‘You’ll never beat the Irish’ was the war cry of the vocal Irish American supporters attending the prestigious invitational 71st United States Handball Association Tournament in Portland, Oregon this week where Kerry’s Dominick Lynch won the Over-40 Singles title.
rish flags flew with pride as cheers rang out in the magnificent auditorium to greet Kerry handball stars Lynch and Jack O’Shea as they took on the challenge of top players from Mexico, Canada, Europe, England and 250 players from America.
Irish fans were on their feet to cheer Lynch, competing in the Men’s Over 40 Singles tournament, and the Glenbeigh native had an easy passage to the semi-final where he met Pete Svennungsen (USA) and recorded a resounding victory on a 21-2 and 21-7 scoreline. In the final Lynch, playing some dramatic handball, thrilled the packed auditorium with a stylish display to win the coveted title on a 21-8 and 21-3 scoreline defeating the fancied California player Jorge Lopez.
“I was thrilled with the win but had to play some of my best handball to beat off the challenge of the Americans.” he said. “The ball used in this tournament is slightly different from the one we use in Ireland. It’s smaller, it’s heated before play and travels much faster than our standard ball. It really tests your speed, stamina and reflexes,” said the holder of 34 All-Ireland medals and 61 Munster titles.
There was a warm welcome for Jack O’Shea in a very competitive Men’s Over-35 Singles competition. O’Shea accounted for Carlos Flores (California) in the quarter final. In the semi-final he took on the challenge of Fausto Castro (California) winning both games 21-7 and 21-11.
However, the final proved to be a dramatic affair with O’Shea taking on Braulio Ruiz from Arizona. This proved to be a titanic battle with Ruiz taking the first game 21-15. O’Shea rallied in the second game beating his opponent 21-3 with some sensational handball. In the deciding third game Ruiz held on to snatch a hard fought win outscoring O’Shea 11-3.
“I was delighted with my performance during the week. We played some of the best players in the world and came away with medals,” O’Shea said. “The event is one of the largest in the world and took place at the state of the art facility in Portland which has 13 courts with extensive spectator seating, restaurants and other amenities making it one of the best in America. It was an honor to have been invited to the tournament and I was thrilled to come home with a medal,” said the winner of 17 Munster titles, nine All-Ireland titles and three Irish National titles.
One of the tournament highlights, the Men’s Professional Open Doubles competition, saw Dominick Lynch team up with three times World Doubles and twice Singles champion Gavin Buggy from Wexford. Advancing to the quarter-final they defeated Abraham Montijo and Dylan Key from Tucson 21-17 and 21-4.
In a dramatic semi-final the Irish pair took on the challenge of the youthful duo of Sam Esser (Arizona) and Max Langmack (Kansas) winning the first game 21-12. In a tight second game the Buggy and Lynch combination was defeated 21-18 despite a heroic comeback to level the game. Tied at a game each the event went to a tie break game. This proved to be the game of the tournament with the side’s level for most of the round. However, in the dying seconds the Americans edged ahead to win 11-7.
America has been a happy hunting ground for the Mid Kerry stars with 2018 a hallmark year at the World championships in Minnesota. Lynch won the Singles, Doubles and One Wall competitions with O’Shea winning gold in the 40×20 A Singles finals and adding a silver medal in the One Wall A Singles final. At the 2015 championships in Canada he won a silver medal in the Four Wall Men’s B Singles final.