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Keegan bids to reach senior final

It was a good week for Ballaghaderreen handballer Dessie Keegan who partnered Joe McCann to reach the last four of the all-Ireland senior doubles championship with a comfortable 21-8, 21-7 victory over Munster’s only challengers, C J Fitzpatrick and Paul Hedderman of Limerick.

Keegan and McCann bid for senior glory this weekend

On a particularly busy weekend for handball with the first series of all-Ireland adult and juvenile finals, the overall picture was one of great joy for many of Mayo’s contenders although there were some disappointments also.

Provincial title claimed by McCann

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Handball took centre stage in Roscommon town last weekend with St Coman’s handball club hosting the Connacht senior handball finals. It was an all Ballaghaderreen affair, with established star Joe McCann and up-and-coming Stephen Cooney playing for the spoils.

Two further All-Ireland titles for Mayo’s handballers

The 60x30 season concluded with the final series of finals at eight venues around the country over the weekend and Mayo handballers secured a further two title from their five contested finals.

Keegan and McCann one step away from senior glory on a great weekend for Mayo handball

On one of the busiest weekends in the 60x30 season there were some top class performances and results for Mayo’s handballers, who secured three All-Ireland titles and a place in the senior singles decider this weekend. The excellently appointed Williamstown court was packed for the two senior doubles semi-finals and ladies senior singles final last Saturday, and all three matches lived up to expectations. Dessie Keegan and Joe McCann were first up as they faced legendary 40x20 champion Paul Brady and long-time partner Michael Finnegan, in a somewhat unique pairing. Keegan and McCann beat the duo two years ago to claim their one and only senior doubles title in the 40x20. Keegan and McCann started at a blistering pace, with McCann in particular on top form, and with the Cavan men struggling to come to terms with the power and killing ability of the Mayo duo the opening game was won impressively 21 aces to 9. In the second Keegan and McCann looked to close out the contest as they led 13 aces to 3 at one stage. However a determined fight back from Brady and Finnegan soon had matters level at 14 aces all. The Mayo duo should have pushed on from there but they let matters slip further and lost this game 21-16. Any concerns that the Mayo camp might have had in the deciding third were swiftly allayed as Keegan and McCann once again found their feet and they ran out comfortable enough winners, 21 aces to 10, to book a place in Saturday’s final. The second semi-final was a also a thrilling affair and it saw Wexford duo Gavin Buggy and Colin Keeling get the better of Kilkenny’s Michael Ducksy Walsh and Michael Clifford on a 21-18, 18-21, 21-4 scoreline.

Senior title for Corrigan and Gallagher

Mayo’s Amy Corrigan and Pauline Gallagher secured a hard-earned first ever senior ladies 60x30 all-Ireland title against hot favourites and reigning champions, Maria Daly and Ashley Prendiville at Abbeylara on Saturday afternoon last. However Mayo’s Dessie Keegan failed in his bid to reach a first ever men’s senior singles at the same venue.

Great week for senior handballers

It was a busy and hugely successful week for both Mayo men’s and ladies’ senior doubles handballers. Last Friday evening at Mullingar Dessie Keegan and Joe McCann defeated Kilkenny duo Nicholas and Ger Anthony 21-14, 21-17. Two days later they made the trip to the same venue to take one the 2009 All-Ireland senior doubles champions and the duo that denied them a first title, Eoin Kennedy and Egin Jensen, in the quarter-finals. The Ballaghaderreen club men put in one of their finest performances to date to secure the semi-final spot in a somewhat one-sided contest. The Mayo duo won the opener 21 aces to 4, a scoreline few would have believed possible a year or two ago, and they led 9 aces to 1 in the second. Kennedy and Jensen did mount a spirited comeback but it was short lived as Keegan and a rejuvenated McCann closed out this game on a 21 aces to 14 scoreline. While the result was by no means a shock, beating the senior doubles champions of two years ago still ranks a fine scalp. However if that result surprised some it was nothing in comparison to the second quarter-final which saw reigning All-Ireland champions, Meath duo Tom Sheridan and Brian Carroll, dumped out of the championship by the hugely impressive Paul Brady and Michael Finnegan of Cavan in a thrilling contest on a 21-14, 21-15 scoreline. Keegan and McCann now meet the Cavan men in the semi-final in three weeks’ time. Next up for Keegan is a singles quarter-final meeting with Ducksy Walsh at Abbeylara this Saturday at 2pm, and judging by his current form the Mayo man would be expected to progress.

Provincial champions under way this weekend

The provincial colleges and national intervarsities were the main events of note last weekend. Pauline Gallagher representing Athlone IT picked up the ladies’ A singles title with a 21-6, 21-14, win over fellow Mayo student Amy Corrigan of the Sligo IT. Claremorris and St Mary’s College, Galway, were the venues for the boys’ and girls’ second level colleges over the weekend. The going was particularly tough in the eight boys’ grades but true to form, Kiltimagh duo T J Byrne and Shane Walsh from St Louis’, Kiltimagh, secured the junior doubles title with a reasonably comfortable win over Flanngan and Michéal Kenny, Castlerea CS, in their semi-final, and John Lalor and Conor Noone from St Mary’s in a well-contested final. Despite some fine performances, Mayo lost out to Galway and Roscommon in the other grades contested. In the girls’ finals at Claremorris, Melanie Nally was beaten by all-Ireland u16 champion Lauren O’Riordan in her junior singles semi-final, while Lorraine and Louise Gilmartin (Convent of Mercy, Ballina,) suffered the same fate in their junior doubles final.

European title for Pauline Gallagher

Pauline Gallagher and Dessie Keegan were among the eight strong Irish men’s and ladies’ teams who competed in the one-wall Federations Cup in Imperia, Italy, last weekend. The Irish women lost in qualifying to Holland and Puerto Rico but qualified for the consolation ELA club. The Irish team saw off the challenge of the Basque Country and France to take the title in style. The team also included Roscommon’s Marianna Rushe, Kerry’s Ashley Prendiville, and Down’s Lorraine Havern. Dessie Keegan helped team mates Charly Shanks (Armagh), James Doyle (Antrim), and Robbie McCarthy (Westmeath) to a fifth place finish in the men’s team event following qualifying wins over France and Mexico. However the Irish lost their quarter-final to Puerto Rico. Twenty teams in all competed in the annual one-wall team tournament.

All-Ireland joy at last for Macken but Mayo girls lose out

The good news story of the week came by way of Ballinrobe handballer Frank Macken, who finally got his hands on a richly deserved All-Ireland medal. Williamstown on Saturday afternoon last was the setting for Frank’s finest hour as he and a fine attendance settled in for the All-Ireland golden masters B singles final against the well-regarded Pat Donnellan for Clare. Macken started well and was never really troubled in the opening game and he secured this one impressively 21 aces to 12. The second was a much tougher affair as Donnellan began to find his feet and the Clare man was making life difficult for the Galway based garda. Macken trailed for much of the game but his superior fitness and determination saw him take the lead at 17 aces to 16 although this on went down to the wire, as a relieved Macken added the second on a 21 aces to 17 scoreline. The win was well deserved and hard-earned but the hours of work put in yielded the desired result on the day. Macken has a decent chance of a second title this weekend as he teams up with Claremorris native Aidan Bell in the doubles final against Donnellan and Stephen McInerney once again at Williamstown this Saturday from 3pm.

 

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