Roche Finishes Powerfully To Take Leinster Master's B Singles Title

Written by Antoin Ó Braoin

John Roche, Wexford and Billy O'Keeffe, Kilkenny following the Leinster MBS final
John Roche, Wexford  and Billy O’Keeffe, Kilkenny following the Leinster MBS final at Garryhill

John Roche maintained his rich vein of form in this year’s 60×30 campaign when he captured the Leinster Masters B Singles title at a sweltering Garryhill on Wednesday evening last. The Wexfordman may have been a slight underdog going into the tie but his form in the earlier rounds of this provincial championship as well as in the county championships saw him enter the court in a good frame of mind.
And it was he who made the break around the middle third of that opening game when after exchanging point for point for a while he pulled away to set up the win with a 16-11 lead which he later extended to 21-12. The second game was a different matter as O’Keeffe got his nose in front early on and while the tie was finely balanced throughout it was the Noresider who reached ‘game ball’ first. Roche was back on 16 at that point and though he fought back to 20-20 and had two hands to win it, his luck finally ran out as he lost by the minimum margin.
O’Keeffe went ahead 3-0 and 6-3 in the third game but as the temperature rose further on a very warm evening at the Carlow venue it was the superior fitness and handballing ability of Roche that began to pay dividends. His overarm shots in particular were causing his opponent no end of trouble and the constant retrieving of those balls began to take their toll.  Roche tagged on 12 points without reply as a deficit of 3-6 was turned into a lead of 15-6 and there was no way back for the plucky Kilkennyman.  Roche kept on relentlessly to win it 21-10 and on this form will be a difficult opponent for anyone in the All Ireland semi final.