Cooney leads Mayo charge in semi-final showdown

Handball

Stephen Cooney heads the list of Mayo hopefuls into the second series of All-Ireland semi-finals at various venues this weekend. A former minor champion, his next logical step is to earn his senior spurs by capturing an intermediate title. Such titles are far from easily won and his showdown with the highly rated Diarmuid Nash from Clare this Sunday promises to be a top quality affair. Nash and partner Niall Malone reached the intermediate doubles final when they did just enough against Chris Doolin and Niall McGrath of Roscommon in a refixed semi-final match at Clooney on Saturday. The Cooney v Nash match is currently scheduled as the third of three games at Claremorris but may be moved to Ballaghaderreen the same afternoon.

Mayo feature in a number of other semi-final showdowns with Munster opposition and they will be hoping for better luck than in the singles two weeks ago. Tom Derrig and Sean Heany, veterans of many a battle, take on Cork duo Tony Buckley and Pat O’Brien at Moycullen on Sunday at 4pm while the same afternoon Pat Hayes and Jim Sheidan, Aidan Bell and Sean Cunnane and Tommy Flemming all make the trip to Nenagh to take on Tipperary opponents. Frank Macken and John O’Malley from the Ballinrobe Club take on Clare in the same afternoon at Shannon and then on Sunday the Bofield Club host three All-Ireland semi-finals for the first time. Masters B duo Pat Foy and Jason Judge play Kieran Noonan and Tim McDonagh from Cork in the opener at 4pm while Kevin Geraghty and Martin Cronin line out against Pat Morris and Chris Hurley as the second game. Pauline Gallagher lines out against Kerry’s Karen Lawlor as the third game, the intermediate singles, although that match may go to Ballaghaderreen along with Stephen Conney’s match.

The two confirmed semi-finals at Claremorris on Sunday feature diamond masters duo Mattie Dowd and Kevin Hanley in action against Tipperary, and the silver masters A meeting of Martin Vahey and John Staunton and Cork duo John O’Herlihy and John Hedigan. Mayo pair Ciara and Clodagh McManamon travel to Clooney in Clare on Friday night as they take on Sarah and Paula Loughnane in the junior B doubles, while the final match of the weekend of Mayo interest is in Mallow as James Towey and Joe Dowling play Cork in a very tough masters A doubles assignment.

Mayo could secure an all-too-rare All-Ireland juvenile title this Saturday at Roscommon as Newport duo Alan Ryder and Diarmuid Browne line out against Conal McCavitt and Ciaran Duffy from Armagh in the All-Ireland boys’ u17 doubles decider as the final match of a three-game programme that also sees Cathal Conneely of Roscommon in action in the boys’ u17 singles final also.

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