Golden Gloves handball bounces back at St Paul's
The ranking Golden Gloves tournament, organised for many years by the St Paul's Club in Belfast but suspended last season, is back on again this year.
The popular event, won by many players from all over Ireland down the years, will be played, as usual, over the Halloween weekend of October 28 and 29.
This is welcome news for the many players who supported the event in the past and should, again, attract a big entry in both the men's and women's open competitions.
Because of the re-introduction of the tournament, the Irish Nationals 40x20 Championships have been moved back to November 25 and 26, in Mayo.
As a result of the changes the All-Ireland 40x20 Inter-club semi-finals and final will be played on Saturday, December 2.
Meanwhile, top seeds Brian Carroll and Tom Sheridan, from Meath, were comfortable winners against Tipperary duo Ger Coonan & David Hickey, in the All-Ireland Softball quarter-finals, coming through in two straight games at 10 and 12.
They next meet Limerick's CJ Fitzpatrick and senior county footballer Seamus O'Carroll, who were quite impressive winners over Roscommon's Damian Martin & Rikki O'Gara, winning 21-12, 21-6, at Mullingar.
The the results in the top half of the draw went as expected, but in the bottom half the two higher seeds had to survive severe tests.
The vastly experienced Mayo duo Joe McCann and Dessie Keegan were pushed all the way before coming through 21-18, 21-19 against Kilkenny's Ciaran Neary & Nicholas Anthony.
The match of the weekend was at Garryhill where Wexford's Gavin Buggy & Daniel Kavanagh came within six points of defeating the 2015 champions Eoin Kennedy & Carl Browne from Dublin.
The latter pair were runners-up to Carroll and Sheridan last season and seeded second this time around but they had to survive the trauma of a shootout before edging into the semi-finals on September 23.
Seasoned Buggy and youthful Kavanagh started brightly by winning the first game 21-15 and went within two aces of clinching their place in the semi-finals.
However, Kennedy and Browne finished strongly to force a tie-breaker at 21-19.
That third clash was a cracker, as well, but the favourites survived to fight another day, by winning the hard fought shootout 21-15.
“I did expect a hard fought game with Gavin and Daniel, as they are a good combination of youth and experience, and we got just that.
“It's good to get into the semi-finals, again, and get back to Croke Park.
“We won't get anything easy then, either, as we face old rivals Dessie Keegan and Joe McCann, two players who have an awful lot of experience behind them,” says Kennedy.
MyClubShop All-Ireland Softball Doubles
Men's Quarter-finals: At Mullingar - Meath (Brian Carroll/Tom Sheridan) dft Tipperary (Ger Coonan/David Hickey) 21-10, 21-12.
At Crinkle - Limerick (CJ Fitzpatrick/Seamus O'Carroll) dft Roscommon (Rikki O'Gara/Damien Martin) 21-12, 21-6.
At Mullingar - Mayo (Joe McCann/Dessie Keegan) dft Kilkenny (Ciaran Neary/Nicholas Anthony) 21-18, 21-19.
At Garryhill - Dublin (Eoin Kennedy/Carl Browne) dft Wexford (Gavin Buggy/Daniel Kavanagh) 15-21, 21-19, 21-15.
Women's Semi-final: C Mahon & A Holden (Kilkenny) w.o P Gallagher & C McManamon (Mayo).