O'Toole and Whelan take Leinster Junior Doubles title
Written by Antóin Ó Braoin, Rúnaí Contae
Wexford’s domination of this year’s provincial junior grade was there for all to see at Kilmyshall this evening as Darren O’Toole and Malachy Whelan faced up to Paul Lambert and Paddy Haughton in an all-Wexford Leinster junior doubles championship final. With Paul Lambert having already taken the singles championship with a scintillating performance last week a Wexford double in this difficult grade was guaranteed and although the ‘town’ pairing burst from the blocks to open up a 9-0 lead in the first game it was the experienced partnership of O’Toole and Whelan who came away with the title on a scoreline of 21-16, 21-14.
Although Lambert and Haughton began this match is brilliant fashion it was O’Toole and Whelan who played the more attacking handball thereafter and when they took the lead for the first time at 12-11 they were never to be headed again in this match. The turning point had come when they regained the serve at 7-11 behind but a period of almost total domination saw then score seven points in a row to lead by 14-11. Thereafter the scores were tied at 14-14 and 15-15 but the shear power and accuracy of O’Toole was taking its toll and with the clever Whelan always putting the ball in difficult places it was they who pulled away to win the opener by 21-16.
The second was almost a carbon copy of the first except it was O’Toole and Whelan who were in front. They led 7-0, 10-3 and 13-6 before Lambert and Haughton clawed their way back to 13-10 and for a while a comeback looked on the cards. Lambert was again producing winners from all over the court and with Haughton getting a number of rollouts the large attendance enjoyed a prolonged period of top class junior handball played by all four players. With their advantage being eroded rally by rally though O’Toole and Whelan managed to steady the ship and from there to the finish the big Coolgreany player gave an exhibition of handball at its very best. Yes his awesome power was always evident but his movement around the court was also very good and in particular his shot selection and killing stamped him out as a player on the top of his form. With Whelan using his court craft to great effect there was little Lambert and Houghton could do to stop the tidal wave.
On this form they will be competitive with any pairing from the other provinces in the All Ireland series.