“I forgot how hard the ball was on the hands!”
Galmoy man Billy Drennan joked when asked how his training was going ahead of this Sunday’s delayed 2020 All-Ireland 4-Wall Minor Final against the reigning champion Eoghan McGinnity (Monaghan).
He admits that he hasn’t had as much handball under his belt than he would have liked, but much of that is down to a hectic Hurling schedule. His Club has an U20 County Championship QF this Saturday, whilst he has College and County Hurling commitments to factor in to a busy weekly schedule.
Drennan’s Handball talent is well known after coming through the juvenile ranks with regular success, including last years Minor Softball title.
“Believe it or not 1-Wall is probably my favourite of all the Handball codes. I put in a few good performances up at the Wallball Nationals over the years, and I think it suits my style.”
That style is what is most fascinating to watch on the court. Drennan moves gracefully around the court, picking off his opponents with unexpected shot selections, and mesmerising soft “paddle” kills off either hand.
When asked what his future aspirations were on the court, Billy acknowledged his time could be limited due to the Hurling, but that he would like to test himself against the Handball Seniors.
“A few years back I won the Kingscourt Shootout, which was a one-day, timed game event for Junior & Intermediate adults. Being honest I didn’t expect to win that as I was still very young, but that gave me great confidence in my game. I would be intrigued to see how I fare against the Seniors so that is something I would definitely like to try at some stage.”
Handball aside however, Drennan is also going about his business with aplomb on the Hurling field, finishing the 2019 All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship as top scorer with 2-66.
The Hurling – Handball link is strong in Kilkenny, the cross over in skills evident between the codes. The last two Kilkenny winners of the All-Ireland Minor 4-Wall title has been Richie Hogan (2006) and DJ Carey (1988 & 1989). Both of whom have went on to fill their trophy cabinets with All-Ireland title & All-Stars with Kilkenny Senior Hurlers.
“I actually wasn’t of that. No pressure so!” quipped Drennan.
“I love the Handball, especially in the winter time. It keeps me active and fit, and I have made so many friends over the years through handball.”
“And I believe it aids my Hurling development too. I always remember one time seeing Richie (Hogan) lose his hurl during a match, but he was able to hand pass the sliothar nearly 30 yards across the field straight to a team mate. That’s Handball qualities coming through and I feel the same competence in my own game too.”
Drennan admits he has a tough challenge ahead of him on Sunday however.
“Eoghan is a quality player, very skilful. But hopefully I pick the right shots at the right times, and keep chipping away. I am looking forward to it anyway!”
Sun 5th Dec @ Kingscourt HC, Cavan, from 11am
- U21: Louth (Ben Devlin) v Cork (Cian O’Driscoll)
- Ladies Minor: Kilkenny (Noelle Dowling) v Tyrone (Mairead Fox)
- Mens Minor: Kilkenny (Billy Drennan) v Monaghan (Eoghan McGinnity)
- Ladies Senior: Limerick (Martina McMahon) v Cork (Catriona Casey)
Watch all matches on GAA Handball's FREE Live Facebook Stream.