Cooney , McCann & Walsh to seal All-Ireland handball titles
11 August 2012
McCann to lead the way as Sligo aim for treble of All-Ireland handball titles, writes Michael McGee
Winning All-Ireland handball titles for Francis McCann is nothing new since that historic day in 1977 when the champion handballer won his first All-Ireland handball when winning the All-Ireland minor hardball doubles championships with the late Michael Porter. McCann followed this up 2 years later winning the U-21 doubles and in 1981 the Junior titles followed. The Ballymote man is aiming to bring his All-Ireland medal haul to 18th at the weekend an astonishing record. McCann meets Kildare's Mick Dowling for the second time this year. The Kildare man defeated McCann in the 40 x 20 final last March in Curraghboy. The Sligo stalwart is the reigning champion in this grade having collected the title in Roscommon in 2011 with a 21-11, 21-13 win over Cavan's Mickelleen Brady. McCann is in superb form all season and his only real test in this year's campaign came in the Connacht final. The champion opened well and took the first game by 21-9. His opponent in Mayo's Martin Vahey came back strongly in game two with some outstanding play thus bringing to a tie breaker. Mc Cann, undaunted by this is a teak tough seasoned campaigner having coming through many memorable triumphs in a long and distinguished playing career. Despite being on "the roops" the Yeats man recovered well and incredibly only allowed Vahey one further score for the remainder of the match. McCann had the advantage of Ballymote for his semi-final outing and he made it count with an impressive 21-1, 21-14 over Monaghan Conor McDonnell.
" McCann's determination and willingness to work hard has certainly stood the test of time. His undoubted natural skills and inspirational battling qualities have won him many outstanding achievements in the heat of battle. The Sligo man's superior fitness and greater experience in finals should see him once again stand again on the summit as he embarks on bringing back another historic All-Ireland handball title back to the Ballymote club."
Path to the final:
Connacht final: Golden Masters A singles: Francis Mc Cann dft Martin Vahey 21-9, 13-21, 21-1
All-Ireland semi-final: Golden Masters A singles: Francis McCann dft Conor McDonnell (Monaghan) 21-1, 21-14
Walsh's wizardry to win out
Legendary Sligo Handball players Paddy Walsh goes in search of another All-Ireland title when he takes on takes on Dublin's Mick O'Brien in the Over 70's singles All-Ireland final. Walsh from the St. Mary's club in Sligo is going for an unprecedented 29th All-Ireland handball title in an illustrious career. Walsh won his first All-Ireland title back in 1981. Walsh has also won 7 Senior County GAA titles with Collooney/Ballisodare in the 1970's and 1 title with St. Mary's. Walsh's great battles with Meath's Christy Lynagh has become part of handball folklore in Sligo and National handball circles. The last time these two players met was in the All-Ireland Ruby Masters singles semi-final in Collooney two years ago. On that occasion the Dubliner beat the Yeats County man over 3 games.
"Walsh looks better prepared this time training twice a week for the past number of months. His experience and utter determination to win every game is part of Walsh's DNA. He still has the hunger, heart and passion to achieve in what will be another historic achievement for Sligo's greatest ever handball player. "
Cooney's power to knock out Frazier
Castleconnor's Martin Cooney play's in his first All-Ireland final and like McCann is in arguably the best form of his life. Forced out through injury in 2011 Cooney's performances in this year's championships make for very impressive reading In his Connacht final appearance he defeated his great nemesis in Mayo's George Miller by 21-6, 21-12 while an even greater display awaited him in the semi-final when he blitzed Down's Sean McNally in straight games. Cooney's thunderous power play has been the catalyst that has seen the Castleconnor man reach the final. Cooney's opponent will be Limerick's John Frazier. Frazier demolished Kilkennny's Paul Dowling 21-1, 21-8 in his semi final. In recent training sessions Cooney has been in flying form pushing the likes of McCann & Mayo's Jason Judge to their limits. The former Monaghan native will go in as favourite. The Masters player will give it all and come Sunday evening Cooney & the Castleconnor club should be celebrating in what will be notable achievement.
"The Castleconnor club man is very well equipped to take his first All-Ireland title with his blistering power and precision strokes. Cooney's positional alertness around the court will prove crucial and with that little extra bit of determination, strength of mind & court craft needed to win All-Ireland's it should be enough to secure the title."
Path to the final:
Connacht final Silver Masters B singles: Martin Cooney dft George Miller (Mayo) 21-6, 21-13
All-Ireland semi-final Silver Masters B singles: Martin Cooney dft Sean McNally (Down) 21-4, 21-5.
M Donnelly GAA Handball All Ireland 60x30 Softball Championship Finals 2012
Saturday 18th August 2012, in St. Coman's, Roscommon:
5pm: Golden Masters A Singles: Francis McCann Sligo v Mick Dowling Kildare
6pm: Over 70 Singles: Paddy Walsh Sligo v Mick O'Brien Dublin
Sunday 19th August 2012, in Williamstown, Galway:
1pm: Silver Masters B Singles: Martin Cooney Sligo v John Frazier Limerick