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Further Handball Success

Tuesday 30.08.2011
Team Talk Mag

Juveniles progress to All Ireland Finals

The hard work put in by the players and coaches over the past 3 months to improve the standard of 60×30 handball in Tyrone was handsomely rewarded at the weekend when they battled their way to four All Ireland finals and the possibility of another still to come.

Aoife Kelly started the run of success by beating Kildare’s Hannah Dagg in under fourteen singles. However her chances looked slim when she lost the opening game 15-14 and trailed 8-zero in the second but she stuck to the task and gradually got into the game and managed to sneak the second 15-12 to level the match. From that point Aoife took complete control of the match and raced to a 15-2 win to secure her spot in the final against Roscommon’s Fiona Tully.

Tyrone’s next success came in the under 15 doubles where Johnny Woods and Ryan Mullan defeated Meath pair Robert Fox and Dylan Sheridan again in a three setter. Woods hampered by a leg injury and Mullan started slowly and were always playing catch-up in a game they lost 15-13.They were much improved in the second game and with Woods now playing on the left and Mullan more at home on the right  they levelled the match with a 15-11 win. The match now seemed to be firmly in their grasp but a couple of bad mistakes together with some fine play by Fox and Sheridan saw them sink to a 12 nil deficit and seemingly on their way out. A couple of cracking kill shots by Woods got the Tyrone pair onto the scoreboard and gave them renewed hope and as they gradually reduced the deficit the Meath lads imploded and failed to score again as Woods and Mullan completed a remarkable turnaround to win 15-12. Waterford pair Jamie Joyce and Ciaran O Neill provide their All Ireland final opposition.

Pol Clarke and Gabhainn Mc Crystall completed a great day for Tyrone by winning the under 17 doubles match against Dublin’s Cain O Dalaigh and Corey Fay in two straight games .There was never much between two evenly matched pairs in the first game with the lead changing hands on many occasions. However the Tyrone lads were the more composed pair and took the lead with a well deserved 21-17 win. Dublin started strongly in the second with Fay’s overhand serve giving Clarke and McCrystall a serious amount of bother and with O Dalaigh punishing the set-ups the Leinster champions looked to be in an unassailable position when they held a 15 point to 5 lead.

To their credit the Tyrone pair didn’t give the game up and managed to work their way back into contention with some fine attacking play. As the scores drew closer it was the Dubliners who began to feel the pressure and only managed to add one further point to their total as Clarke and Mc Crystall secured a hard fought but well deserved victory 21-16 to advance to the All Ireland final against Cork’s Daniel Relihan and Michael Hedigan.

Tyrone’s other All Ireland Finalist is Meave McElduff who received a walk over in her semi-final and if Sean Kerr and Aaron Owens can win their refixed under 14 doubles match against Wexford’s Oisin Foley and Tomas Hall the total will rise to 5 finalists. This is the first time in many years that Tyrone will have such a high representation in the 60×30 Finals.

O Neill Bounces Back

Shane O Neill recovered from the disappointment of losing in the All Ireland semi final of the junior doubles to reach the singles final with an impressive display in Castlebridge Co Wexford at the weekend. O Neill and partner Barry Devlin had a great chance to make it to the doubles final especially as they had home advantage in Loughmacrory but unfortunately they put in a below par performance and were beaten in two straight games 21-15 21-17 by Offaly’s David Hope and Michael O Brien.

O Neill who has made a serious effort to improve his game in the 60×30 court made the long journey to Castlebridge to play hot favourite Paul Lambert and came away with a hard earned victory. O Neill played controlled handball throughout the match keeping unforced errors to a minimum and it was this along with his superior fitness that propelled him to a 21-13 10-21 21-8 win and a place in the All Ireland Final against Cork’s Brendan Fleming. The Corkonian was very impressive in overcoming Roscommon’s Denis Creaton 21-5 21-15 in the other semi.

Both O Neill and Fleming are predominantly exponents of the 40×20 game so it is quite an achievement for them to be in the final and if Shane can repeat the display that saw off Lambert he has a great chance of adding another National title to his list successes.


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