Andrew Dowling and Peter Whelan qualified for the All-Ireland Junior B handball final by defeating Darren Beattie and Cathal Conneely of Roscommon in a three game thriller. The match played in Curraghboy, Roscommon proved a tense affair with both pairs enjoying periods of dominance at different stages throughout the proceedings.
The first game saw the Laois handballers make an impressive start building up a seemingly unassailable 20-6 lead against a nervous looking Roscommon pair. Inexplicitly, Beattie and Conneely then staged a remarkable comeback winning the next 13 aces to make the score 20-19 and taking them to within two aces of completing an incredible turnaround. With enormous pressure now very much on the Laois pair they thankfully kept their composure and eked out the remaining ace needed to pip the Roscommon pair for the first game on a score-line of 21-19.
The second game saw the Laois pair make a slow start falling 6-15 behind. With Beattie playing some particularly impressive kill and passing shots the Laois pair were now in real trouble. Despite their best efforts to rally again, Dowling and Whelan were unable to overturn the deficit losing the second game on a score-line of 16-21.
In the deciding game, the Laois pair finally began to replicate the quality of handball that had helped them capture the Leinster title three weeks previous. The large travelling support now sensed victory and Dowling and Whelan did not disappoint by overpowering the faltering Roscommon handballers with an array of impressive winners. Unlike the first game, there was no way back for the Roscommon handballers and the Laois duo booked their place in the All-Ireland final by taking the decider 21-9.
Juvenile Handball News
The Leinster U-12 and U-13 team of six first round game between Laois and Wexford takes place in Monavea on Wednesday, 27th March at 7.30pm. The Laois squad for the fixture comprises of Matt Kelly, Conor Mulhall, Ciaran Burke, Brian Brennan (Monavea), Eoghan Doheny, Tiernach Doheny and Padraic Dunne (Cullohill).
The Laois U-14 and U-15 team face a tricky assignment in their first round clash against Kilkenny in Cullohill on Friday, 29th March at 7.30pm. The Laois squad for this fixture will be finalised later in the week.
Laois Handball would like to congratulate Niamh Dunne of the Cullohill Handball Club on reaching the girls U-17 All-Ireland final. Niamh defeated a very strong opponent in Aoife Quinn of Sligo in the semi-final. We wish Niamh the very best of luck in her final against Anna Penderville of Kerry and hope that she can bring an All-Ireland title back to the county.