Sunday, September 25, 2011
All-Ireland handball titles for Francis McCann, John McLoughlin & Michael McMorrow
McCann the handball wizard weaves his magic
In a great weekend of handball action Sligo players collected 2 All-Ireland handball titles with the Emerald Masters B doubles pairing of John McLoughlin & Michael McMorrow defeating Kilkenny in a thrilling final writes Michael McGee.
Ballymote’s Francis Mc Cann claimed his 17th All-Ireland handball title when he defeated Cavan’s Mickeleen Brady in a hard fought Golden Masters A singles played in Roscommon on Sunday last.
McCann had to dig deep before seeing the challenge of the Cavan man on a scoreline of 21-11, 21-13. McCann had the better start taking an early 7-2 lead. Brady from the Mullaghoran Club in Cavan tested McCann to the full and gave the Sligo man much to think about. Brady came back strongly to be only 13-9 behind. McCann upped the tempo and kept Brady away from the front wall where the Cavan man was dangerous got many winners in the left corner. Brady could only manage 2 further scores as McCann ended game one with an ace to Brady right corner to take the 1st game by 21-11.
The Cavan man pushed McCann all the way in the second with scores level at 7,8, and 12. McCann then opened up a 17-12 lead one of those points was a 55 foot kill cheered on by the large Sligo support in the gallery. It was only now that McCann could relax and show off his great skills. At each opportunity he pushed Brady to the back court with strong passing shots to Brady’s left and right corner. With 2 great hands and accurate serving the Sligo man took control. McCann took his All-Ireland medal collection to 17 with another serve that Brady failed to return. McCann’s win was witnessed by many young players from Ballymote who witnessed the master in action. McCann’s win will do wonders for handball in his club and in the county. One of the all time greats in Sligo handball his skill, dedication and relentless work rate have been the hallmarks of McCann’s outstanding contribution since winning his All-Ireland medal - a minor doubles championship with club mate Michael Porter in 1977. Thirty-four years later the magician continues to weave his magic.
Doubles delight for McLoughlin & McMorrow
Sligo handball supporters finally had something to celebrate with the Sligo doubles pairing of John McLoughlin & Michael McMorrow dramatic win over Kilkenny’s Jim Dooley & Gerry Murphy in the Emerald Masters B doubles final played in Crinkle on Friday evening last.
The Kilkenny men went in as favourites but the Yeats County men matched them all the way before killing off Kilkenny’s fight back with a stunning finish.
It was the Connacht Champions that got of to a flying start with an opening 7 point salvo. Kilkenny’s Dooley & Murphy hit back almost immediately to reduce Sligo’s lead to 7-3. McMorrow and in particular the influential John McLoughlin hit the front and with some expert finishing and held a 15-7 advantage. Kilkenny came more into the game but McLoughlin & McMorrow held firm eventually wrapping up game 1 comfortably by 21-12.
Kilkenny settled quickly in the 2nd and piled on the pressure on McMorrow & McLoughlin when leading by 12-7. The Sligo men recovered well and fought back to be on level terms at 17. However they could not add to their tally despite opportunity’s coming their way. It was Kilkenny that finished strongly bringing the final to a deciding 3rd game.
In the final game the powerfully built McMorrow began to bombard the Kilkenny men with some thundering kills and working well inside. John McLoughlin’s great defensive play and long overhand returns put Sligo into the driving seat when leading by 8-0. Kilkenny threatened with 4 points to keep them in the contest. McLoughlin’s pinpoint serving to Dooley’s right side opened up Kilkenny’s frailties and into a commanding 18-13 lead. Kilkenny’s last throw of the dice came with 2 serves. Two long rallies was played out with Kilkenny’s brave last stand came to nought with McLoughlin 2 deadly kills in response coolness personified from the Collooney club man. McMorrow delivered the killer blows with 3 precision aces to Murphy’s left side that the Kilkenny man didn’t return. It was a first title for the Sligo pair and ended years of heartbreak. For their persistence alone McMorrow & McLoughlin deserved their All-Ireland medals