Munster won the Men’s Over 55, and the Ladies’.
THE DRIVE FOR FIVE
The Munster Masters O55 drive-for-five came to a successful conclusion in Galway last weekend. After making it four-in-a-row last year captain Michael Mulhall decided he would try and do what his fellow-county man, Brian Cody, failed to do – (similarly Mick O’Dwyer with Kerry) – and attempt to win five in a row.
Munster had a very strong panel in this grade, despite losing the services of a player of John Dineen’s calibre beforehand. This was exemplified by the fact that they could allow Timmy McCarthy and Eamonn O’Keeffe play with the O45 team on Friday night the latter recovering from 2/0 down to win 3/2.
The O55 team of Eddie Murphy, Michael Conlon, Michael Mulhall, Martin McDonnell and James McSweeney took on Ulster and won 5/0 to get the weekend off to a flying start. Captain Michael Mulhall was fearful that the players might get a bit carried away with this win so he imposed an 11 o’clock curfew and an alcohol ban for the Friday night – which was strictly adhered to – by Eddie Murphy anyway!
On Saturday AM Captain Michael decided to rest Martin McDonnell who seems to be more affected by the passage of time than his team-mates. Timmy McCarthy stepped in at 4 and won along with Eddie Murphy, Michael Conlon and James McSweeney. Michael Mulhall, probably due to the stress of his job as captain, played second fiddle to an on-form Gerry Delaney. Michael might also have had an eye on the bigger picture and the bigger fish to be fried in the afternoon (Codyesque!).
This set up a mouth-watering final match against Connacht in the afternoon. Alf Kavanagh, who had played in and masterminded Connacht’s last win against Munster – when they stopped our previous attempt at five-in-a-row – had flown in to assist with the planning and plotting again. However, James McSweeney got Munster off to a great start with a win against an extremely fit T.J. Mullins. The nerves and tension of the occasion could be seen in every shot and miss and call. When Martin McDonnell beat Patrick Hanley Munster breathed a small sigh of relief as Pat had often previously been a big thorn in Munster’s side. Next up the number ones. Eddie, (probably exhausted from coaching every other player up to this!!) as the higher ranked player, was expected to win but Dave Lalor had other ideas and, playing some great squash, raced into a 1/0 lead. The game continued at a very high standard and by the time Dave lead 6/3 in the 5th the Connaught supporters were getting noticeably more vociferous. However – ‘cometh the hour’ – Eddie stuck to the plan and playing his usual deft touches and deceptive drops recovered to win the 5th comfortably and the title for Munster. Kevin Padden showed how dangerous Connacht were by beating Michael Mulhall at no 3. Munster’s Duracell bunny, Michael Conlon, did not have to play against Peter Murphy but he was fully charged as usual, ready for the fray if needed.
The Munster O65 team of John O’Donovan, Derry McCarthy, Jim O’Callaghan, Noel Murphy and Joe Whelan came within a whisker of pulling off the biggest shock of the weekend against the odds-on favourites, Leinster. Jim O’Callaghan beat Gerry Hand and Derry McCarthy, who hasn’t played competitively for a number of years, got to match ball against Martin Maher but, with defeat staring him in the face, Martin played some unbelievable winners to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Kyran Hurley beat John O’Donovan to clinch the title for Leinster.
The Munster ladies had a brilliant win as well. Ciara Healy, Joanna Hussey, Carol O’Sullivan, Dympna Riordan and Sandra Walsh kept the flag flying for Munster with Sandra winning a fantastic final match against Fiona Parker to win it for Munster.
Well done to Conor O’Neill, who, despite the withdrawal of a lot of players prior to the tournament, managed to field a strong team in the O45 section of himself, Ray Crowley, Geoff Wales, Jack Molloy and Timmy and Eamonn. They played some very good games and were quite competitive throughout.
A big thank you to Jim Hynes and Michael Hynes for all the organisation. It was marvellous to meet some old stalwarts like Joe Higgins (sponsor), John Kilty, Tom Cantwell and, of course, Alf Kavanagh and Mo Sarwar and a great weekend was had by all.
Finally, best wishes to all the players that will be involved in the International Teams over the next few weeks.