Will a new name be added to the historic Willie Lyng Memorial Cup

Championship preview with AOB

William Lyng Memorial Cup
William Lyng Memorial Cup

The William Lyng Memorial Perpetual Cup was first presented back in 1970 to the winners of the National League (won by Wexford on that occasion) and honoured the memory of one of six brothers from Ballyanne, born scarcely a underhand stroke away from the local handball club. The most famous of the brothers was Dick and it was fitting that he should play on that winning team in 1970 as indeed he did on subsequent occasions. After the National League had been discontinued in the early 1980s the cup made its way back to Wexford from Croke Park and a decision was made to present it to the winner of the county softball (60×30) senior singles championship. Ned Buggy became the first winner back in 1988 and defended it successfully until 1992, and since then the cup has passed through the hands of Brian Gilhooley (1993 and 1996), Pat Cleary (1994), John Fleming (1995), Tommy Hynes (1997, 2001-3, 2007, 2013-2016), Barry Goff (1998, 2000, 2004-6, 2010-12, 2017), Billy Bourke (1999),  Colin Keeling (2008) and Gavin Buggy (2009).

Significantly and as a pointer to their incredible talents and longevity, Tommy Hynes and Barry Goff have shared the last eight titles between them, 21 and 20 years respectively after their initial success. And while Goff had his defense of the title he won last year derailed by injury a while ago, Hynes is in the shape of his life and getting better with age.

On Tuesday evening next at Castlebridge alley he will don his beloved St. Mary’s colours yet again in a county senior open singles final but this time, instead of facing off against an established senior player he will be challenged by the up and coming Keith Armstrong from Kilmyshall. The All Ireland minor doubles champion from 2015 is making steady progress and while still an intermediate player, he does represent the next generation of talented Wexford handballers who are pushing for senior status. At this juncture it is worth remembering that Barry Goff was county senior singles champion at 19, Brian Gilhooley won his first at 21 and Tommy Hynes himself got his name on that decorated list at the age of 22.  Armstrong is 20 and the clear inference from those earlier stats is that age is not a barrier if you are good enough.

That said Hynes will go down as one of the greatest players in the history of Wexford Handball and playing as well ever he will be terribly difficult to topple. Armstrong will be encouraged that he took the Wexford town man to a deciding game in the earlier league stages as well as recording a victory over him in the 2016 championships but other than put Hynes on his guard those victories may not count for much on Tuesday.

The final will be streamed live on the Wexford GAA Handball Facebook page.