St. Coman’s Fiona Tully confirmed her status as the number one female underage handballer in the country when she captured the All-Ireland Minor Ladies singles 40×20 Handball title in Kingscourt, Co. Cavan on Saturday.
By Aengus Cunningham
With the new format of a weekend of All-Ireland finals all being held in the same venue, there was a huge crowd present to see an extremely hard fought encounter where Fiona was put to the pin of her collar before finally emerging with the honours.
Her opponent was Kildare’s Hannah Dagg, who has a style quite similar to Fiona but would have been regarded as the underdog beforehand. However, any doubts about her competitiveness were quickly put to bed in a back-and-forth first game where a seemingly below par Tully just about scraped a 21-19 win. Normal service seemed to resume in the second when Fiona led all the way up to 17-12, but some poor concentration from the Roscommon girl let Dagg come from behind to take an unexpected 21-17 win.
At this stage Fiona looked quite tired and when the Kildare girl blasted into a 6-0 lead in the third things were looking bleak. But in complete contrast to her normal stylish method of playing, the final stages of this game was all about grinding out point after point in a battle of wills and like all great players, even when not playing well Fiona managed to dig really deep and found new reserves of energy to give her a very tense third stanza on a misleading looking 21-12 scoreline.
Golden Masters All-Ireland 40×20 Handball Final
Earlier that day in another Roscommon/Kildare encounter at the same venue, Curraghboy’s Ger Walsh was well beaten by Leixlip’s excellent Mikey Dowling. Unfortunately Ger just never seemed to get going and although it’s a strong facet of his arsenal normally, he struggled badly with Dowling’s roof game. The first game was over before the south Roscommon man made any impression and it was well into the second before he played something resembling his form from previous matches. However, the gap was far too wide at that stage and disappointingly Ger went down on a 21-1, 21-7 scoreline.
All-Ireland 40×20 Ladies Junior ‘B’ Handball Final
On Wednesday last St. Coman’s Aoife McDonagh had home venue in her favour due to a request for a change of date by her opponent because of foreign soccer commitments. However, it didn’t do the Roscommon girl much good as Limerick’s Katie McCarthy dominated their Ladies Junior ‘B’ All-Ireland final from start to finish. McCarthy is only just out of the underage ranks where she was always a very strong competitor and her low error count and tactic of never letting the ball past her kept Aoife on the defensive at all times. As hard as she tried Aoife couldn’t come close and lost 21-3, 21-5.