Mulkerrins forced to dig deep to win All Ireland handball crown

Moycullen's Diarmuid Mulkerrins, winner of the All-Ireland U21 40x20 Handball title receives his medal from Joe Masterson, GAA Handball president.

Moycullen's Diarmuid Mulkerrins, winner of the All-Ireland U21 40x20 Handball title receives his medal from Joe Masterson, GAA Handball president.

Moycullen's Diarmuid Mulkerrins won the All-Ireland U21 40x20 handball title in Kingscourt, Co Cavan, at the weekend.

In a two-hour epic battle with Kildare's Kevin Diggins, Mulkerrins produced an incredible come back to win the tie breaker by the slimmest of margins, 21-20.

Diggins had narrowly pipped game one 21-19, but Mulkerrins took the second 21-15, forcing the match to a tiebreaker. And what a thriller it proved to be.

Despite taking the first two points, the Moycullen man trailed 5-14 in the decider. However, digging deep, the Galway player narrowed the gap 12-15. However, a surge from Diggins put him within two points of the title at 19-13 ahead, and it looked all but over for Mulkerrins who, despite a cramp, showed tremendous character to defend match point at 18-20. After regaining serve, he made a single ace to reach 19, then lost serve and successfully defended match point again.

A flat kill from the Tribesman levelled the match at 20 each, and serving for the match, Mulkerrins went low to his opponent's left, a short rally ensued and a perfectly placed passing shot saw Mulkerrins clinch the title 21-20.

In so doing Diarmuid emulated his brother Martin who won back-to-back U21 titles in 2013 and 2014.

He now has a chance to slam the U21 grade, if he and his doubles partner Cian O'Conghaile (Michael Breathnachs ), win the doubles title. They are already through to the semi-finals against Ulster opponents.

The duo are bidding to make history by becoming the first Galway pair to win the 40x20 doubles title, adding to their exploits last November when they made history by becoming the first Galway pair to win the U21 big alley, 60x30, crown.

Diarmuid is also pairing up with older brother Martin in the men's senior doubles championship series over the next few weeks.

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