Mayo duo Dessie Keegan and Joe McCann made a somewhat disappointing exit from the All-Ireland senior doubles championship as they lost out to Wexford duo Barry Goff and Colin Keeling in three games at Thurles on Saturday evening. There were hopes that the pair would at least threaten for a place in the last four of the doubles championship, and they started with great intent. This was rewarded with a fine 21 aces to 13 win in the opener that set them up nicely for victory. However matters took a turn for the worse after that initial good showing and Keegan, who had been unwell during the week, was unable to maintain the intensity of the first game and the duo paid the price, losing this second game heavily, 21 aces to 5.
The Ballaghaderreen duo did make a fight of it in the deciding third but they never came close to winning and lost on a 21 aces to 13 scoreline to end a disappointing senior softball season.
It was a different story for Mayo in the ladies’ senior semi-finals at Williamstown the same afternoon. In what must be considered a major shock, Amy Corrigan and Pauline Gallagher put in a tremendous performance to beat Roscommon sisters Marianna and Hilary Rushe in two games on a 21-8, 21-9 scoreline to reach their first ever senior ladies’ doubles final.
While it was clear that Marianna Rushe was more than a little off the pace, the overall work-rate and fitness of the Ballaghaderreen/Swinford ladies was the difference. Corrigan was rock steady on the left while Gallagher was finding the bottom of the Williamstown wall with a type of regularity the senior men would be proud of. To hold the Rushe sisters to single numbers in two games was a fine achievement on the day. Corrigan and Gallagher now meet top seeds Maria Daly and Ashley Prendiville of Kerry in the final in three weeks’ time after they saw off the challenge of another Roscommon duo, Deirdre Donohue and Leona Doolin, in a thrilling semi-final on a 21-14, 21-18 scoreline.
Connacht played Leinster in a number of home and away 60x30 semi-finals over the weekend and overall the western province fared badly. Frank Macken was Mayo’s only winner of the weekend as he narrowly defeated Kilkenny’s Eamon Purcell, 21-17, 21-18 in a thrilling match at Talbots Inch. Ian McLoughlin and Geroid Hughes were also beaten in two games in their u21 doubles semi-final at the same venue. Also out of luck were Brian McCarthy in the junior B singles and Tim Hughes in the diamond masters at Castlebar on Saturday. Despite a valiant effort, Martin Cronin lost out in his emerald masters tie to John Rossitter of Carlow on a 12-16, 15-21, 21-5 scoreline, while Martin Vahey also lost out to the impressive Canice Quigley of Kilkenny in his masters B semi.
The second series of semi-finals take place this weekend. Castlebar host four matches in all, with Frank Macken and Aidan Bell and Kevin Geraghty and Martin Cronin in masters doubles action on Saturday afternoon from 2pm, while Ian McLoughlin, Mary Duffy, and Stephie Coleman all feature in the two-match programme on Sunday from 3pm
Mayo’s young handballers contested five provincial 60x30 finals at Ballymoe on Saturday last. While former all-Ireland U15 singles champion, Jennifer Fahy put in a good first game performance against Roscommon’s Lauren O’Riordan, the Swinford youngster had to settle for second best on the day, and Darragh Cunnane was also beaten in his boys under 15 singles final by the impressive Conor Egan of Roscommon.
Mayo did win three titles. Ryan Gibbons won the u12 singles while Dominic Sweeney and Conor Mooney won a thrilling u12 doubles final and Martin Maughan from Swinford was an easy winner of the boys’ u17 singles title. The boys’ u13 final between Kieran Nally of Mayo and Ross Taheny was postponed and will be refixed this week. Mayo are also through to the All-Ireland semi-finals in boys u15 and u17 doubles next weekend against Leinster champions at Williamstown and Roscommon.
The entire handball community wish to express their sincerest sympathies to Ollie and Peter Cassidy and the Cassidy family, Swinford, on the untimely passing of their father, Peadar Cassidy, during the week. Ollie was due to line out with Ballaghaderreen’s Paul Flynn in the All-Ireland intermediate doubles semi-final at Castlebar last weekend and that match will be rescheduled for a later date.