Ricky Assignment for Carroll
Four intriguing quarter finals are anticipated this weekend as the GAA All-Ireland 40×20 senior handball championships is whittled down to the final four.
One player from the last eight who has caught the eye this term has been former minor champion, Meath’s Brian Carroll who cruised in his previous matches against quality opposition. In the round of 32 he served and killed better than he has in previous years and his composed nature on court helped him ease past Tyrone’s Darragh Daly 21-12, 21-4 to set up a last 16 encounter with Gavin Buggy (Wexford).
Buggy, a powerful athlete who holds the current world over 35 crown, like Daly, found Carroll’s accurate shooting and error free approach too hot to handle and bowed out 21-6, 21-8. “I really wanted to win against Gavin (Buggy) as he has beaten me a few times over the last few years so I was pumped up for that game. I just kept the pressure on him from the start and tried to maintain that intensity until the final point. I didn’t want to let him get on a role as he can be very dangerous when he gets going. I was delighted to beat him and was happy with the way I played,” said the genial Carroll.
Carroll at 23 has already amassed two senior doubles gongs in the big court alongside fellow club ace, Tom Sheridan but must now be gunning for a first semi-final singles spot in the smaller code. Standing between him and the last four is the experienced Ricky McCann from Antrim. McCann has played and mixed it with the best players the world over, but may not possess the same phenomenal high levels of fitness he once exhibited. “I’m looking forward to playing Ricky. I feel that I’m playing well and I hope I can continue playing well this weekend. It’s all on the day and I know that if I am going to win I will have to play at my best. Ricky is a great athlete and handballer so it won’t be easy to beat him.”
McCann’s win over Tipperary’s Ger Coonan was equally imposing and both players go into this weekend’s contest at Kingscourt with the firm belief that they can advance.
The remaining quarter final scheduled for the Cavan venue brings together an all Breffni affair with the record breaking Paul Brady up against his doubles partner, Michael Finnegan. Both know each other’s game as well as their own at this stage and even though Finnegan seriously troubled the eight time Irish victor in last season’s Ulster semi-final and is playing superb powerful attacking handball, it’s difficult to see anything other than a Brady win.
In the west of the country, Mayo’s Joe McCann takes on Clare’s Diarmaid Nash in Moycullen, Galway. McCann has been around the block for a while now but ironically looks to be finding his best form. Ranked at three in his highest position in the National standings after notable wins since the beginning of the 40×20 campaign, he finds himself nearing a first senior 40×20 semi-final.
Nash came to prominence in the top grade after ousting Armagh’s Charlie Shanks in the opening round of the Irish Nationals in 2011 before going on to reach the final only to lose out to Westmeath’s Robbie McCarthy.
McCarthy has since secured the US Open of handball in California last October and at least on paper he seems to be the only significant threat to halt an eighth successive title for Brady.
He does however face an old rival who is both lightening quick and experienced in Wicklow’s Michael Gregan. McCarthy dominated the last ranking event in January at Ballaghadereen but Gregan was playing at a very high level at the same tournament before withdrawing due to injury.
A thrilling contest lies in store in Leixlip and even though a Wicklow victory may be on the cards, few would bet against the number 2 seed from advancing and continuing his hunt for the only senior title which currently eludes him.
Meanwhile the Ladies Open championship will see a comprehensive round of matches on Sunday in whaty is undoubtedly the most competitive series ever in the event. Kerry’s Maria Daly will begin her challenge for a three-in-a-row in the event in Cappagh with major action in venues all around the country.
GAA Handball O’Neills All Ireland 40X20 Mens Open Singles Championship 2012
Quarter-Finals: Saturday 25th February 2012
Brian Carroll (Meath) v Ricky McCann (Antrim) Kingscourt, Ct 1, 5pm
Paul Brady (Cavan) v Michael Finnegan (Cavan) Kingscourt, Ct 1, 6.15pm
Joe McCann (Mayo) v Diarmaid Nash (Clare) Moycullen 5pm
Michael Gregan (Wicklow) v Robbie McCarthy (Westmeath) Leixlip, Kildare 5pm
GAA Handball O’Neills All Ireland 40X20 Ladies Open Singles Championship 2012
Round 2: Sunday 26th February 2012:
Maria Daly (Kerry) v Ciara Mahon (Kilkenny) Cappagh, Limerick, 3pm
Pauline Gallagher (Mayo) v Anna Spence (Kildare) Kingscourt, Cavan, 3pm
Ashley Prendiville (Kerry) v Deirdre Donohoe (Roscommon) Cappagh, Limerick, 2pm
Marianna Rushe (Roscommon) v Mary Phelan (Kilkenny) Kingscourt, Cavan, 3pm
Aisling Reilly (Antrim) v Amy Corrigan (Mayo) Kingscourt, Cavan, 2pm
Catriona Casey (Cork) w/o Katie Costello (Roscommon) W/d OFF
Lorraine Havern (Down) v Lisa McAleer (Tyrone) Eugene Quinn HC, Armagh, 2pm
Fiona Shannon (Antrim) v Leona Doolin (Roscommon) Kingscourt, Cavan, 2pm