Lambert and Doyle extinguish northern lights in All Ireland semi finals

Written by Antoin Ó Braoin, Rúnaí Contae
The high standard of Wexford 60×30 handball was demonstrated very forcibly yesterday when two of the brightest northern lights were extinguished in emphatic fashion by Paul (Curley) Lambert and Robert Doyle in the GAA Handball All Ireland semi finals played at Loughmacrory, Co. Tyrone.

Paul Lambert, Wexford with Conor McElduff, Tyrone
Paul Lambert, Wexford with Conor McElduff, Tyrone

The two Wexfordmen travelled to the home venue of father and son Ulster champions Tony and Conor McElduff knowing that top class performances would be required if a places in the All Ireland final were to be secured.

Lambert was first into action against Conor McElduff in the Junior Singles match and the highly rated 2013 Tyrone Player of the Year started in whirlwind fashion in an attempt to justify the belief that this title was his for the taking. Throughout a very tactical first game he was always in front but he couldn’t shake off the persistent Lambert who finished strongly to win the game 21-19 having been 18-15 behind. The stylish and technically brilliant Wexfordman them upped his performance still more in the second to leave the shattered McElduff trailing in his wake.

The winning margin in that second game was 21-9 and Lambert, who has been one of the dominant players in this grade for the past four years was safely through to another final. On the evidence of this as well as his displays in the Leinster championship, this looks like being the year he finally makes the deserved breakthrough.
The only sour note on an otherwise great day at Loughmacrory was the disappointing display of petulance by McElduff who kicked the ball around the court a few times instead of returning it to his opponent. On one such occasion he even managed  to kick the ball out of court and into the face of a Wexford supporter who was sitting beside her 9 year old son. Unintentional yes but indicative of the enormous pressure exerted by a dominant Lambert.
Robert Doyle went into the Silver Masters B Singles tie against Tony McElduff hoping his recent recovery from injury was sufficient to carry

Tony McElduff, Tyrone alongside Robert Doyle, Wexford
Tony McElduff, Tyrone alongside Robert Doyle, Wexford

him through what was expected to be a difficult challenge. McElduff is regarded as an attacking player who knows how to end a rally but Doyle employed the perfect tactics right from the start. He decided to test the fitness of his opponent by keeping the ball ‘on the wall’ and prolonging the rallies and it worked a treat. Soon the Ulster champion was struggling with the pace and as Doyle kept his foot on the pedal the scoreboard ticked over all the way to 21-0.
The second was just a easy for the crafty Wexford player as he continued to dictate matters as he liked and while he did concede 7 points he was always bossing his game opponent.
This win confirms the Slaneysider as a serious challenger for All Ireland honours and this terrific handball person will be extremely hard to beat.
On a wonderful weekend for Wexford handball all five players in action won to qualify for the All Ireland finals in two weeks time and when Gavin Buggy and Miley Byrne (who received byes) are added to the list, it will be the biggest Wexford contingent at this stage for several years.
More difficult times lie ahead for sure.