Terrific action in Wexford Wall Ball championships
Written by Antoin Ó Braoin, Rúnaí Contae
The 2nd Annual Wexford Wall Ball Adult singles championships provided plenty of action at St. Josephs Community Centre, Wexford this morning as players in three grades battled for the right to be called county champions.
Keith Armstrong, Kilmyshall and Darren O’Toole, Coolgreany were the standout players in the ‘B’ grade and both came through the field to qualify for the final.
It was to be an intriguing clash as the otherwise very experienced O’Toole was playing in his first ever Wall Ball competition while the young Armstrong who only celebrated his 17th birthday ten days ago was already a Wall Ball juvenile winner at provincial and national level.
It was the much stronger O’Toole who led the way for most of this match and when he increased his advantage to 15-6 with less than ten minutes to go he appeared all set for his maiden victory at his first attempt. The rallies were long and tough and it was hard to see a way back for Armstrong as the very fit Coolgreany man kept up his relentless work rate. But the young Kilmyshall player was working hard too and as O’Toole faltered on the run in the gap began to close. A few psychologically huge rallies went the way of Armstrong and as his better serving began to pay dividends he levelled the match at 17-17 with three minutes to go. From there to the finish he pushed O’Toole’s well down to the left side on the serve and cutting off the return in great style he went on to win by 21-17.
In his semi final Keith Armstrong had declared his readiness to win this title by inflicting a 25-8 defeat on the fancied Phil Coleman, Ballymitty while Darren O’Toole had to work hard against another Ballymitty player Alan O’Neill who paid the price for a terrible start and was unable to make up the lost ground thereafter. That match finished 25-15 in favour of O’Toole.
Mick Carty, St. Josephs only got into the ‘C’ competition when his club mate PJ Lacey picked up an injury but he made the most of his good fortune to win the title in great style. His toughest match came in the semi final against the dogged James Stanners, St. Martins when he came through 16-14 after Stanners had put his hand out while serving at 14-14 with 30 seconds to go. He faced David Stanners (brother of James) in the final and while it was close enough up to the halfway point Carty then put his foot on the pedal and powered home to win 25-12.
Masters title holder Phil Coleman, Ballymitty was left to rue his decision to attempt a ‘B’ singles and Masters singles double, a feat he came very close to accomplishing last year but one which appeared out of reach this morning given the strength of the opposition this time around.
Instead it was Damien Kelly, Coolgreany who made up for several near misses in the past few years by taking the 40+ singles championship. He did lose his opening round robin match to Phil Coleman by 21-18 but reignited his title challenge when he produced a terrific performance to defeat favourite John Roche, Castlebridge next time out. The winning scoreline of 25-13 was to prove vital in deciding the championship for when Roche beat Coleman 23-11 in the last match, Kelly was declared the winner on points scored.
It was a thoroughly deserved win by a player who is enjoying a brilliant 60×30 season and his consistency today was the key element in his victory. John Roche who will partner Kelly in the upcoming All Ireland 60×30 MBD semi final and who has also qualified for the All Ireland MBS semi final did not fire on all cylinders against the aforementioned Kelly but when he found the range in his match against Coleman he looked very impressive.
All results and scores are available in the results section of the menu.