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Ireland's young stars dominate in USA

January 1st, 2012

Ireland’s young stars dominate in USA

Another fantastic festive excursion to the USA for the Irish Junior GAA Handball team resulted in a clean sweep of blue ribband titles at this year’s prestigious event in Tucson, Arizona.

This is the last major international juniors event to be staged pre-World Championships 2012 and from an Irish perspective it certainly augurs well for the challenge for gold medals on home soil next October.

In the boys events from 15 & Under to 19 & Under, Ireland collected in all three events with title deciding wins over Mexico and USA in each.

Cork’s Killian Carroll cemented his status as the current World number 1 in his field with a very impressive run in the main event as the Irish captain stormed to his second successive US National crown. The Mallow clubman scored victories over Julian Armendaritz (St. Louis) 21-1, 21-6 in round 1, Hector Facio (Kansas) in the quarters by 21-3, 21-3 and in the semi finals outgunned Julio Garcia (QC, USA) by 21-8, 21-8 to set up a title showdown with Daniel Cordova (Mexico). Carroll was again in blistering form in the final too and he duly claimed the honours on a 21-14, 21-5 scoreline.

At 17 & Under, Clare’s Colin Crehan tasted his first International triumph with equally impressive precision as he overcame Mauricio Jimenez (San Jose) 21-2, 21-12 in round 1, Matthew Chu (New York) 21-8, 21-13 in the quarter finals and then enjoyed a 21-11, 21-18 victory over Anthony Collado (California) in the penultimate tie of the series. The Kilkishen clubplayer was tested strongly in the second game of the final but exhibited exceptional skill to collect the honours with a 21-3, 21-16 win over Jacob Rodriguez (Santa Barbara, USA).

Clare are definitely celebrating a golden era for youth handball in the county at present and they added a second major title courtesy of another certain star of the future in Colin Corbett. The Tulla player had wins over Carlos Espinosa (Arizona), Darragh Lyons (Ireland), Ramunas Ramanauskas by 21-7, 21-4 in the quarters and a 21-10, 21-14 win against Luis Bustos of California in the semis. His 21-13, 21-19 victory over Tyler Stoffell (Minnessota) was one of the best of the event and ensured a clean sweep for the Irish boys junior squad.

In the ladies Cork’s Catriona Casey was a very hot favourite in the Girls 19 & Under event and captained what was labelled possibly the strongest girls team ever to travel to the US event. Casey was simply in unstoppable form and her key victories over Brittyn Bidegain (San Diego), Cheryl Chen (New York), Shirley Chen (New York) and Maleyna Moriel (Texas) ensured another impressive title win for the gifted Ballydesmond teenager.

Roscommon’s Lauren O’Riordain was equally impressive and her key victory over San Diego’s Brittyn Bidegain guaranteed her the Girls 17 & Under honours while Galway’s Ciana Ní Churraoin overcame Rosita Howard (Arizona), Myroslava Koval (Calgary) and Tyrone’s Maeve McElduff to claim the Girls 15 & Under title for a second time.

Meanwhile, the trip was also a successful one for Tyrone’s Elisa McCrory who captured her first International title with a win in the Girls 13 & Under event.

In the doubles, Killian Carroll and Gabhainn McCrystall (Tyrone) were denied in the Boys 19 & Under final but Ireland did collect with 2 wins at 15 and 17 & Under. Colin Crehan made a clean sweep in the 17s when he teamed up with Cork’s Pa Herlihy to win the doubles honours, defeating Tyler Stoffell and Pol Clarke in the final 21-16, 21-5. At 15 & Under, Corbett powered to the doubles title too alongside Tyrone’s Johnny Woods after denying Meath pairing of Evan Sheridan and Robert Fox in the final.

Overall another successful international challenge from the GAA Handball squad from Ireland who will return on New Year’s Day to Dublin. From here it will then be all systems go to the World Championships in Dublin in October (11th to 21st) 2012.

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