O'Toole Family Celebrate Double All Ireland Success with Whelan and Byrne

Written by Antoin Ó Braoin, Rúnaí Contae
It turned out to be a very special weekend indeed for the O’Toole family from Coolgreany with brother and sister Darren and Tanya achieving the rare feat of winning All Ireland junior doubles titles on the same day and at the same venue. Historians may yet declare their achievement

Junior doubles champions Darren O'Toole and Malachy Whelan, Wexford with runners up John Ferncombe and Kevin Dempsey, Tipperary
Junior doubles champions Darren O’Toole and Malachy Whelan, Wexford with runners up John Ferncombe and Kevin Dempsey, Tipperary

to be unique but that will not be concerning them this evening as celebrations go on at the north Wexford village and club. Malachy Whelan from Castlebridge and Coolgreaney player Una Byrne shared in the success on a brilliant day for Coolgreaney, Castlebridge and Wexford handball at Kilfane, Co. Kilkenny on Saturday.
Darren and Malachy had been very impressive throughout a long and difficult junior doubles campaign and they began the final against John Ferncombe and Kevin Dempsey, Tipperary in explosive manner winning the first game by 21-9. The power and precision of O’Toole allied to the strategic placing of the ball by the wily Whelan had the premier county players all over the place and when they opened up a 9-1 lead in the second they looked on the way to a comfortable victory. Ferncombe though had other ideas and when he changed his serve to a more effective cross court shot the chances began to appear. Soon they were back on level terms and from there to the finish it was all Tipperary as they levelled the match with a 21-12 win.
The third saw Wexford again hit the front in the early stages but after they had built a lead of 9-2 they appeared to lose their way yet again. Ferncombe and Dempsey rallied to level at 16 all but just when it mattered most it was O’Toole and Whelan who reacted best to the challenge. It is at times like this that you find out if your physical training and mental preparation has been sufficient and backboned by a tough Leinster and county campaign the Wexford players were in no mood to be turned over. From there to the finish it was they who bossed this match and they who decided where the winners medals were going. They shut up shop and refused to concede another point while at the same time grinding out the five points required for victory. It was an impressive ending to a brilliant campaign for O’Toole and Whelan and while the step up to intermediate will be challenging, it is one they will relish.
Champions all! Darren O'Toole, Tanya O'Toole, Club Secretary Patsy Murray, Una Byrne and Malachy Whelan
Champions all! Darren O’Toole, Tanya O’Toole, Club Secretary Patsy Murray, Una Byrne and Malachy Whelan

Tanya O’Toole and Una Byrne turned in a monumental performance to overcome a  21-7 walloping in the first game of the women’s junior doubles final against Cathy Foley and Clodagh Neville, Limerick before going on to record a famous victory on a scoreline of 7-21, 21-15, 21-9.
A nightmare scenario unfolded in that opening game at Kilfane as the Wexford girls were slow into their stride and paid the ultimate price of a heavy defeat. To their credit however they did not let that derail their challenge in the slightest and they came out for the second determined to atone. Throughout a tough and close game they matched their opponents point for point before going on to win 21-15 and level the tie at one game apiece.
The third saw O’Toole and Byrne at their glorious best as they ran their opponents ragged by setting a pace Foley and Neville simply could not match. Great serving was matched by terrific play when rallies were required. Long serving Club Secretary Patsy Murray summed up the achievement as follows “I have been involved with the club since 1975 and this was the best day I have ever experienced”. Considering the success that has come to this club over a long number of years that puts this historic day in perfect perspective.