The horseshoe pitching fraternity were treated to a feast of great games on Friday evening 25th , Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th July in Ferns, Co Wexford.
All Ireland Open Pairs
On Friday evening the Open Pairs was held and there was the biggest turnout of pitchers for many years for this one.
After some tremendous games the winners were Gerry Hyland, Goulyduff and Ciaran O’Brien, Carnew. They had a comfortable enough win in the final over John Giltrap, Woodsmen and Jimmy Lennon, Carnew.
All Ireland Club Championship
On Saturday afternoon the first up was the All Ireland Club Championship in two Divisions.
This is the one Competition that every club looks forward to and they prepare accordingly bringing out the best in the pitchers. The pitching was fsntastic throughout the Competitions and it certainly was a great advertisement for the sport.
In Division One, after some very close early rounds the semi finalists were the holders and favourites the Woodsmen, Wexford versus Innishowen, Donegal and Dorans Bridge, Wexford versus Goulyduff, Kildare.
The first semi final was even steven after the first two pair but with the Woodsmen’s last pair of Michael Redmond and Chris McDonald in great form, they ran out convincing winners over Innishowen’s Michael McLoughlin and Willie John McKinney to progress to the final.
In the second semi Goulyduff just had the edge on Dorans Bridge getting through by a few aces.
The final was great with nothing given away soft, the Woodsmen fighting tooth and nail to take their third Club title on the trot, but they were not going to get anything easy from the Goulyduff lads and they found that out during the games.
The first two pairs were ace for ace all the way, James Hosey and Pat Ward Goulyduff holding their own with John Giltrap and Tom Connors, this one just going to the Woodsmen 21:20. The second pair for Goulyduff Denis Ryan and Paddy Byrne looked like they were going to win this one over Paddy Connors and Phil Mahon but the Wexford lads just sneaked it at the finish 21:20 which left the Woodsmen two aces up going in with their last pair.
This one was tit for tat all the way to the finish with both pairs giving it everything. Jimmy Mackey and Gerry Hyland levelled the sett at nineteen all and then went on to take the last two aces to level it at 21 aces each(as Michael Redmond and Chris McDonald had two aces up coming in to this final sett).
The two teams had to play ‘three sevens’ which is three short setts of seven aces each. This can be tricky one if you dont get started early in them, you are out and that is exactly what happened. Goulyduff were slow to start, with the result the Woodsmen had won the two setts before the Kildare lads got into their stride and took the 2014 All Ireland Club title for the third consecutive year.
Woodsmen Team: Tom Connors (Captain), John Giltrap, Paddy Connors, Phil Mahon, Michael Redmond, Chris McDonald, Liam Bond, Sean Redmond.
Goulyduff Team: Sean O’Connor (Captain), James Hosey, Pat Ward, Paddy Byrne, Denis Ryan, Jimmy Mackey, Gerry Hyland, Willie Murtagh, Pat Leigh, Jim Kelly.
In Division Two of the All Ireland Club Championship the Monart team from Wexford were in tremendous pitching form and came through their games with more than a bit to spare, beating the Innishowen team in the final to take the 2014 Division 2 Club Title and gain promotion to Division One. With pitchers like Denis Larkin (Snr) and Denis Larkin (Jun), Eddie and Billy Larkin, John Joe Byrne and ‘Spike’ Owens they will be a match for anyone.