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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mayo’s senior handballers saw competitive action for the first time this year as the provincial singles and doubles semi-final were played last week. Dessie Keegan defeated club mate Vincent Moran very comfortably to reach the provincial senior final while Joe McCann accounted for Galway’s Ollie Conway in the other semi-final despite the loss of the opening game on an overall 16-21 , 21-6, 21-1 scoreline.
Dessie Keegan and Joe McCann’s hopes of back to back all-Ireland senior 40x20 doubles titles came unstuck in the feature event at a packed St Coman’s on Saturday evening last as the duo were comprehensively defeated by the superior Cavan pairing of Paul Brady and Michael Finnegan.
Dessie Keegan and Joe McCann’s dream of a successful defence of their All-Ireland senior doubles crown last year remains a reality, but only just. The champions emerged from Moycullen with the required semi-final victory over young pretenders Seamus O’Carroll and C J Fitzpatrick of Limerick, but the win had more to do with the Munster men’s failure to finish off the match in the second game. The Limerick duo were in devastating form in the opening game as Keegan and McCann never found any kind of form and they ran out easy winners on a 21 aces to 13 scoreline. For much of the second things were even better for the Limerick pair, who built up a commanding 13 aces to three scoreline, thanks in no small part to the outstanding performance of Seamus O’Carroll on the left side. Just when it looked that the Limerick pair were going to finish off the contest, Keegan and McCann finally got a few breaks and made a real match of it. Keegan in particular really started to impose himself on the contest while McCann was always alive to any danger down the right. The Mayo duo forged ahead and took the second on a 21 aces to 16 scoreline. The loss of the second game effectively signalled the end of the courageous Limerick challenge and to their credit Keegan and McCann made the most of the chances they got and they dominated the deciding third, winning it easily in the end.
Mayo featured in a number of all-Ireland 40x20 semi-finals against Leinster opposition last weekend, and while there was the odd success, it was the Leinster champions who were the better for the exchanges.