Frank Macken, fresh from his All-Ireland singles success of last week, added the doubles title with partner Aidan Bell in the All-Ireland golden masters’ doubles final at a packed Williamstown on Saturday afternoon last, once again facing Clare contenders Pat Donnellan and Stephen McInerney as the opening match of a two match card at the Galway venue, got off to a great start.
With both Macken and Bell in determined form the Clare duo had little to offer in this opening game and the Mayo duo wrapped up the first game for the loss of just seven aces. The Clare duo did their best to make a game of it in the second but Bell and Macken stuck well to their task and sealed a memorable win by taking the second comfortably enough on a 21 aces to 13 scoreline. It was also a significant victory for Aidan Bell, who suffered two serious health scares earlier in the year only to come back and realise a life-long dream of winning an All-Ireland 60x30 title. Macken for his part has been an example to all master’s handballers in the manner in which he never gave up hope of winning a title despite so many failed efforts at provincial and national level.
Sligo duo Paddy Walsh and Hollymount native Mick Kelly secured the ruby masters’ title at the expense of Cork at the same venue and, like Macken and Bell, they would have been forgiven for hanging up their handball boots. These two local victories bring the curtain down on a less than spectacular year in 60x30 for Mayo, or indeed any of the Connacht counties, and it is clear that at national level the competition is still as stiff as ever for All-Ireland medals.
All bar one of the various provincial colleges titles were decided over the weekend but Mayo drew a disappointing blank in all matches contested. Jennifer Fahy of Scoil Muire agus Padraig lost out in two games to eventual champion Lauren O’Riordan from the Convent of Mercy, Roscommon, in the girls’ junior singles final, while Pauraic Ryder from Carrowbeg College, Westport, gave a fine account against All-Ireland minor singles champion Martin Mulkerrins of St Mary’s, Galway, in the senior singles final, but lost out on a 21-14, 21-9 scoreline.