By Aengus Cunningham
All-Ireland 40×20 Post Primary Handball Finals
There was no joy for Roscommon in Kingscourt, Co. Cavan last Saturday where the All-Ireland series of the Second Level Colleges were played.
In the shock of the day, the award-laden Fiona Tully (Convent of Mercy) put in a hugely frustrating performance to lose the Senior Girls singles final to Sinead Meaghar (St. Mary’s Nenagh). Having struggled to beat the supposedly more dangerous opponent in Elise McCrory (Dean Maguire, Tyrone) in her semi-final, all the warning signs were there, but Fiona returned to her old habit of poor concentration and indecisive tipping and tapping and lost an extremely winnable match 15-13, 15-5 to an opponent she had never even conceded a game to before.
Cathal O’Connor (Roscommon CBS) had the misfortune to come up against the outstanding player of the day in Gavin Coyle of Ballybay CC, Monaghan in their Senior Singles semi-final. The very impressive Farney youngster was tipped by many insiders as a possible All-Ireland Minor champion last year, but a serious injury kept him out of the game for a protracted period. He was back with a bang in this competition though and beat Cathal decisively in two games and won his final also to mark him out as a real ‘one to watch’ in the future.
The Junior Doubles pairing of Dylan Hanley and Magomed Yakhyaev (Roscommon CBS) also met superb opposition in their semi-final when they were beaten by Omagh CBS duo Antoin Fox and Lorcan McBride. The Tyrone lads had already beaten the Roscommon lads in their 60×30 equivalent in a competitive affair, but 40×20 is the preferred court of the Red Hand boys and they proved it with a very clearcut win, before going on to win the final just as easily.
Roscommon 40×20 Minor Handball Final
Cathal O’Connor and Michael Egan (both St. Coman’s) served up a brilliant County Minor Final in their home court last Wednesday night with the outcome in doubt until the very last point. The match started in the manner it was expected to, with points so hard to come by that after 15 minutes the score was only 3-3. However, bit by bit, Cathal’s more clinical use of the ball overcame Michael’s more high-octane approach and took him to a quite decisive 21-11 first game.
Cathal started the second well, going 3-1 up, but then Michael reeled off 7 point in a row before Cathal finally took a timeout in an attempt to stop his momentum. However, it was too late as the younger lad now had the bit between his teeth and was playing some exceptional handball, never letting his concentration dip and taking the second 21-11.
Inevitably, with all to play for, the third was a tight affair right the way through. The one tactical difference though, was Michael’s refusal to yield the centre of the court, even if it meant taking balls on the half-volley. This kept Cathal constantly on the backfoot and made it increasingly more difficult for him to finish the ball. In the end, after an hour and three quarters of terrific play, Michael held off the hard-charging Cathal to take a thrilling third 21-17.
Connacht 40×20 Minor Handball Semi-Final
Michael Egan continued his winning ways in the Connacht Semi-Final with a good win over Mayo’s solid Martin Mulhern in Aughagower, Co. Mayo last Sunday. After a close beginning, Michael’s overall class and serving gave him a comfortable 21-14, 21-6 win and next up he meets Galway’s Diarmuid Mulkerrins, most likely the coming weekend in Ballaghaderreen.