Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Mc Cann to win All-Ireland handball title. Jason Earlis & Aoife Quinn one step away from All-Ireland Juvenile finals
Battle hardened Mc Cann to win All-Ireland title
Sligo stalwart Francis McCann will be the underdog as he takes on reigning champion in Kildare’s Michael Dowling in the Golden Masters A 40 x 20 singles decider in Curraghboy on Saturday 24th March, writes Michael McGee.
Dowling beat McCann’s Connacht final opponent Martin Conneely in straight games ( 21-17, 21-14) in last year’s final. In all his 3 competitive matches to date McCann was forced to tie breakers before finishing strongly. His Connacht final match with Galway’s Martin Conneely proved to be a real cliff hanger. The Yeats County man took the first game by 21-13. The Galwegian stormed back taking the second game leaving McCann clinging on the ropes. Thankfully Conneely could not deliver the knockout blow. McCann survived a tension filled third game. In a nail biting finish McCann somehow survived taking the match in a titanic battle with only 1 ace separating the players after 3 rigorous games. McCann survived in Connacht and two weeks ago in the All-Ireland semi-final in the Gort-na-Mona court in Belfast McCann yet again was brought to a tie breaker before securing his place in the final. The Ballymote man is looking forward to the final.
“Preparations have gone well and I have played matches against Shane Bruen & Joe Dowling in recent weeks. Last year I didn’t play in the 40 x 20 court and it is nice to be back in a final again. Twelve years ago I played my first Masters final in Curraghboy and I lost that final by 1 ace to Wexford’s Pat Cleary. I will be hoping to come out with a one point victory this time round.”
McCann’s first All-Ireland triumph came in 1977 when winning the Minor Doubles with the late Michael Porter. Thirty five years later McCann is back playing in an All-Ireland final. In all that time his hunger and appetite has never waned. McCann has demonstrated his willingness to work hard and has come back each time when he looked beaten the mark of a champion. Saturday’s final could also go to a tie breaker but who would bet against the Ballymote man achieving All-Ireland number 18 in an astonishing sporting career.
G.A.A Handball O’ Neills All-Ireland finals:
Saturday 24th March 2012, in Curraghboy, Roscommon, 4pm: Golden Masters A Singles: Francis Mc Cann (Sligo) v Michael Dowling (Kildare)
Path to the final:
Connacht semi-final: Golden Masters A singles: Francis McCann (Sligo) dft Ger Walsh (Roscommon) 21-9, 15-9, 21-9.
Connacht final: Francis McCann (Sligo) dft Martin Conneely (Galway) 21-13, 9-21, 21-20
All-Ireland semi-final: Francis McCann (Sligo) dft Thomas Maguire (Antrim) 21-17, 17-21, 21-12
Earlis & Quinn to reach All-Ireland Juvenile finals
Sligo Juvenile handball stars are in two All-Ireland semi-finals in Loughmacrory Co. Tyrone at the weekend. First into action is Castleconnor’s Aoife Quinn who faces Armagh’s Kaitlin Flevelle. Quinn received a bye in the Connacht final and automatically went straight through to the semi-final. Quinn was a member of the Connacht Girls Interprovincial team of 10 that beat Ulster in last year’s final and would have gained great experience representing the province. The Castleconnor starlet has won a number of Connacht Championships at Colleges level and will be hopeful of reaching the final.
Jason Earlis represents Sligo in the Boys U-16 singles semi-final against Monaghan’s Eugene McGeough. Earlis also from the Castleconnor Club had a fantastic win in the Connacht final last weekend defeating Mayo’s Conor Burke 9-21, 21-19, 11-8 in an exciting final. Earlis & Collooney’s Stanley Harte were within a point of reaching last year’s All-Ireland U-16 doubles final but lost out to a late Waterford winner. The Castleconnor teenager has made steady progress in the last number of years under the watchful eye of Coaches Tom Foody & Oisin Quinn. Earlis will no doubt receive another stern test from the Ulster champion but will have gained immense satisfaction and encouragment following his Connacht final success and this should stand to him as he goes in search of an All-Ireland final appearance.
All-Ireland Juvenile championships 40x 20 semi-finals
Saturday 24th March 2012, in Loughmacrory, Co Tyrone, 1pm
Girls U-15 Singles: Aoife Quinn Sligo v Kaitlin Flevelle Armagh
Boys U-16 Singles: Jason Earlis (Sligo) v Eugene McGeough Monaghan