All-Ireland handball final a sell-out

For the first time in the 79-year history of the competition, the M Donnelly 60 x 30 Singles Handball finals have been announced as a sell-out.

The Senior, Intermediate and Minor deciders take place in the National Handball Centre at Croke Park this Saturday and National Handball Promotions Administrator Niamh Egan is thrilled with the interest in Irish Handball's premier event.

"It is testament to the huge interest in this year's final that there is such demand for tickets," Egan said.

"Unfortunately for us, there are only a limited number of tickets available and for some dedicated fans. We are currently trying to provide the game on a nearby big screen."

Handball has gone full-circle since the Irish Handball Council formed in 1928 when Urlingford native Martin Joyce represented Dublin when winning the inaugural 60 x 30 singles event.

This weekend, there are again Dublin and Kilkenny connections involved in the final. The Senior event pits reigning champion Eoin Kennedy against 16-times winner Michael 'Ducksy' Walsh of Kilkenny. It is this eagerly-awaited pairing which has seen ticket sales go through the roof, according to its promotions expert.

"Having a Senior singles final with handball legend 'Ducksy' Walsh taking on the defending champion Eoin Kennedy is a great selling point for the game but at the moment, we just cannot accommodate the demand," Egan added.

The 28-year-old Kennedy is hoping for a three-in-a-row success this weekend, but knows that nothing will come easy against the master of the game.

"We have both been around for a fair while now. He (Walsh) has obviously been around longer than me but I'm definitely expecting a really tight, hard game on Saturday," Kennedy said.

"We played several times over the years and there is never going to be an easy game. Our last final was in 2002 but we did play last year in the semi-final where I came out with a narrow victory so if I came out with the same on Saturday I would be delighted."

Having bounced back from his problems with alcohol, the 41-year-old Walsh is also looking forward to a keenly-contested decider and is hoping to bring home another All-Ireland medal.

"They couldn't come any bigger than facing Eoin and it is great to be back in a final," he admitted.

"Eoin has been champion for the last few years and he will be the favourite heading into this final. He will be giving it his best shot and hopefully I can do my best also. I have been training hard and I deserve to be there and even if he wins, I will have given it my best shot."

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