James Stanners wins prestigious Golden Gloves event in Belfast
James Stanners, St. Martins struck another blow for Wexford GAA Handball when he won the masters B singles grade at the Golden Gloves tournament in Belfast last weekend. A number of Wexford handballers made the trip north for this prestigious annual ranking event and three of them, the aforementioned James Stanners, his brother David and John Roche, Castlebridge took part in the over 40 B singles grade. Despite their previous achievements being disregarded by the local seeding committee, and having difficult draws as a result, all three performed with distinction in what was a very competitive grade.
Seeded number 7 in the 14 man field, (David Stanners was ranked at 8 and John Roche inexplicably at 13, despite reaching the latter stages of the All Ireland championship on several occasions), James Stanners began his campaign with a 15-7, 15-12 over Keith Donnellan, Galway. He then faced the hotly fancied number 2 seed Barry McCoy, Down in round two but after they had shared the opening two games 15-12, 12-15 it was the St. Martins man who stormed through the tie break to record an 11-0 victory and qualify for the semi finals.
Meanwhile the other two Wexford challengers were experiencing contrasting fortunes. David Stanners was out, defeated by top seed Paddy Nichol, Antrim, after beating Billy Caddell, Louth in his opening match, while John Roche had made his way to a semi final clash with the aforementioned Paddy Nichol, after numbering the second 2 seed Paul Burns, Down, amongst his victims in the first two rounds.
Unfortunately however those earlier matches against tough opposition were to take their toll on Roche as he fell to Nichol in the first semi final but Wexford hopes were kept alive when James Stanners overcame the reigning champion Willie Cahill, Tipperary, 15-10, 15-8 to qualify for a tilt at the Ulster favourite.
The final against Nichol was expected to be the toughest test of all for James Stanners, but having seen his two fellow countymen fall he was in no mood to facilitate a hat trick of wins for the Northerner. What followed was an exhibition of fitness and physicality as the Wexfordman put aside all notions of fatigue to sweep aside his opponent on a hugely impressive scoreline of 15-5, 15-3.
It was a massive and richly deserved win for a player who leaves no stone upturned in his constant quest for victory.