Byrne and Liam Rossiter is a fascinating contest between experience, as represented by Byrne and youth, in the shape of Rossiter, the All Ireland under 17 softball doubles champion from 2015. Their earlier league meeting went the way of Rossiter by a rather facile 15-7, 15-4 but few expect them to be separated by such a margin on this occasion. Like the aforementioned Redmond, Byrne is always there at the finish of a competition and his combative style of play ensures he is terribly difficult to beat, especially when it matters most. For his part Rossiter is a very attacking player who likes the bottom brick and if he is rolling them out then a repeat victory could be on the cards.

So who is best placed to win two more matches and claim the D3 title? As befits such a competitive division I feel its wide open before a semi final ball is struck and a fair case can be made for all four contenders. There is absolutely no doubt that all are capable of winning this, but in the final analysis it might just be about momentum and right now that is probably with David Stanners.

I’m ready to be wrong though!