Ó Cualáin retains league crown after absorbing battle

Eric O'Brien, league secretary and cisteoir Galway Handball Board, with league champion Oisín Ó Cualáin (Micheal Breathnachs) and league runner-up Kieran Hanley (Williamstown).

Eric O'Brien, league secretary and cisteoir Galway Handball Board, with league champion Oisín Ó Cualáin (Micheal Breathnachs) and league runner-up Kieran Hanley (Williamstown).

Oisín Ó Cualáin of Micheál Breathnachs has retained the handball's premier division title after a tough battle against Williamstown's Kieran Hanley.

It was a cracker of a final that took 90 minutes to decide before the Galwegian claimed the crown 21-11, 21-8.

The first game took some 50 minutes to complete after Hanley took an early 7-4 lead. However Ó Cualáin came roaring back, took back the serve, and began pounding out inch high serves over the line. Yet the Williamstown man was able to get the returns to keep the game in line for another 20 minutes.

A time-out was called at 15-9 and after this, the Breathnachs' player turned on the power and rattled out more low thunder serves to help him win the opening game 21-11.

Ó Cualáin opened the serving in the second game, but it was Hanley who pulled ahead to lead 2-0 after five minutes.

Hanley changed tactics and slowed the game down to take the power shots away from his opponent. This tactic worked well to bring his score to 4-2, but last year’s champion soon regained his composure and his low power shots turned the tide in his favour.

Ó Cualáin led 11-6 at the first time-out, but the time-out seemed to favour the Connemara man as he rattled out power serves to bring the score to 17-6. Hanley put up an admirable defence against the inch perfect corner serves and regained two aces in the dying stages before Ó Cualáin again got back into serve to regain his title.

The final was a great reflection of the current standard of top-level Galway Handball, sponsored this year Riteway Engineering.

The league continues for divisions one, two and three from December to February with the finals to be held as a festival of handball in late February 2019.

Moycullen Handball Open

The Moycullen Open takes place this weekend, December 14 to 16, with Martin Mulkerrins leading the Galway charge. This elite men's open ranking event will see tournament ambassador and reigning All-Ireland champion Martin Mulkerrins compete against Golden Gloves champion Diarmaid Nash and multiple All-Ireland champion Robbie McCarthy, in what promises to be an entertaining weekend of handball.

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