Two All-Ireland Titles for Mayo as Keegan and McCann reach senior final

Handball

Dessie Keegan and Joe McCann’s dream of a successful defence of their All-Ireland senior doubles crown last year remains a reality, but only just. The champions emerged from Moycullen with the required semi-final victory over young pretenders Seamus O’Carroll and C J Fitzpatrick of Limerick, but the win had more to do with the Munster men’s failure to finish off the match in the second game. The Limerick duo were in devastating form in the opening game as Keegan and McCann never found any kind of form and they ran out easy winners on a 21 aces to 13 scoreline. For much of the second things were even better for the Limerick pair, who built up a commanding 13 aces to three scoreline, thanks in no small part to the outstanding performance of Seamus O’Carroll on the left side. Just when it looked that the Limerick pair were going to finish off the contest, Keegan and McCann finally got a few breaks and made a real match of it. Keegan in particular really started to impose himself on the contest while McCann was always alive to any danger down the right. The Mayo duo forged ahead and took the second on a 21 aces to 16 scoreline. The loss of the second game effectively signalled the end of the courageous Limerick challenge and to their credit Keegan and McCann made the most of the chances they got and they dominated the deciding third, winning it easily in the end.

Keegan and McCann make the short trip to Roscommon this Saturday for the final against Paul Brady and Michael Finnegan, who were easy winners of the other semi-final, and one would hope that last Saturday’s experience will stand them in good stead for what will be an even more demanding assignment against the Cavan duo who will be itching for revenge for the loss of the title in last year’s final.

Moycullen also proved to be a happy hunting ground for under 21 doubles duo Stephen Cooney and Ian McLoughlin who, as expected, clinched their first title in the grade at the expense of game Cork duo Tadhg Carroll and John O’Keeffe. The Mayo duo were in top form and they needed to be as Carroll and O’Keeffe were two very useful handballers. While the 21-14, 21-14 scoreline might suggest it was a relatively comfortable win for Cooney and McLoughlin, they always seemed to be in control of the situation and it was a fine win for a duo eligible for this grade for two more years.

Amy Corrigan’s dream of a minor singles title came unstuck in the opening match at Moycullen against Cork challenger Catriona Casey. Corrigan played a great opening game and Casey was under pressure throughout and Corrigan won this one 21 aces to 14. However, in the second things seemed to go against Corrigan as Casey started to kill the ball with more regularity. The Cork challenger secured the second impressively 21 aces to 10 and forged on from there to take the third and the title on a 21 aces to 13 scoreline.

The weekend sees the conclusion of the 40x20 championship with the senior doubles the third of three games at Roscommon on Saturday from 4pm, which also includes the minor doubles between Galway and Limerick and the ladies’ senior singles final between Kerry and Antrim. Amy Corrigan and Leona Ryder line out in the minor doubles final against Cork duo Catriona Casey and Aisling O’Keeffe as the second game at Moycullen on Sunday at 12.30pm, while Stephen Cooney takes on Tipperary’s Fergal Collins in what should be a cracking under 21 singles final on the same card. Joe Dowling and James Towey get proceedings under way at Abbeylara at 1pm on Sunday as they take on Antrim duo Kieran O’Hare and Tony Delvin in the All-Ireland masters B doubles final.

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