Single ace win for Cavan in Senior Doubles decider
09 April 2012
Cavan's Paul Brady and Michael Finnegan celebrate
GAA Handball O'Neills All Ireland 40x20 Championships Review
Single ace win for Cavan in Senior Doubles decider
It will be a long while before a finals crowd will be treated to such an absorbing Senior Doubles championship decider as that which was served up in Cappagh on Saturday afternoon. Cavan's Paul Brady and Michael Finnegan eventually claimed their eighth title in all and third in a row in the series when they claimed a last gasp ace to deny Meath legend, Tom Sheridan, and his partner, Brian Carroll, by 21-20 in the deciding game.
It was the second final of the afternoon programme which ended on that scoreline and on this occasion the standard of play was breathtaking to say the least. The power pass and kill shots which won the rallies were actually overshadowed by the incredible retrieving exhibited in all three games, with Brian Carroll in particular exhibiting astonishing speed and reflexes in that sphere.
The Royal county combination, chasing a first 40x20 doubles crown as a pairing, won the opening game 21-9 and the teams were sitting level at 11-11 midway through the second game following an explosive 33 minutes of action. Brady's power serving then kicked into overdrive though and they hit the telling shots to pull clear 21-11 and set up a tie break game.
Sheridan delivered some outstanding early corner killshots in the third and they opened up a 6-1 lead before Finnegan and Brady rallied to level at 8-8. Carroll's three brilliant returns from Brady's power kills helped them into a 12-8 lead and, while the Cavan men failed to score with two hands, Meath then pulled 15-8 in front and looked to be moving ever closer to that senior gold.
Six aces in succession from Brady and Finnegan then made it 14-15 but amazingly the game again turned on its head and the 2012 title seemed destined for Meath when they then hit five points in a row to make it 20-15. However, the reigning champions closed with four aces, two provided by awesome Brady serves and a fantastic long range corner kill from Finnegan making it 19-20. The Royal County partnership then regained serve and will only reflect on what may have been as they failed to get that winning ace with their two hands and Brady and Finnegan claimed the last two aces for the championship title on a 21-20 scoreline.
Brady was naturally elated with his latest triumph, "You don't get any closer than what we had today. We were possibly fortunate in the end but we got the vital shots when it mattered and delighted to win this senior title."
A fantastic conclusion to the 2012 Adult 40x20 Championships and one which will be remembered for some time for the outstanding levels of skill, pace, power and retrieving.
Clare win minor thriller
The 2012 GAA Handball All Ireland Minor Doubles championship concluded with a dramatic title decider in Cappagh on Saturday afternoon. Following two hours of absorbing handball it was the Clare partnership of Colin Crehan and Niall Bolton who claimed the honours with just a single ace to spare, defeating Tyrone's Gabhainn McCrystal and Pól Clarke by 21-20 in the third.
This was a brilliant encounter involving two young pairings who are all still eligible for the grade in twelve months time. Crehan was in imperious form in the opening game and his pinpoint long range accuracy proved decisive as they ran out winners by 21-12 before McCrystal and Clarke seized the initiative to take control in the second. The silky skills of McCrystal and the retrieving of Clarke saw them pull away to lead 15-6 in that game but they had to hold off a determined rally from the Banner County lads to set up a tie-break with a 21-17 win.
In the third game, the Clare pairing began to find their range and they transformed the look of the tie again when they opened up a seemingly unassailable 15-6 lead. However, the Tyrone players battled gamely and soon clawed their way back into contention, winning some fantastic rallies and actually pushed ahead to lead 20-18, and serve for the championship. Clare regained serve however and three exceptional serves from Crehan was enough to see them close out the tie and claim the 2012 honours by 21-20.
Shannon reclaims Senior crown
Antrim's Fiona Shannon has returned to the pinnacle of irish ladies handball following her All Ireland senior final win over reigning champion, Kerry's Maria Daly, on Saturday in Cappagh.
This always had the makings of a terrific contest and it looked very good for Daly early on as she produced a fantastic array of shots, particularly her long range left-handed killshots. The Ballymcelligot player, chasing her third successive title in the series, opened up a commanding 8-1 lead but from there Shannon hunted down every ball and gradually began to get back into contention. They were eventually level at 10-10 and the St Paul's player moved firmly into the driving seat as she went on to take the first 21-14.
That set the tone for the beginning of the second game and Shannon pushed ahead into a 15-4 advantage. The Kerry player was not going to concede her crown so easily though and delivered a series of superb killshots to get back into the game and was serving at 15-19. The final few aces of play actually took 17 minutes to decide the outcome of the game and the Antrim player was 20-16 in front and had 8 serves at that final ace before finally securing the honours by 21-17.
GAA Handball O'Neills All Ireland ADULT 40x20 Championship Finals
Saturday 7th April, in Cappagh, Limerick:
Minor Doubles Final: Clare (Colin Crehan/Niall Bolton) dft Tyrone (Pol Clarke/Gabhainn McCrystall) 21-12, 17-21, 21-20
Ladies Senior Singles Final: Antrim (Fiona Shannon) dft Kerry (Maria Daly) 21-14, 21-17
Mens SD Final: Cavan (Paul Brady/Michael Finnegan) dft Meath (Brian Carroll/Tom Sheridan) 9-21, 21-11, 21-20