On Sunday last Pat Havern and Stephen Digney from Saval travelled to O’Loughlin Gaels in Kilkenny in a bid to claim the county’s first boys Juvenile All Ireland title in the U17 doubles. They faced a strong pairing from Cork in Michael Dunne and Aidan Kerins. In front of a packed gallery Havern and Digney quickly settled into the game taking an 8 – 0 lead. However Cork slowly found their feet and reeled Downs lead in bringing the score to 8 – 7. After a quick time out the Down pairing stepped up their performance playing some excellent ceiling shots leaving the Cork pair constantly under pressure allowing Havern and Digney to edge ahead and close out the first game on a score line of 21 – 10.
The second game started in a similar vein to the first with the Down pair on top despite the hard work and determination shown throughout by the Cork players, Down’s greater quality and skill allowed them to quickly establish a 10 - 1 lead. By now Pat Havern was really showing his ability with a number of spectacular kill shots and Down were in the ascendancy, the feeling in the crowd was that Cork had left themselves too much to do. This was proved correct as Down continued to pile on the pressure and ran out winners on a score line of 21 – 5. Although the games were closer than the score line suggests the comments from Irish handball officials when presenting the medals that they had just witnessed some of the best handball played at underage level for many years was a massive compliment to two extremely talented players.
This has been a terrific end to an excellent season for the young Saval pairing who are now turning their attention to the world championships in Dublin in October as they bid to add a world title to their All Ireland success.