A spirited performance but Roche and Kelly fall to Sligo in MBD

Written by Antoin Ó Braoin , Rúnai Contae

Martin Cooney and Shane Bruen, Sligo winners of the All Ireland MBD title with Wexford's Damien Kelly and John Roche
Martin Cooney and Shane Bruen, Sligo winners of the All Ireland MBD title with Wexford’s Damien Kelly and John Roche

John Roche and Damien Kelly, Wexford began the GAA Handball All Ireland 60×30 Masters B Doubles final against Shane Bruen and Martin Cooney, Sligo in great style at Crinkle, Co. Offaly yesterday and at 10-6 up in the opening game they were giving as good as they got against the hot favourites from the West.
Then the wheels came off in dramatic fashion as Cooney and Bruen upped their game to score 11 points in their two service games to turn the tie on its head. During that period there was little Roche and Kelly could do as Cooney ‘killed’ for sport and the very quick Bruen mopped up everything on the inside. But then just as quickly the tide turned again and the Wexford boys regained their composure to clock up seven unanswered points for an 18-17 lead. Wexford were now in the ascendancy but when Kelly missed a difficult back wall return in the left corner Cooney and Bruen were back in to serve with fatal consequences for Wexford. Four quick points followed for the relieved Sligo men and Roche and Kelly were left to rue the opportunity of a first game boost that would have been no more than they deserved on the day. The second was competitive up to the halfway point when it stood 11-9 to Sligo but from there to the finish it was all one way traffic as Cooney and Bruen went right away to win 21-10. Its been a fine season for both Roche and Kelly and while defeat was their lot on this occasion they would be the first to concede they were beaten by a superior force on the day.
For Roche in particular the loss of All Ireland finals on successive weekend’s will tough to take, but he will return a stronger player as a result. His performances throughout these championships have been very good, in other years good enough to win either, or perhaps even both, of these titles.