Carroll relishing underdog tag
04 April 2012
Meath handballer Brian Carroll
Carroll relishing underdog tag
Twelve months later and the top two teams in the country, Meath and Cavan will resume battle for the biggest doubles prize in the domestic game.
Cavan's Paul Brady has already retained his 40x20 senior singles title last weekend ensuring his eighth consecutive win when he proved sensational, dominating Westmeath's Robbie McCarthy. He, alongside the gifted right sided specialist, Kingscourt's Michael Finnegan are favourites to land an eighth GAA Handball doubles honour. They displayed the sort of double's prowess on occasion in their semi-final win that has helped them reach the pinnacle on the world stage.
The current US Open doubles winners took three games to advance over Wexford's Barry Goff and Colin Keeling 21-12, 19-21, 21-13 to set up a repeat of twelve months ago. Such reading would give little hope for Meath to curb the calibre of the Breffni paring but in Tom Sheridan and Brian Carroll, the Kells club men are in with a fighting chance.
Sheridan and Carroll edged out 2009 champs, Mayo's Dessie Keegan and Joe McCann 21-14, 21-20 in their semi-final triumph and are looking as focussed as ever. "We were very happy with the semi-final win over Mayo. Tom and I played steady and kept the pressure on Joe and Dessie. We knew we had to keep the pressure on them and not give them too many chances to make aces," said Carroll.
Sheridan has claimed All-Ireland senior doubles gold medals in both the 40x20 and 60x30 with an astonishing four different partners since his maiden senior victory in 1987. Alongside James McGovern, Egin Jenson, Walter O'Connor and more recently Carroll, Sheridan has become an established legend of the Irish game. 25 year old Carroll recognises Sheridan's savvy. "It's great to have the chance to play with Tom. He is without doubt the greatest doubles player I've ever seen and he's not too bad at singles either! His ability to kill the ball from anywhere in the court and his cleverness to play the right shot at the right time is a skill not every player has. Since we started playing together, I've learned a lot from him. I feel he has brought my game on a lot over the last few years. He lets me know when I play a good shot and he also lets me know when I play a bad shot, which I think is a good thing."
Nevertheless, Cavan conquered over the Royal combination in two straight games in the 2011 final 21-10, 21-18 and also managed to upset Meath who were reigning champions in the 60x30 semi-final last July. "Paul and Michael are going to be seriously tough opposition, we are under no illusions. But in saying that, we won't be happy unless we win. We are playing well and we feel we are in with every chance of winning the final. The lads beat us last year in the final so we hope to learn from that defeat and try not to make the same mistakes we did last year. The lads are a great partnership and will be hot favourites to take the title but we hope we can cause an upset."
Clare's USHA 17 and under winner last December, Colin Crehan will partner Niall Bolton in the opening match up against Tyrone in the minor doubles final. This should prove to be an intriguing fixture as both sides will be in buoyant mood ahead of the minor showdown. Clare looked menacing in their semi-final win against Wexford's Galen Riordan and Padraig Foley 21- 5, 21- 14 while Tyrone's Pol Clarke and Gabhainn McCrystall overcame All-Ireland minor singles champion, Leitrim's Donal Wrynn and partner, Shane Doonan in three games 18-21, 21-15, 21-14 in their last four encounter.
FIXTURES: Saturday 7th April, in Cappagh, Limerick:
All Ireland 40x20 Championship Finals:
(Recorded for TV)
12.30pm: Minor Doubles Final: Clare (Colin Crehan/Niall Bolton) v Tyrone (Pol Clarke/Gabhainn McCrystall)
1.45pm: Ladies Senior Singles Final: Antrim (Fiona Shannon) or Antrim (Aisling Reilly) v Kerry (Maria Daly)
3.00pm: Mens SD Final: Cavan (Paul Brady/Michael Finnegan) v Meath (Brian Carroll/Tom Sheridan)