Killoughey, one half of the successful K/K combination, continued the winning ways of the parish when they added the Southwest Leinster League title as another jewel in the parish crown.
Killoughey met Carlow YM in the Grade 5 Men’s 4 League final in Athy RFC. The teams have met 3 times in the last year and each time has been close and exciting, so team members knew it would be a close, tough match and spectators knew they were in for a treat.
David Ruddock and Bobby Iype led out for Carlow against Alan Conroy and Michael Mahon, Killoughey. Bobby Iype, with a nail-driving smash and exceptionally quick reflects, has been a welcome addition to the Carlow team this season. David Ruddock and Bobby Iype got the better start in the first set. Killoughey were always playing catch-up and even though they were able to level the score, they could never get enough in front to seal victory. Carlow won the first set 21/17.
In a hard hitting second set, both teams were playing careful badminton, always cautious, knowing they were in a final. In the early stages of the set, the lead exchanged hands, but as the game progressed, Carlow got on top and stayed there to win game, set, and match 21/16. This actually levelled the match.
Second men’s had taken the floor to start the match. Richard Wallace and Raymond James, Carlow YM and Damien Nevin and Jimmy Keating, Killoughey, fought a hotly contested first set. The game was tight the entire way. The lead changed hands several times before Damien and Jimmy won 21/18. After a quick chat, Damien and Jimmy went out in a totally different mind-set and a higher gear. Playing in K/K hurling jerseys, they didn’t let the side down and won 21/4.
The game of the day was Third Men’s between Richard Wallace and Bobby Iype, Carlow YM and Alan Conroy and Jimmy Keating, Killoughey. Alan and Jimmy went behind 7/1 at the start. From then on the tempo picked up. The players, hit and ran and ran and hit with each side using clears, drops and smashes to try and outsmart the other pair. Killoughey pulled back to within two points and fell away again. At 19/14, Killoughey gained one point to 19/15.
Then Carlow won back serve, 20/15 in a 21 point game. Alan and Jimmy stopped Carlow, 20/16. Alan was serving. He had trouble serving in both games, with high serves going out and low serves being smashed back. Suddenly he steadied, the serve was over and the rally began. The oh’s and ah’s from the spectators told the story. Killoughey won the point. Another serve, another long rally, another point for Killoughey, 20-18. Carlow started to make simple mistakes. At 20/19, Killoughey set the shuttle high above the net and the set looked over, but the Carlow player fresh-aired the shuttle, 20-all. Killoughey lost the next point with a mistake of their own, 21/20, but they bounced back, 21-all. With each serve, the player would stop for a few deep breaths to steady himself. Carlow scored the next point, 22-21. Then after a long rally, and a Carlow unforced error, Killoughey levelled the score 22-all. At this point, Carlow seemed to be rattled and lose concentration. They still fought like tigers, but Killoughey had the upper hand and scored the next two points to win 24/22.
The second set started more evenly than the first, but again Carlow got the better start. Killoughey stuck closer to them and managed to go ahead a few times, but each time the Carlow players reeled the score in. In the latter stages of the set, Carlow began to dominate. Again Killoughey had to come from behind to level the score, but this time at 19-all. Then Carlow scored next to go 20/19 up, but Killoughey stopped them on the next rally. 20-all. And then the game was over.
After two short rallies, Killoughey scored two points to clinch a 22/20 win. Fourth Men’s became the do-or-die game. If Carlow YM could win in two sets, they forced the match to be decided on total scores. If Killoughey won a set before Carlow did, they won, and even if Carlow won 2-1, Killoughey still had a extra set, so won. David Ruddock and Raymond James started off with great purpose and determination and were still ahead when they scored their 7th point, but after that Damien Nevin and Michael Mahon settled into their game. Mick’s tight net drops and Damien’s net smashes proved decisive in the end, and Killoughey won 21/16 to score a two games and one set victory to Carlow YM’s 2 games.