Martin Mulkerrins suffered defeat in the All-Ireland semi-final stages of the O’Neills senior singles handball championships.
The Moycullen man won the title for the first time last year, but he was beaten by three-times champion Robbie McCarthy in a breathtaking semi-final encounter.
The opening game was nip and tuck with the players level at 3-3, 5-5 and 6-6 before the Westmeath man continued to push Mulkerrins back in the court as he opened up a 13-6 lead.
Mulkerrins' strong serving helped him gain a 15-14 lead and the players shared the next six points to make it 18-17. Two missed kill shots from the defending champion gave McCarthy a 19-18 lead before an excellent serve allowed Mulkerrins to hit a right-hand kill shot to level the match. The Westmeath player edged ahead once more before a lovely left corner fly kill saw him win the opening game 21-19.
Mulkerrins’ took an 11-5 lead in the second game, but after a timeout, McCarthy won eight straight points before the defending champion closed the gap and edged ahead 18-16. However McCarthy took a 20-18 lead and was one point away from victory when Mulkerrins produced a kill shot off a return of serve. Two excellent right-hand kill shots made it 20-20, and a final left-hand kill shot helped him win the second game 21-20.
However in the third and final game, McCarthy took the lead from the start as Mulkerrins began to feel the effects of his second game heroics. The 2016 All-Ireland champion won the third 21-6 and now faces Clare’s Diarmuid Nash in the All-Ireland final.
Five wins in Connacht doubles semi-finals
Five doubles pairings won their Connacht semi-finals as Galway will now have 10 representatives in the 40x20 Connacht doubles finals. There was success in the junior, junior B, Junior C, Over 35 B and Diamond Masters A as Galway will be represented in 10 of the 14 age categories in which Connacht finals will be contested.
Junior B Doubles: Naoise Ó Flatharta & Máirtín Seoighe (Galway ) v Danny Reilly & Alan Wrynn (Leitrim ) walkover to Galway Junior C Doubles: Paul Conneely & Fiachra Mulkerrins (Galway ) v Lose Oskov & Hugh Slevin (Sligo ) 21-10 21-8 Junior Doubles: Seamus Conneely & Conor Noone (Galway ) v Martin Rafterry & Leo Logan (Leitrim ) walkover to Galway Masters B Doubles: Joe O’Connell & Tommy Duggan (Galway ) v Michael Bruen & Gerry Coleman (Sligo ) 21-19 2-21 6-21
Over 35 B Doubles: Kieran Hanley & Patrick Ward (Galway ) v Michael Browne & Mark Murphy (Sligo ) 16-21 21-15 21-16 Diamond Masters A Doubles: William Corcoran & Michael Shaughnessy (Galway ) v Mick Murphy & Michael McMorrow (Sligo ) 21-4 9-21 21-9