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Intriguing softball semis down for decision

Paul Fitzpatrick

An excellent day of action is in store at HQ tomorrow, with two Men's Senior Doubles semi-finals along with the Ladies Senior Doubles decider.

First on the card is a meeting between two sides with senior medals to their names. Dublin's Eoin Kennedy and Carl Browne won this title together in 2015, defeating Ciaran Neary and the late Ducksy Walsh in the final, with Kennedy having previously won it four times in five years between 2005 and 2009 with another man who learned his trade in Meath before moving to the capital, Egin Jensen, riding shotgun for those victories.

Left-hander Tommy Hynes, meanwhile, paired up with Colin Keeling for a famous Senior Doubles championship success in 2000, 10 years after he won the Minor Singles, when they beat Meath's Walter O'Connor and Tom Sheridan 21-19, 21-17 at Croke Park.

"It will be a sensation," the late Mick Dunne had written before that game, "if the Wexford men can dethrone Sheridan and O'Connor and lift the Irish Independent Cup." 

A couple of weeks earlier, the hard-hitting Hynes's doubles partner this season, Gavin Buggy, teamed up with another lefty, Barry Goff, to win the Intermediate Doubles crown against Mayo's Vinny Moran and Campbell Brennan. Eighteen years later, the Model men are back on the big stage tomorrow and gunning for a first senior final appearance together. They played well in seeing off Tipp's Ger Coonan and David Hickey last time out but will be well aware that Kennedy and Browne, who have formed a formidable partnership in recent seasons, will represent another step-up.

The second game pits left-hander Neary and 2016 All-Ireland Junior Singles champion Keith Bourke - who won that title in the colours of Dublin before transferring back to his native Kilkenny - taking on new-look Meath pairing Brian Carroll and Gary McConnell.

Carroll is the holder of seven Senior Softball Doubles medals in tandem with Tom Sheridan, who has, it appears, retired from senior play. McConnell, a former Intermediate Singles winner, has made the Senior Singles semi-final in the last two years and if the evidence of their comprehensive win over Limerick's Paudi Qiush and Eamon Davern is anything to go by, the Kells men will provide a very formidable pairing.

With Sheridan having exited stage left, breaking up the dominant partnership of the last decade, the field now seems wide open and a novel final cannot be ruled out.

Click here for the ladies Senior Singles final preview.

Saturday 13th October 2018, Croke Park HC, Dublin, 2pm

Men’s Senior Doubles – SF 1

Dublin (Eoin Kennedy/Carl Browne) v Wexford (Gavin Buggy/Tommy Hynes)

Ladies Senior Doubles – Final

Cork (Catriona Casey/Aishling O’Keeffe) v Kilkenny (Ciara Mahon/Aoife Holden)

Men’s Senior Doubles – SF 2

Kilkenny (Ciaran Neary/Keith Bourke) v Meath (Brian Carroll/Gary McConnell)