The main weekend action concerned trials in various grades for the Irish team who travel to Chicago to compete in the USHA Junior Nationals championships at the end of December.
Galway featured in a number of events and while all performed to the best of their ability two young handballers in particular did themselves and their clubs proud.
Cianna Ni Churraoin from Inverin and Roisin Ni Chonghaile from Moycullen were two of the six contenders in the girls 15 and under trail which concluded at Crinkle on Sunday night. Ni Chonghaile lost out in her opening game to top Kilkenny youngster Ciara Mahon on a very respectable 21-12, 21-8 scoreline, while Ni Churraoin had the expected easy win over Kilkenny’s Mary Phelan in her opener. In the Sunday semi-finals, Ni Churraoin defeated top Limerick star Martin McMahon when she won the first game 21 aces to 17, and McMahon, who was not feeling well, conceded the second. Roscommon’s Lauren O’Riordan won the other semi-final to set up an all-Connaught final. In a contest which thrilled the surprisingly large attendance, including handball legend Michael Ducksy Walsh, Ni Churraoin narrowly won the opening game 21 aces to 18, however O’Riordan easily secured the second 21 aces to 8 for force the contest to a tie-break decider to 11 aces.
O’Riordan served out game ball at 10 aces to 9 but could not make the crucial 11th ace. Ni Churraoin secured the remarkable victory by a solitary ace at the death.
Both Seamus O’Conghaile and World boys 17 and under champion, Martin Mulkerrins were entrants in the boys’ 17 and under trials. O Conghaile lost out to the All-Ireland boys 60x30 champion in his first game while Mulkerrins beat Christopher Philpott from Clare in his opening game. Mulkerrins then accounted for Monaghan’s Terry McElvanney in the quarterfinal before getting the better of Dean Corrigan from Wexford in a thrilling semi-final in three games on an overall 21-13, 16-21, 11-2 scoreline. Mulkerrins faces the impressive and talented Killian Carrol from Cork in the boy’s 17 and under final next Sunday at Cappagh at 12:00 noon.
The provincial finals in the three club competitions were played during last week. Salthill will represent Galway and Connaught in the junior event after they recorded a surprisingly easy win over Mayo champions, Newport at Invern while St. Coman’s Roscommon are through in junior B and Ballaghaderreen did just enough to edge out St. Coman’s in the senior division.
The Connaught ladies are in action this weekend also in handballs only Interprovincial team competition. The Interprovincial Team of Ten will feature Galway starlets Shannon Keady, Cianna Ni Churraoin, Mary Fahy and Roisin Ni Chonghaile who will be joined by other top Mayo and Roscommon youngsters. Connaught are the reigning All-Ireland champions in 40x20 but are expected to face stiff opposition particularly from Munster if they are to retain their title.