The 2019 Juvenile Nationals Finals were held in Tyrone and Monaghan venues last weekend and although Roscommon had no outright success there were a number of very impressive performances writes Aengus Cunningham.
The Boys 15 & under event featured training partners Philip Halliday and Rory Carthy both from St. Coman’s. Philip’s all-out aggressive ‘kill or be killed’ style led to two of the most entertaining matches of the whole weekend.
In his last 16 match against Kilkenny’s talented Harry Delaney in Greencastle, Co. Tyrone Philip started slowly going 2-9 down.
After finally finding his rhythm and getting back to 9-10, he went 10-14 down, but a terrific late burst of kills helped him pip the Noresider 15-14.
In the second, Philip looked booked for an easy runout as he went 8-0 up. However, a clever change of pace by Delaney, slowing down the serve, immediately bore results and helped him quickly overturn the defecit and take a 15-10 win.
The tie-breaker was back and forth until Delaney served for the match at 10-8. True to form Philip killed four in a row, including a spectacular left corner kill on the fly to win a brilliant match 15-14, 10-15, 11-10.
In the quarter-final against local lad Jack Darcy in Beragh, Co.Tyrone. Darcy was in complete control in the first as Philip had trouble holding his feet and the 15-6 score was a fair reflection of what had transpired.
However, the second saw why Philip is such an entertaining player to watch, as he killed ball after ball in front of a stunned local crowd, taking it 15-8.
Unfortunately, a poor start to the tie-breaker put paid to Philip’s hopes of advancement, as he went 0-8 down, but he still finished very strongly before going down 6-15, 15-8, 5-11.
Rory Carthy was a mere 8 days overage for the 13&under but his performances in the older 15&under grade showed the big improvements that have occurred in his game since he upped his training regime.
Facing the near two years older and eventual winner Mark Doyle of Wexford in the last 16 match, the Wexford lad was expected to blow through Rory with the minimum of fuss, but was made work for evey ace before eventually winning 15-6, 15-7.
Having lost his first match, Rory then qualified for the separate Plate 15&under competition. In his quarter-final he had a very impressive win over Tyrone’s Ciaran McNally 21-6, which set him up for an encounter with Kilkenny’s Harry Delaney, who qualified for the Plate after his loss to Philip Halliday.
Another marathon match followed, with Rory playing some wonderful handball and looking the more likely victor over his experienced foe, but a little bit of inexperience at the very end saw him lose out 17-21.
Rory’s younger brother Eoghan competed in the 13&under ‘B’ competition, after winning his first match against Westmeath’s Gareth Mullaniff 21-6, he was beaten by Galway’s older Ewan Hynes 21-15 but showed tremendous improvement and will be one to watch out for in the near future.
The third Carthy on show was Seamie, who competed in the fun event for 11&under. As part of a group of four, Seamie played each of the other players and won two out of his three matches.
Between illness and football, recently crowned U15 All-Ireland champion Carragh Kennedy had poor preparation for the Nationals and paid for it.
Although she played quite well she lost her last 16 match of the 15&under grade against Cork’s Cliona Dunning in a tie-breaker.
Carragh’s younger sister Shona competed in the Girls 13&Under ‘B’ grade and after losing her first match to Kilkenny’s Aine Sharkey, she qualified for the Plate competition where she played her doubles partner Ella Bailey who had lost her first match to Monaghan’s Emily McGinnity, sister of recently crowned All-Ireland champion Eoghan.
Shona won their match, but lost out in her Plate final to Orla Brophy of Laois.