Carroll - A True Royal Performer
24 August 2012
Meath's Brian Carroll will contest his fourth GAA Handball 60x30 senior doubles final in the last five years as he pursues his third gold senior softball medal this Saturday.
Carroll has partnered Kells club mate Tom Sheridan to the senior title twice in recent times and has become widely regarded throughout the country as one of the quickest and most effective right sided players in the game.
The duo from the Royal county grabbed their first senior doubles win together back in 2008 when they defeated this weekend's final opponents, Mayo's Dessie Keegan and Joe McCann. One year later they lost out to eventual winners, Dublin's Eoin Kennedy and Egin Jenson before regaining the most sought after piece of silverware in the doubles game in 2010 when they defeated Kilkenny's Michael "Ducksy" Walsh and Michael Clifford.
It has taken just two years for Meath to get back to the final showdown, scheduled for Abbelara, Longford this Saturday and both Carroll and Sheridan seem to be hitting their peak form at the right end of the season. A fortnight back, they knocked out the current All-Ireland and 60x30 Nationals winners, Wexford's Barry Goff and Colin Keeling in a thrilling three game win 21-19, 10-21, 21-13. "We had a very tough match with Colin (Keeling) and Barry (Goff). It could have gone either way in the third but we were lucky to get a few points ahead and finish out the game. It was nice to beat the defending champions and that win will give us great confidence going into the final. We really had to dig deep for the semi-final win and we're delighted to be back in another final," said the affable Carroll.
Looking ahead to their final match up with the men from the west, Carroll is well aware of the threat that the Ballaghaderreen combination of Keegan and McCann bring to the arena. The Mayo men were runners up twelve months ago to Wexford and also lost out in the final in 2008. The powerful Keegan ably assisted by the steady and reliable McCann beat Kilkenny's Michael Ducksy Walsh and Michael Clifford 21-7, 21-16 in their semi-final to advance in Thurles. "We played Dessie (Keegan) and Joe (McCann) in the 60x30 final in 2008, which we won quite comfortably but we are expecting a much tougher game this time. Dessie and Joe are playing very well and if things are going well for them on the day, they will be very hard to beat. They were finalists last year and they will be hoping to improve on that this year."
Mayo proved that they could go all the way in senior doubles in the 40x20 when they overcame Cavan's Michael Finnegan and Paul Brady in 2009 but having suffered two 60x30 final loses in the previous four seasons, they will be gunning to make sure it's third time lucky this time around.
Sheridan is the most decorated doubles player in senior handball having won senior titles in both codes with no fewer than four different partners since the 1980's which includes current GAA Handball President, Walter O'Connor. With Carroll on his right, who has qualified for Team Ireland for the forthcoming World Handball Championships this October alongside Robbie McCarthy, Meath look menacing. The Leinster side will be even more driven to emerge victorious on Saturday evening after the disappointment of losing out by the narrowest of margins in the 40x20 showdown to Cavan last May when they led 20-15 in game 3 and lost.
The 2012 Mens Open Doubles decider will form the pinnacle of an exciting triple bill of action in Abbeylara, Longford, this Saturday 25th August, commencing at 1.30pm with the Minor Singles decider involving Cork and Leitrim with Limerick and Galway contesting the Intermediate singles final at 2.45pm.
Entry is by ticket with Tickets available on Sale in Abbeylara on the day, priced at €20 and €10 for students.
Saturday 25th August 2012, in Abbeylara, Longford, 1.30pm:
1.30pm: MD Cork (Michael Hedigan/Daniel Relihan) v Leitrim (Donal Wrynn / Shane Doonan)
2.45pm: IS Limerick (CJ Fitzpatrick) v Galway (Martin Mulkerrins)
4.30pm: OD Meath (Tom Sheridan/Brian Carroll) v Mayo (Dessie Keegan/Joe McCann)