Hynes and Buggy fail ultimate test as Kennedy and Browne stake their claim
Written by Antoin Ó Braoin, Rúnai Contae
In the end it was probably a fair enough outcome based on what had happened over the entire match but few Wexford supporters at Talbots Inch this afternoon left with anything other than a sense of Tommy Hynes and Gavin Buggy missing an opportunity to pull off a surprise win over hot favourites Eoin Kennedy and Carl Browne, Dublin in the M. Donnelly Senior Open Doubles quarter final tie which ended 21-10, 21-20 in favour of the Dubs.
To some extent it was a trip into the unknown for the Wexfordmen as this largely untried and untested metropolitan pairing were playing their first championship match together following Browne’s declaration for Dublin and while he and Kennedy had captured the 60×30 Nationals recently, their ability to perform over the championship distance had yet to be determined. For Hynes and Buggy it may well have been a last chance saloon as more established partnerships continue to win and younger hungrier opponents arrive on the scene but they showed for a while again today that when they are on song and fully committed they are capable of matching the best for long periods of the match. Sadly for them periodic brilliance is no longer enough to win at this level.
Wexford needed a big start in this match if they were to shake up the Dubs but it was Kennedy and Browne who streaked ahead after Buggy had stuck one in the right hand corner for the opening score. Six points were reeled off in worrying fashion as Kennedy’s toss off the right wall caused all sorts of problems for the Wexford players. That ball was angled to miss Buggy on its way to Hynes and it forced the latter into a defensive return every time. The brilliant Kennedy had the time to pick his spot for the third shot of the rally and invariably this turned out to be a carbon copy of the serve as he continued to keep Hynes at the back of the court. Browne was also cleaning up around the shortline and in those early stages any questions as to the ability of the Dubliners to work well together were answered emphatically.
6-1 soon became 9-4 and when the gap widened to 16-6 the first game was effectively over as a contest. Hynes and Buggy did manage to reduce the deficit to 10-16 but two missed kills cost them dear and in highly impressive manner Kennedy and Browne got the next five points to close out the game with the minimum of fuss.
For much of that first game Kennedy and Browne had set the pace and called the shots but a more focused and determined Hynes and Buggy emerged for the second. At 6-3 in front after being 0-2 behind things were looking good but then each of the Slaneysiders missed on their own serve and suddenly that 6-3 lead was turned into an 6-8 deficit. During this period Kennedy was simply sublime as he responded to the challenge with a series of terrific killshots. Then suddenly the game turned on its head as everything clicked into place for Hynes and Buggy. At last we saw what they were capable of as Hynes got his rader sorted and Buggy, perhaps for the first time in the match, began to get the better of Browne on that right hand side. Now it was the Wexfordmen who were winning the long rallies and slowly the scoreboard tilted in their favour. At 15-9 ahead they were the dominant force and Wexford supporters roared their approval as handball of the highest calibre was being played by the purple and gold clad players. Then another missed kill by Hynes proved costly as the loss of the hand gave much needed respite to the besieged Dubliners. Browne came up with a couple of brilliant right corner kills and Kennedy passed for a few more scores and before we knew it the favourites were back in front by 19-15. Those ten points on the trot were to prove so costly to Wexford and while they came back from 16-20 down to level at 20 all, it was to be the steadier Kennedy and Browne who prevailed in a frenetic finish.
In summary, when the Wexford duo were good they were very good, but while Buggy gave as good as he got throughout, Hynes mixed the awesome with the less so! Some of Hynes’s handball was so good it was from another planet but he missed kills today when he didn’t need to go for them and untimely this proved too costly at this level. The brilliant St. Mary’s player is renowned for his attacking flair and that is part of the attraction that is Tommy Hynes. but senior handball has changed to a more safety conscious long game that plainly does not suit those who like to risk a winner.
Eoin Kennedy and Carl Browne looked very good today and in the opinion of this writer will be crowned champions later this year. That is the measure of the opposition Tommy Hynes and Gavin Buggy faced today and it is those players whom they dominated for long periods of the second game. The third would have been very interesting as Wexford had the momentum but without the type of consistency required at this level to see out that second game, we never got to find out what would have happened.