Saturday's Boy’s Minor Doubles final sees Kilkenny take on Monaghan in a novel pairing which is likely to go the distance. If the exceptional standard in the recent Minor Singles Championship is anything to go by, the four players on court today for the corresponding doubles should turn in an excellent contest.
The Ulster champions, Eoghan McGinnity and Konrad Kowal of Monaghan Harps, defeated Alan Masterson and Lorcan Conlon of Mayo on a 21-19, 21-11 scoreline in the All-Ireland semi-final while the Kilkenny duo, dual stars Jack Holden and Jack Doyle, were impressive winners over Clare’s Mark Rogers and Mark Crehan, winning 21-4, 21-9 in their semi at O’Loughlin’s.
Interestingly, both McGinnity and Holden have All-Ireland Minor Singles titles to their name as Jack won the 60x30 Softball Singles last year, with Eoghan seeing off Rodgers in three games in an exciting 4-Wall final last month.
Both Kilkenny players have represented their county in hurling, with Doyle currently a member of the Cats’ minor county panel. If the omens mean anything, that is surely a positive for the Noresiders; Kilkenny last won the All-Ireland 4-Wall Minor Doubles crown in 2006 with another pairing who excelled in both codes, namely Richie Hogan and Nicholas Anthony.
Previously, hurling legend DJ Carey teamed up with the late Eamon Law to win the title twice in 1989 and 1990 while, prior to that, Michael ‘Ducksy’ Walsh and Pearse O’Keeffe were champions in 1984 and Billy Bourke won the title on three occasions. If historical form is anything to go on, then, the Leinster boys should have the edge but of course sport does not work like that and McGinnity has been breaking lots of new ground in recent years, including, of course, bringing the Minor Singles and World 17&U crowns back to the Farney county for the first time.
Holden’s brother Conor recently won the U15 Singles All-Ireland while his sister Aoife competes at senior level. McGinnity, too, is from a well-known handball clan, with sisters Louise and Emily competing very strongly at juvenile level of late also.
This clash is a difficult one to call and will probably come down to which duo plays better as a partnership on the day. McGinnity is the strongest of the 4-Wall Singles players of the four and links up well with right-side player Kowal but the Kilkenny pair are well seasoned as a partnership, with Doyle - a smooth player who excels off the back wall - an excellent foil to the physically strong and athletic Holden.
The clash of styles between both pairs is sure to make for an enthralling spectacle, too. On recent doubles form, Kilkenny may appear to have the edge but, of course, Monaghan have an ace in the pack in the form of the recently- crowned singles winner.