Won­der­ful re­sults fo

Medals for twelve of the 21 par­tic­i­pants

New Ross Standard - - SPORT -

THE 2018 world hand­ball cham­pi­onships were held in Minneapolis, Min­nesota, last month with 761 com­peti­tors from ten dif­fer­ent coun­ties all hop­ing to get their hands on a pres­ti­gious ti­tle.

The Univer­sity of Min­nesota was the host venue, boast­ing twelve spec­tac­u­lar 40 x 20 courts that play prob­a­bly faster than any other Amer­i­can venue, and four pur­pose-built wall ball courts.

The tour­na­ment was split into two sec­tions, with the one wall el­e­ment tak­ing place in the open­ing five days, and this is where Josh Ka­vanagh and Mark Doyle com­bined to pick up their first world gold medals.

Ka­vanagh (St. Joseph’s) and Doyle (Tagh­mon) faced off against Mikie Kelly (Gal­way) and Rory Grace (Tip­per­ary). With the tal­ent that was on the court, this was al­ways go­ing to be a close bat­tle, but the Wex­ford boys have faced into world fi­nals to­gether be­fore and their close un­der­stand­ing of each other’s game took them over the fin­ish line on a score­line of 21-16, 21-14.

Mark Doyle had ear­lier in the morn­ing faced off against Mikie Kelly in the 15 and un­der one wall sin­gles fi­nal. Th­ese boys are no strangers to each other, hav­ing com­peted at na­tional level many times be­fore, and Mark cer­tainly was fac­ing a bat­tle hav­ing never been able to claim vic­tory over Mikie be­fore.

Hav­ing lost the first game 21-14, Mark seemed to re­lax and found his shots, tak­ing Mikie score for score only to lose out 21-19.

Joshua Roche (Castle­bridge) had a fan­tas­tic run in the boys’ eleven and un­der sin­gles and for his re­ward booked his place in the world fi­nal. This was Joshua’s big­gest hand­ball chal­lenge to date when faced off against Gavin Kelly (Gal­way, younger brother to Mikie) who is no stranger to com­pet­ing at the high­est level.

Ex­pe­ri­ence was the key to this fi­nal, although Joshua’s never-say-die at­ti­tude was on dis­play. Gavin just found the killer shots at the right time to clinch the ti­tle 21-16, 21-2.

To round off the Ju­ve­nile wall ball cam­paign, Conor Doyle (Tagh­mon) teamed up with Cian Dun­ning (Cork) to com­pete in the boys’ Un­der-11 dou­bles. Hav­ing com­peted in a round robin for­mat, the Wex­ford/Cork pair­ing se­cured a bronze medal and the ex­pe­ri­ence gained will stand to them at a later stage.

Keep­ing the flag fly­ing for the adult wall ball hand­ballers, Michael Ros­siter (Bal­ly­hogue) took a sil­ver medal in Over60 men’s sin­gles, hav­ing come up against a tough op­po­nent in Jay Spooner from Amer­ica.

This was Michael’s first-ever wall ball tour­na­ment and he cer­tainly didn’t let him­self down, only los­ing in the fi­nal 21-16, 21-17.

Seán Nolan (Kilmyshall) and John Roche (Castle­bridge) took bronze in the Masters dou­bles, round­ing off a very suc­cess­ful world wall ball championship for Wex­ford be­fore the fo­cus then switched to the 40 x 20 world championship.

Josh Ka­vanagh was a mem­ber of the of­fi­cial Ir­ish team, and for the sec­ond world championship in a row the Ka­vanagh house­hold had rea­son to cel­e­brate. This time they re­lied on Josh to bring home the medals, and he did this in style.

Three times he went to the well in the Univer­sity of Min­nesota and came away with world ti­tles at 15 and un­der one wall Dou­bles and 15 and un­der 40 x 20 sin­gles and dou­bles.

As the Team Ire­land rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the age group, it was cer­tainly a prom­i­nent show­ing and one GAA Hand­ball will be ex­tremely happy with.

It was the 40 x 20 where he ex­celled, sweep­ing the boards at 15 and un­der sin­gles and dou­bles and be­ing the stand-out player in the grade.

He eas­ily won the dou­bles with his long-stand­ing part­ner Mark Doyle, ac­count­ing for Cough­lan and Grace on a 21-7, 21-8 score­line to stamp them­selves as the best pair in Ire­land at their age group by some con­sid­er­able dis­tance.

Josh pro­duced quite a bril­liant dis­play in the sin­gles fi­nal against Mikie Kelly (Gal­way) when he came from 3-12 and 7-16 be­hind in the open­ing game to over­whelm his Con­nacht op­po­nent and claim over­all hon­ours.

In the process he be­came only the sec­ond-ever Wex­ford player af­ter his brother, Daniel, to claim a Ju­ve­nile sin­gles world ti­tle. Both Josh and Mark look set to dom­i­nate the land­scape of Mi­nor hand­ball in Ire­land over the next few years.

Char­lie and Joshua Roche (Castle­bridge) col­lected sil­ver medals in the boys’ eleven and un­der dou­bles grade. Con­sid­er­ing that Char­lie at only seven years of age was the youngest com­peti­tor at the worlds, this sil­ver medal was a mas­sive achieve­ment. Th­ese young broth­ers have gained much ex­pe­ri­ence on the big­gest of stages, and the seed of world hand­ball is sown.

Mar­guerite Gore has played and been a ser­vant to hand­ball in Wex­ford for a cou­ple of decades but this was her first time to travel over the water to play. She wasn’t dis­ap­pointed and cer­tainly had a tour­na­ment to re­mem­ber.

The St. Mary’s player be­came the first Wex­ford wo­man to win a world ti­tle since women’s grades were in­tro­duced back in Kelowna, Canada, in 1986, when she de­feated Aish­ling Mullen (Gal­way) 21-20, 21-20 in a nail-bit­ing ‘C’ sin­gles fi­nal and this af­ter she had, only one hour ear­lier, lost the 35 and over sin­gles fi­nal af­ter a gru­elling bat­tle last­ing over two hours to Jean Kast­ner (U.S.A.) 21-20, 11-21, 11-5.

That un­lucky de­feat only served to spur her on in the ‘C’ fi­nal how­ever and, although feel­ing the strain of repet­i­tive ac­tion over a num­ber of days and a shoul­der in­jury picked up in her first fi­nal, she re­mark­ably rose to the huge chal­lenge to record an his­toric vic­tory, bring­ing a gold and sil­ver medal back to Wex­ford.

A spe­cial men­tion and thanks must go to Mar­guerite’s son, Pádraic (act­ing coach), who ac­com­pa­nied her on this mem­o­rable trip as his help was out­stand­ing.

Galen Rior­dan (Bal­ly­hogue) had been hav­ing a sea­son for the ages so far in 2018, and he showed that his ap­petite for suc­cess had not dwin­dled over the sum­mer months as he col­lected gold medals at the 23 and un­der grade, win­ning both the sin­gles and dou­bles.

Af­ter wins over Ryan Lopez (U.S.A.) and Max Lang­mack (U.S.A.), he came up against Gab­hain McCrys­tal from Ty­rone in the fi­nal. The open­ing set proved cru­cial as Rior­dan snatched a 21-20 win, and from there his fit­ness and mo­men­tum took him quickly home 21-7 in the sec­ond set.

Galen, who is a U.C.D. grad­u­ate, joined forces with his col­lege part­ner, Brian Ma­hon from Kilkenny, to take the dou­bles crown. The Wex­ford-Kilkenny duo were seeded num­ber two and it was no sur­prise to see them up against num­ber one seeds Michael Hedi­gan and Daniel Reli­han (Cork) in the fi­nal.

This went the dis­tance as the win­ners took the first set 21-14, but the sec­ond set went to the Rebel county men 21-20.

The Slaney-Nore­side com­bi­na­tion got home in the third set 11-4. Galen has had an in­cred­i­ble sea­son, with his list of hon­ours in­clud­ing a first-ever county 40 x 20 Se­nior sin­gles, an All-Ire­land Ju­nior 40 x 20 sin­gles, the men’s ‘A’ Ir­ish Na­tion­als ti­tle, and also the Golden Gloves com­pe­ti­tion in Belfast ear­lier in the sea­son.

Adam Walsh be­came the sec­ond Wex­ford man in the his­tory of the world championship to win the mine­field that is the 40 x 20 ‘C’ sin­gles. A stacked field of 64 set out at the Univer­sity of Min­nesota and Life­time Fit­ness Tar­get Cen­tre, and the St. Joseph’s man had far too many punches for the whole field as he swept aside all chal­lengers over the course of the gru­elling four days of com­pe­ti­tion.

Adam had a se­ries of eye-catch­ing wins all week, none more so than his 2-0 up­set of num­ber one seed Shane Mur­phy (Lim­er­ick). He was par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive in the fi­nal as he beat M 21-16, 21-6.

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Bobby Doyle (Ta Ho­ran (Cool­gre­any) to play in wall ball a very tal­ented Wexf tremely un­lucky to los stages in both codes pe­t­i­tive age group (b

Bobby, Conor a fam­i­lies should be achieve­ments. The bo

Galen Rior­dan of Bal­ly­hogue with his 23 and un­der gold medals.

Adam Walsh of St. Joseph’s, the sec­ond Wex­ford­man to win the ‘C’ sin­gles ti­tle.

Mar­guerite Gore, w first trip to the world

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