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Tyrone players thriving in Ulster handball finals…
Tyrone enjoyed a great weekend in the Ulster handball championships as players from Breacach, Loughmacrory and Carrickmore achieved some outstanding results against fancied opponents, and some defending champions, in the 2013 adult singles finals.
A total of seven Tyrone players won provincial singles deciders, a big increase on last year’s medal haul, with the winning sequence beginning last Wednesday evening courtesy of Gabhain McCrystall in the Ulster minor championship.
Gabhain went into the Ulster minor final as the challenger, with title holder Darren Doherty representing serious opposition, but the young Breacach star produced a stunning performance to take the title off the Monaghan player in two exciting, closely contested games, producing some really smart play to oust the favourite.
It was an outstanding achievement by Gabhain who has been at the top of his game in recent weeks and his next target now will be to add the doubles title as he teams up with Pol Clarke this Sunday to face fellow Tyrone players, Johnny Woods and Patrick McCrory.
Armagh was the busiest venue last Saturday with four finals taking place, a programme which eventually took seven and a half hours to sort out. Tyrone had representation in all four fixtures and incredibly, despite the formidable opposition, every encounter produced a Tyrone victory.
The first final on the card was Mark McCullagh’s junior b singles clash with the fancied Sean Digney from Down and after two and a half hours of action, the Loughmacrory man was celebrating a superb win following a 21-18 tiebreaker scoreline.
Rory Grogan was the next Tyrone man on court and another great battle ensued, which again took three games to settle before the Carrickmore man lifted the over 35 b title at the expense of Down’s Martin Turley. Rory now goes for the doubles title along with Seamus McCrory as they prepare to meet fellow Tyrone duo, Martin Toner and Conal Curran, this weekend.
The third match in Armagh saw Kenny Curran face Antrim’s Kevin McParland, last year’s masters b champion, in the silver masters b decider and after a shaky start the Loughmacrory man found his rythm to secure victory in two straight games.
The final showdown on the card was the main attraction as Tyrone’s Barry Devlin tried to take the junior singles title off Monaghan’s Terry Kernan, and what a performace it was from the Breacach player who, after losing the opening game, proceeded to win the next two games in style to end the three year reign of his opponent.
It was an impressive display by Barry who will tackle Kernan again in the doubles decider this Sunday when he teams up with Carrickmore’s Ryan Daly.
While Armagh was busy hosting four Ulster finals on Saturday, Tyrone were registering another provincial success closer to home as Loughmacrory’s Lisa McAleer was winning the ladies intermediate title in Beragh, courtesy of a dominant show against Donegal’s Avril McNamee.
Unfortuantely, Michelle Warren wasn’t enjoying the same outcome to her junior b singles final in St Mellan’s as the Breacach player tasted defeat at the hands of Monaghan’s Niamh Farrell.
Conor McElduff was also in Ulster final action in Tydavnet on Saturday and he had a tough game on his hands against the defending champion, Terry McElvaney, the Monaghan man eventually retaining his title.
The concluding Ulster singles final was staged on Sunday evening and turned out to be the most emphatic Tyrone win of the weekend as Shane O’Neill saw off Cavan’s James Brady in the intermediate decider, completing a notable treble for his club of minor, junior and intermediate honours.
Unfortunately, Shane bowed out of the Irish Mens Open singles championship at the weekend along with Caolan Daly and Darragh Daly, leaving Tyrone with no involvement in the last 16, although the Daly brothers are into the quarter-finals of the mens open doubles and will face Cork’s Killian Carroll and Brendan Fleming in late March.
Shane O’Neill has the chance to complete the double in the intermediate grade this Sunday when he joins forces with Gary McCrory to take on Cavan again for the doubles prize.
The intermediate doubles final will be the last game on Sunday’s card at St Mellan’s which will feature three Tyrone v Cavan tussles, starting with the masters b final in which Kenny Curran and Finbarr Fullen will meet Jimmy McKeown and Brendan McCormack.
Ulster Handball Championships – Singles final results…
Minor Singles – Gabhain McCrystal (Tyr) defeated Darren Doherty (Mon) 21-20, 21-18
Junior B Singles – Mark McCullagh (Tyr) defeated Sean Digney (Dow) 21-10, 18-21, 21-18
Over 35 B Singles – Rory Grogan (Tyr) defeated Martin Turley (Dow) 21-15, 13-21, 21-10
Silver Masters B Singles – Kenny Curran (Tyr) defeated Kevin McParland (Ant) 21-20, 21-9
Junior Singles – Barry Devlin (Tyr) defeated Terry Kiernan (Mon) 7-21, 21-16, 21-15
Ladies Intermediate Singles – Lisa McAleer (Tyr) defeated Avril McNamee (Don) 21-8, 21-4
Under-21 singles – Terry McElvaney (Mon) defeated Conor McElduff (Tyr) 21-9, 21-17
Ladies Junior B Singles – Niamh Farrell (Mon) defeated Michelle Warren (Tyr) 21-8, 21-3
Intermediate Singles – Shane O’Neill (Tyr) defeated James Brady (Cav) 21-7, 21-3
Ulster Championship Doubles Finals
Sunday 24th February at St. Mellan’s…
Masters B Doubles – Finbarr Fullen / Kenny Curran (Tyr) v Jimmy McKeown / Brendan McCormack (Cav) 3pm
Junior Doubles – Terry Kiernan / James Gavaghan (Mon) v Barry Devlin / Ryan Daly (Tyr) 4pm
Intermediate Doubles – James Brady / Patrick Clerkin (Cav) v Shane O’Neill / Gary McCrory (Tyr) 5pm
Sunday 24th February at Beragh…
Minor Doubles – Pól Clarke / Gabhain McCrystal (Tyr) v Patrick McCrory / Johnny Woods (Tyr) 4pm
Over 35 B Doubles – Conal Curran / Martin Toner (Tyr) v Seamus McCrory / Rory Grogan (Tyr) 5pm