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Three All Ireland doubles titles for Tyrone
This weekend will see the climax of the All Ireland 40×20 handball championships for 2023 with the staging of the masters doubles semi finals and finals in Croke Park and Tyrone will have two doubles teams involved.
It hasn’t been the most spectacular 40×20 championship season for Tyrone players on the national stage but pride was certainly restored with the capture of three All Ireland doubles titles in recent weeks, including two memorable triumphs at the new Croke Park handball centre last weekend.
Prior to last weekend, Loughmacrory teenagers Laura Duff and Lucy McCullagh had been Tyrone’s only success story in the All Ireland juvenile championship finals and Tyrone had also emerged empty-handed from the adult singles finals in Kingscourt.
But that impressive All Ireland U16 doubles win by Laura and Lucy has now been complemented by two superb results last weekend when Tyrone clinched an impressive double victory in the mens and ladies junior grades as the new Croke Park Centre finally opened its doors.
Caitlin Conway and Elizabeth McGarvey had actually lifted the U16 doubles title back in 2017, the same title that Laura and Lucy took home last month, and they have now moved on up the ranks by securing a fabulous All Ireland junior doubles success at the weekend following two gripping ties against Clare and Wexford which took serious character to win.
And the very same character and skill was displayed by Carrickmore duo Paddy McCrory and Cahir Munroe who came through two epic matches against Waterford and Galway to lift the Mens junior doubles title.
Caitlin and Elizabeth had to come through two serious challenges to capture the gold medals in the ladies junior grade as they initially had to see off Munster champions Leah Manogue and Amber Nolan from Clare on Saturday in a nail-biting contest which produced a 21-18, 20-21, 11-9 scoreline.
The drama continued in Croke Park on Sunday as Caitlin and Elizabeth took on the formidable Wexford pairing of Holly Hynes and Cora Doyle in the All Ireland decider and what a match that one turned out to be as well.
The girls produced some outstanding handball in the opening game as Tyrone had to overturn a 20-16 deficit to clinch an exciting 21-20 win and, after losing the second game 21-6, the Tyrone duo stepped up their efforts again in another gripping tiebreaker to triumph on a scoreline of 11-7.
It was a fabulous effort by Caitlin and Elizabeth as the Loughmacrory/ Breacach combination were crowned worthy junior doubles champions.
Carrickmore pairing Paddy McCrory and Cahir Munroe pulled off a superb mens junior doubles success last weekend, the lads also having to come through a couple of thrilling encounters to take the honours.
On Saturday they were impressive winners over Munster champions Waterford winning 21-16, 21-8 but it was a different story on Sunday as they had to survive a serious test against Galway’s Seamus Conneelly and Conor Noone but they rose to the occasion in style.
After prevailing in a ding dong battle in game one with a 21-18 scoreline, they found themselves behind for most of game two and had to fight so hard to come through seriously long rallies before clinching the title on a score of 21-20.
It was a brilliant performance by the Carmen lads and an exciting way to get their hands on the title.
Ryan Mullan and Caolan Daly were Tyrone’s representatives in the intermediate doubles but went down to eventual winners Cork at the semi final stage, while Clare Conway and Erin Connolly also bowed out at the semi final stage in the ladies junior b doubles.
This weekend Tyrone will be represented by the Kerr brothers, Niall and Conor, in the Emerald masters doubles semi final against Limerick and by the McCrory brothers, Seamus and Eamon, in the silver masters b doubles semi final against Clare.
All Ireland 40×20 championship final results…
Ladies Junior semi final:
Caitlin Conway & Elizabeth McGarvey (Tyrone) dft. Leah Minogue & Amber Nolan (Clare) 21-18, 20-21, 11-9
Ladies Junior Final: Caitlin Conway & Elizabeth McGarvey (Tyrone) dft. Cora Doyle & Holly Hynes (Wexford) 21-19, 6-21, 11-7
Mens Junior semi final:
Patrick McCrory & Cahir Munroe (Tyrone) dft. Kavan O Keefe & Anthony Fitzgerald (Waterford) 21-16, 21-8
Mens Junior Final: Patrick McCrory & Cahir Munroe (Tyrone) dft. Seamus Conneely & Conor Noone (Galway) 21-18, 21-20
Girls U16D semi final:
Laura Duff & Lucy McCullagh (Tyrone) dft. Lucy Gould & Lucy Slattery (Tipperary) 21-4, 21-6
Girls U16D final:
Laura Duff & Lucy McCullagh (Tyrone) dft. Mia O Connell & Jenny Saunders (Kilkenny) 21-16, 21-12