County Wexford will host its biggest ever handball tournament this weekend as the Irish Nationals will take place in venues all over the county from two o’clock next Friday afternoon in what promises to be an amazing time for lovers of the beautiful game in the county and country.
A huge entry of players from the four provinces of the country will be involved next weekend and the television cameras will be in tow to cover the action as it happens.
The action and qualifying rounds for the Nationals got underway last weekend with some Wexford players involved in the action. Gavin Buggy, who is the highest ranked Wexford player involved, has qualified for the quarter finals of the Men’s Open singles after he defeated Colm Jordan from Cork in a very tough game. However, the home support of Wexford will have their hero in action next Friday afternoon in St Joseph’s after he finally got by the Cork man on a 15-21,21-5,11-3 score line. Gavin is expected to play Ricky McCann from Antrim next weekend and it will be a tough quarter final for the Model county man. The favourite for the Men’s Open singles will be Charlie Shanks from Armagh after Paul Brady from Cavan was forced to withdraw after suffering a serious finger injury. However, there will be a host of contenders for the Men’s Open singles with Robbie McCarthy (Westmeath), Brian Carroll (Meath) and Michael Gregan (Wicklow) all big players who will show their skills on the courts.
Tommy Hardy and Seán Flood both lost out in the Men’s challenger singles event last weekend, Hardy was agonisingly beaten by Brian O’Sullivan (Kerry) on a 21-15, 17-21, 11-4 score line, while Seán Flood was beaten 21-9, 21-18 by John Fitzgerald from Kilkenny.
Billy Rossiter bowed out of the Golden Masters B singles also last weekend losing out on a 21-14,21-17 score line to Pat Funchion from Kilkenny.
This will be the biggest ever event to be hosted in county Wexford in handball and marks a unique chance for the county to promote the game. With huge numbers of players travelling to the county for the weekend, it will give the younger players of the county a great chance to see some of the masters of the game in action.
A great thing about these championships is that every 40 x 20 alley in the county will be in use in the championships, so no matter what part of the county you’re in next weekend is a great time for handball fans.
The top ladies of the game will also be in town next weekend and its look like being a battle between Fiona Shannon (Antrim) and newly crowned All Ireland champion Maria Daly from Kerry. Some of the Wexford players who will be in the shake up for honours will include Paul Lambert and Peter Hughes in Men’s B singles, while Tony Breen and Ned Buggy will be two sharpshooters also in the reckoning in their respective grades.
All handball supporters and fans are asked to keep an eye on the Wexford GAA website and www.gaahandball.ie for up to date fixtures during the week while South East Radio will also have extensive coverage of the championships during the week in the build up to the finals that will take place in St Joseph’s handball centre in Wexford town next Saturday evening