Handball: Heartbreak to euphoria for Carroll
07 May 2012
Meath handballer Brian Carroll
Meath's Brian Carroll enjoyed one of his finest days in the 40x20 arena on Sunday when he secured his place on the official Irish team for the forthcoming World Championships in Dublin this October. The 25 year old Kells man recently suffered heartbreak alongside Tom Sheridan in the All-Ireland final in early April when they lost out agonisingly to Cavan's Paul Brady and Michael Finnegan 21-20 in the third game. The speedy Carroll who was undeniably the most consistent player at the World senior doubles trials in Kingscourt last weekend, played his role to ensure that he alongside Westmeath's Robbie McCarthy will represent Ireland at the expense of the Cavan side.
After losing the opener to the experienced Breffni combination by a twelve point margin 9-21, things looked like playing out according to plan for Ireland's most prevailing partnership, Brady and Finnegan. Trailing 5-0 in game two, few would have given the younger Carroll and McCarthy much hope but they began to curb the Cavan threat whilst getting into their groove and suddenly they led 17-8. Carroll's anticipatory skills and doubles knowhow facilitated rally ending opportunities for the recently crowned Irish Nationals singles champion, McCarthy, who finished with ruthless precision.
The former 19 and under USA doubles victors and the 2009 World senior finalists in Portland, McCarthy and Carroll, then closed out game two 21-15. The tiebreaker was intense throughout but McCarthy and Carroll held their nerve to take the spoils 11-9.
"It was great to get a win against Paul and Michael. It wasn't looking good for us after the first game, they seemed to be in control and they had us on the back foot from the start. Even at the start of the second game we were under severe pressure but then I think we relaxed a bit and our shots started coming off. We had nothing to lose at that stage," said a delighted Carroll. "Robbie got a lot of good serves in down the right which gave him chances to kill the ball which he took and that gave both of us a bit of confidence. I tried to play solid and not make any unforced errors. I knew Robbie would finish the rallies if he got half a chance. Luckily that game plan worked for us in the end. It would have hurt me a lot if we were to lose that game especially after losing the senior doubles final by one point with Tom (Sheridan) a few weeks previous. I suppose it softens the blow to some extent although that loss is still quite painful."
Carroll, who also lost out in the singles championship to Brady in the semis will now be able to put the disappointments from this season well and truly behind him and now look forward to representing his country at the greatest spectacle in world handball.
"I felt I have played well all season and I would have been very disappointed to finish the season without any win so this means a lot. Looking ahead to the worlds, I have the 60x30 season to get through first so that will be my main focus for the next few months but I am still looking forward to the Worlds already. It's a great honour to represent Ireland. Chances to represent your country don't come around too often so I'm just going to enjoy being part of the official squad. The Worlds are going to be a fantastic event in the City West Arena and to represent Ireland at this event will make it even more special for me."
McCarthy's exploits in April means that the 25 year old will now captain the Emerald Isle this Autumn when the best players on the planet descend on Irish soil. Capping the weekend for McCarthy, his celebrations continued into Monday when the Irish team captain had a baby boy. Antrim sisters, Fiona Shannon and Sibeal Gallagher also had to bounce back from a first game loss to book their official slot in the ladies doubles bracket. Kerry's Maria Daly and Ashley Prendiville looked unstoppable in game one as they won 21-13 but after the restart, the number one side from Belfast took control, winning out 21-7 and 11-5.