Division 1: Is it Gavin Buggy’s to lose?


D1 semi finals: Gavin Buggy (STY) v Galen Riordan (BAH), Paul Lambert (STY) v Josh Kavanagh (STJ)

Preview by AOB

He didn’t just top the table with 20 points from a possible 21; he also posted the best scoring average of 14.60 points per game, and conceded the least, a measly 6.27 points per game. Those stats amounted to a domination of a quality Division 1 field and left nobody in any doubt that Gavin Buggy is hell-bent on returning to the summit of 4 wall handball in Wexford.

That position is currently occupied by the 2018 and 2019 county senior singles champion, Galen Riordan and it is he who will stand in the way of Buggy’s ambition when they clash in the semi final on Wednesday 4th December. Riordan for his part has not reproduced that type of form thus far this season, but it has not prevented him making these knockout stages and with improvement to come he is the opponent that nobody wanted at this stage of the competition. Buggy though has taken this inaugural county league very seriously and even at 45 years of age his general fitness and mobility is legendary. Allied to his want it makes him a terribly difficult man to contain, something Riordan was reminded of when they clashed earlier in the league and Buggy took the tie break by an emphatic 15-0.

The second semi final sees Paul Lambert face the up and coming Josh Kavanagh and it speaks volumes for Lambert’s form this season that the only defeat he suffered in this competition was to Gavin Buggy. Although still an intermediate grade player, he turned over seniors Galen Riordan and Tommy Hynes in impressive style and could have more to come. Overall his performances have consistently been very good and it augurs well for his chances in this semi final, that he was a comfortable 15-5, 15-7 winner when the pair met on 7th October.

By contrast Josh Kavanagh will have viewed this league as a stepping stone to greater things in his own under 18 age group and looking back on a successful campaign which included a tie break win over Tommy Hynes, he will undoubtedly feel vindicated in having taken on the big boys. That is not to say he will lack motivation in attempting to overturn that earlier outcome against ‘Curly’, but the extent of his ambition will be measured by how much determination and mental resolve he shows on 4th December. Those factors  may well go a long way in deciding the outcome, because his other skill sets needed for victory are already in place.

Adam Walsh (STY) and Mark Doyle (TAG) also competed with distinction against the older and well established senior and intermediate players and both enhanced already growing reputations. In particular, 16-year-old Doyle produced an eye-catching performance to topple Tommy Hynes in his last match, having mixed a successful All Ireland colleges softball campaign with the 4 wall league.

Any overview of the leagues’ top division will conclude that the young players of Wexford are making rapid progress and this was the hoped for outcome when the concept was devised. As for the destination of the winners medal, well that’s a bit more difficult isn’t it?

On the basis of what has gone before, it is difficult to make a case for anything other than a Buggy v Lambert final and on the form he has shown right from the beginning of this competition, it’s hard to look beyond Buggy becoming the first champion.

Some might say it’s his to lose but table toppers have an unconvincing record in Wexford handball and “hiding in the long grass” does come to mind!