While there was plenty of local activity with the first series of provincial finals and juvenile semi-finals occupying ball players over the weekend, many miles away in Arizona Pauline Gallagher and Stephanie Coleman, among others, were making the headlines.
Athlone IT student Gallagher pulled up a fantastic result for the Irish raiders when she successfully teamed up with fellow Athlone IT student Aoife McCarthy to secure top honours in the prestigious Ladies Open doubles title at the USHA Collegiate Championships at the ASU in Tempe, Arizona. The duo won through three qualifying rounds to reach the decider, and defeated Danielle Daskalakis and Shirley Chen from New York State University very comfortably in a one-sided final. Gallagher, from the Swinford club, had a great run in the highly competitive Ladies Open singles event also. She narrowly missed out on a place in the final following a number of qualifying victories but she lost her semi-final to eventual winner, Shauna Hilley of Tralee IT, in the tie-break third game.
Ballaghaderreen’s Stephanie Coleman won the drop-down division one A singles final for good measure. Ciaran Burke was one of the few Irish who made the trip and he lost out in the quarter-finals on the Men’s Open to eventual winner Nikolai Nahorniak of the Lake Forest College in the US.
Good weekend for Mayo on the provincial front
It was also a reasonably good week for Mayo’s handballers on the provincial front with Joe Dowling chalking up a good win over J J Farragher of Galway on a 21-15, 16 scoreline while George Miller beat Galway newcomer Gerry Lardner 21-20, 21-8 to secure the Silver masters B singles title. Joe Neary won the Emerald B final. Michael Heraty put in a fine performance in the Golden masters A final but lost out 21-17, 21-18 to Martin Conneely from Moycullen in the final at Lisacul.
Mayo took on Roscommon in a number of provincial juvenile semi-finals at Ballaghaderreen on Saturday last and the going was never easy. Darragh Cunnane pulled up the result of the day as he beat Gordon Nolan of Roscommon in a thrilling u16 singles final on a 21-9, 15-21, 11-4 scoreline, while Kiltimagh duo TJ Byrne and Shane Walsh made a brave bid for a final slot in the boys’ u16 doubles final but lost out 11-7 in the tie-break to the accomplished Colm Walsh and Conor Egan from St Coman’s. The Kiltimagh duo are eligible for the u16 grade again next year and will take all the beating. Mayo also won the u17 doubles semi-final, as Alan Ryder and Diarmuid Browne pulled off a minor surprise beating Liam Costello and Alex McDermott 21-11, 21-16, and will meet Galway in next Sunday’s final.
Donovan Cosgrove and Owen Carroll of Mayo won the u13 doubles semi-final while Mayo’s other winner on the day was Darren Langan in the u14 singles event. The finals against Galway or Sligo or Mayo opposition take place at the two court complex in St Mary’s College Galway this Sunday from 11am. Newport duo Clodagh and Ciara McManamon lost out in the All-Ireland senior girls doubles colleges final to Cork duo Catriona Casey and Aoife O’Keeffe at Mallow on Sunday.
The next generation coming through
The Inverin club hosted the provincial Cumann na mBunscoil finals on Sunday last, and while Galway schools took the lion’s share of titles, Dayna Finn representing St Aidan NS, Kiltimagh, was a worthy winner of the girls’ u11 singles title. Fiona Gilmartin and Cora Conlon of Bofield NS won the girls’ u11 doubles title for good measure, while Thomas Harrington and Niall Flemming of Cloonlyon NS and Conor Mooney and Dominic Sweeney from St Joseph’s NS Killala reached the boys’ u11 and u13 finals.