Irish stars secure Worlds Team places
30 April 2012
Westmeath's Robbie McCarthy
The Mens and Ladies Open Doubles trials to represent Ireland at the 2012 World Handball Championships reached a climax in Kingscourt, Cavan, on Sunday with the semi finals and finals of both events deciding the Team Ireland 40x20 squad for the high profile international event later this year.
The Ladies Open doubles event saw reigning World and All Ireland senior doubles champions, Fiona Shannon and Sibeal Gallagher (Antrim) defeat Kilkenny's Ciara Mahon and Mary Phelan by 21-2, 21-6 and then overcame the Roscommon and Kildare combination of Marianna Rushe and Anna Spence in the semi-finals by 21-6, 21-8 to set up a semi final showdown with Kerry's Maria Daly and Ashley Prendiville. That duo, who had lost out in this year's All Ireland senior doubles decider, while going for three in a row in that series, were also impressive winners against Ciana Ní Churraoin (Galway) and Lauren O'Riordain (Roscommon) by 21-14, 21-8 before sopping a convincing win against Cork's Catriona Casey and Aisling O'Keefe by 21-6, 21-13.
The Ladies Open Doubles Worlds Team Trials Final was always expected to be another riveting battle between two partnerships who have enjoyed phenomenal battles over the past few years. They had seen an incredible struggle develop in the All Ireland final three weeks ago, which Shannon and Gallagher had won, but in the opening game of their latest meeting, Daly and Prendiville were in superb form. Both players were all out on the offensive from an early stage and served up some fantastic killshots which had the world champions in trouble. The Kerry girls opened up a 15-6 lead and, despite a valiant rally from Antrim, they ran out winners by 21-13 in that opening game. The match then saw a dramatic turnaround however as Shannon and Galagher siezed control of proceedings to run out winners in the second by 21-7. The Kerry girls did regain their composure to lead 4-0 in the tie-break but with Shannon hunting every ball and Gallagher showing excellent finishing quality around the front they stormed ahead to win 11-5.
Having lost in the Ladies Irish Open final to Aisling Reilly a week earlier, Fiona Shannon was delighted with the win "It's always a great honour to be named on the Official Irisih team especially considering the amazing plans for the Worlds this October. I was disappointed with the defeat in the Nationals but myself and Sibeal have been playing well and this latest win puts us in a good position for the World Championship defence".
The Mens Open Doubles trials started out with twelve contenders and in the top half, the All Ireland Senior Doubles champions, Cavan's Paul Brady and Michael Finnegan, had a 21-8, 21-20 win over Gavin Buggy (Wexford) and Dominick Lynch (Kerry) before scoring an emphatic win over the Tyrone partnership of Padraig McGlinchey and Darragh Daly, winning 21-3, 21-6. In the side of the draw it was the Westmeath and Meath combination of Robbie McCarthy and Brian Carroll who came through with victories over Dublin's Ian Griffin and Egin Jensen by 21-8, 21-6 and then denied Tom Sheridan (Meath) and Martin Mulkerrins (Galway) by 21-12, 21-10. The Armagh and Tyrone partnership of Charly Shanks and Ciaran Curran provided the semi final opposition and they ran out winners by 21-14, 21-9 to set up that showdown with Brady and Finnegan.
The Mens Open doubles trial final proved to be an absorbing contest with Paul Brady and Michael Finnegan looking in fluent and unstoppable form early on as they powered to a 21-8 victory. It looked very good for the Cavan pair too when they opened up a 5-0 advantage in the second but all changed from there. They shot ahead by 17-8 and despite another rally from the Cavan men to make it 15-18, McCarthy and Carroll hit the decisive aces to win 21-15. The tie-break was equally compelling and the large crowd were engrossed when they stood level at 8-8. McCarthy and Carroll then went 10-8 ahead before Finnegan and Brady regained serve but they added just a solitary ace to make it 10-9. McCarthy then delivered a fantastic winning kill to end an enthralling contest and secure the Open Doubles spot on the Official Irish Team for the Worlds 2012.
"I had to bounce back from the defeat to Paul (Brady) in the All Ireland final but I have felt good about my handball the past few weeks and winning the Nationals to become Team Captain of the Official Irish team is a huge honour and now to team up with Brian (Carroll) and win today is amazing. The Cavan lads have dominated world doubles handball now for a number of years so it is no mean feat to beat them today and we will have to train and continue that sort of form now into the Worlds" commented McCarthy.
That completed the national 40x20 season and with the One Wall, Hardball and 60x30 Softball codes to come there will continue to be an exciting build-up to the most eagerly awaited International handball competition in history this October. The 2012 World Handball Championships will now be officially launched in May, where details of how 33 countries and 2,000 competitors will travel to compete in a state of the art purpose-built arena in The Citywest Hotel and COnvention Centre with full details of the Official Team Ireland for the event.
Team Ireland World Open Handball Doubles trials
Sunday 29th April, in Kingscourt, Cavan:
Ladies Open Doubles Trials Semi Finals: Fiona Shannon and Sibeal Gallagher (Antrim) dft Marianna Rushe (Roscommon) and Anna Spence (Kildare) 21-6, 21-8; Maria Daly and Ashley Prendiville (Kerry) dft Catriona Casey and Aisling O'Keefe (Cork) 21-6, 21-13
Ladies Open Doubles Trials Final: Fiona Shannon and Sibeal Gallagher (Antrim) dft Maria Daly and Ashley Prendiville (Kerry) 13-21, 21-7, 11-5
Mens Open Doubles Trials Semi Finals: Paul Brady and Michael Finnegan (Cavan) dft Padraig McGlinchey and Darragh Daly (Tyrone) 21-3, 21-6; Robbie McCarthy (Westmeath) and Brian Carroll (Meath) dft Charly Shanks (Armagh) and Ciaran Curran (Tyrone) 21-14, 21-9.
Mens Open Doubles Trials Final: Robbie McCarthy (Westmeath) and Brian Carroll (Meath) dft Paul Brady and Michael Finnegan (Cavan) 9-21, 21-15, 11-9