The main highlights of the weekend were the two provincial senior finals at Ballaghaderreen on Saturday. Much had been made of the all-Ballaghaderreen clash between Joe McCann and Dessie Keegan in the men’s final and a good attendance was expecting a close match. However it was clear from the off that while Keegan was on fire there was something seriously amiss with Joe McCann’s game. Keegan blitzed into a commanding 10 aces to nil lead, thanks to some powerful serving and what can be best described as a nightmare start for McCann. Although the game opened up somewhat toward the end of the first, Keegan maintained a hefty lead and won it comfortably 21 aces to six. Any hopes of a recovery by McCann in the second game were short lived as once again the impressive Keegan piled on the aces and the agony for McCann. While Joe McCann did cut the deficit to six aces at 13-7 and it looked for a brief moment that Keegan had lost his momentum this was quickly regained, as Keegan ran out a comfortable winner on a 21 aces to 9 scoreline.
Joe McCann will now face one of the qualifiers from the losers’ round played at the weekend while Keegan secures an automatic quarter-final spot.
It was a good week all round for Mayo which won all three masters’ singles provincial finals at Lisacul on Sunday. Kevin Geraghty impressed as he accounted for Galway’s Martin Conneely in the golden masters’ A final while Aidan Bell was in total command against Galway’s Willie Corcoran in the B final. Bofield’s Brendan Judge put in a top class serving master class as he beat Moycullen’s Denis Phelan to take the silver B title while there was further good news for another Bofield regular as Joe Neary secured a long overdue title when he got the better of John McMeyler from Galway in the emerald B singles final at Curraghboy. Pauric Gillard beat Tony McInerney of Galway to take the emerald A title in fine style and Joe Dowling added the masters’ B title with the easiest of victories over JJ McDonagh. John Kenny did lose out to Sligo’s Paddy Walsh in the ruby masters’ singles final at Williamstown, but that was one of the few defeats in a great weekend for Mayo handball.
Next weekend sees the second series of provincial finals and the feature will be the men’s senior decider which will be an all-Mayo affair. Campbell Brennan and Vinny Moran are expected to line out against all-Ireland champions, Dessie Keegan and Joe McCann, however the duo have to play Stephen Cooney and Ian McLoughlin in the semi-final first this week. That final programme is likely to go ahead at Ballaghaderreen this Saturday from 2pm and is likely to feature the boys’ minor doubles, the ladies’ senior singles, and possibly the meeting of Ollie Cassidy and Ollie Conway in the intermediate singles final. Mayo also contest six further masters’ doubles finals at venues to be decided on Monday.
A well attended provincial congress took place at the Claregalway Hotel on Thursday night and there were only two changes in personnel. Popular Claremorris man Tim Hughes was elected to the position of handball representative to CLG Chonnachta by a narrow margin, while John Kennedy, Ballymoe, was elected to the position of treasurer. The provincial juvenile A boys’ finals take place this Saturday at Castlebar from 11am with Mayo champions lining out against Galway or Roscommon in most grades.