The alley fills with revered silence as the low hum of Armhán na BhFiann begins to reverberate around the many nooks and crannies of this great place and, in its final notes; the crowd erupts. Meath v Dublin, green v blue, Carroll & Sheridan v Browne & Kennedy, the big one!
The game starts as everyone had anticipated, fast, furious and cut throat. Meath take an early lead and seem to soar with confidence as they strike every ball with power and precision. Yet Dublin, with the fire of determination visible in their eyes, allow no room for error and demand a tight margin in the early rallies of the game.
As the game progresses, it almost does so on a point for point basis, with the sides drawing level at 5-5. However, slowly but surely, Meath start to pull away and begin their path to victory. Though each man present in the alley fought valiantly for every single ball that crossed their paths, in game one Brian Carroll was the difference between the sides. With his fitness, skill and ability to hit the ‘bottom brick’ time after time, Carroll saw the Meath side safely through the opening number on a score of 21-16.
Trying to draw inspiration from the Tipperary minors who played before them, the Dublin duo started the second game strongly and dared to dream of a comeback that would force a third game. However, that dream never took hold as Meath again proved the stronger side with Brian Carroll once again asserting his dominance, he seemed to cover every inch of the court and chased down every single ball that came within arm’s reach. Though there was no shortage of spectacular rallies, shots and skill on both sides, Meath ultimately were stronger in every aspect of the game and were ruthless in their conviction, resulting in victory of 21-11.
The important thing to take from this game, is that these men put their bodies through an incredible amount of strain every time they step on to a court. The commitment, determination and sheer dedication that they have given to the sport of Handball is almost incomprehensible. Though this Final resulted in a victory for Meath, the real winners were the spectators who got to witness just how our sport should truly be played.