Sunday, August 19, 2012

Heartbreak for Sligo handball players in All-Ireland finals

Martin Cooney runner-up in Silver Masters B singles All-Ireland 60 x 30 final

There was no joy for Sligo players in 4 All-Ireland finals last weekend, writes Michael McGee.

On Saturday in Ballymoe Roscommon Paddy Walsh lost out to Dublin’s Mick O’ Brien in the final of the Over 70’s while reigning champion in the Golden Masters grade Francis Mc Cann met Kildare’s Michael Dowling for the 2nd time this year in an All-Ireland final. In an pulsating match that ebbed and flowed throughout both players had periods of dominance. Dowling took the all important first game by the minimum 21-20. McCann had to chase the 2nd game but as with the 40 x 20 final last March Dowling held firm despite McCann’s valiant comeback that just fell short. Dowling edged out in front in game 2 and held it to the finish taking it by 21-15.

The following day in Williamstown Galway Castleconnor club man Martin Cooney was expected to do well against Limerick’s John Frazer. However it was the Limerick man that made the better use of chances that came his way that ultimately led to victory for the Treaty man. Frazer took an early 8-1 lead but Cooney hit back in tremendous form reeling off a number of great winning scores. Cooney was within 5 points of Frazer at 10-15 however the Munster champion gained the next six scores to take game one. Cooney had the better start in game two going into an 8-2 lead and looked on course that he could take that second game. Frazer rallied strongly and drew level at 12-12. A determined Cooney pushed out in front again by 17-14 but the Limerick man showed great resilience when drawing level at 17 & 18. It turned out to be a terrific contest. It was to prove the Limerick man’s day as he scored the next 3 winners to claim victory from the clutches of the Castleconnor club man in the end by 21-18.

Cooney’s club mate Aoife Quinn suffered more final anguish in an All-Ireland this time in the 60 x 30 finale. Quinn faced Kerry’s Michaela O’Donaghue in the Girls U-15 singles final in Tuamgraney Co. Clare. The Munster champion took the opening game by 15-5. Quinn coached by her father Oisin came out strongly in the second and played some exceptional handball controlling the game eventually taking it by 15-6. O’Donoghue’s fitness told in the tie breaker as she weathered the Sligo girls gusto performance. O’ Donoghue who had a tough Munster & All-Ireland semi-final campaign made it count in the closing stages. Quinn tired towards the end and O’Donoghue was not going to be denied victory. The Castleconnor & Sligo star is getting closer to the coveted All-Ireland handball title and in 2013 she should achieve an historic title for her efforts that is richly deserved.

Results: Martin Donnelly All-Ireland 60 x 30 championships finals
Over 70’s singles: Paddy Walsh (Sligo) lost to Mick O’ Brien (Dublin) 13-21, 5-21.
Golden Masters A singles: Francis McCann (Sligo) lost to Michael Dowling (Kildare) 20-21, 15-21
Silver Masters B singles: Martin Cooney (Sligo) dft John Frazer (Limerick) 11-21, 18-21
All-Ireland Juvenile 60 x 30 championships finals
Girls U-15 Singles: Aoife Quinn (Sligo) lost to Michaela O’Donoghue (Kerry) 15-5, 6-15, 15-6

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