Martina McMahon wins All-Ireland Senior Singles ladies’ handball title
Robbie McCarthy claims men’s title after beating Martin Mulkerrins
Limerick’s Martina McMahon won the ladies’ All-Ireland Senior Singles title on Saturday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
There may have been novel finalists but there was nothing unusual about the winners as Westmeath’s Robbie McCarthy and Limerick’s Martina McMahon claimed the men’s and ladies’ All-Ireland Senior Singles titles on Saturday.
The matches were played behind closed doors in Crinkle, Co Offaly, but streamed free on GAA Handball’s social media channels. It made for a surreal atmosphere for one of the biggest occasions in the handball calendar but the quality on show in all grades was high.
McCarthy (33), lining out in his 12th successive decider, faced a new opponent in Galway’s Martin Mulkerrins. The Mullingar right-hander started well, racing into a 12-4 lead, but Mulkerrins began to find his range on aggressive kills from deep and came back to level matters at 13.
However, McCarthy showed his experience as he pinned the Moycullen man in the back court and his deft touches in the front proved the difference as he produced a succession of trademark paddle kills to close out the first 21-15 before pulling away for an easy 21-8 win in game two.
Meanwhile, the peerless McMahon was in a different league in the ladies’ final. She overpowered first-time finalist Ciara Mahon of Kilkenny as she won the first game 21-2 in just 14 minutes.
The scores were tied at 6-6 in the second but McMahon’s two-handed offence proved too much as she ran out a 21-8 winner.
McMahon had been accustomed to meeting Cork’s Catriona Casey in finals – the rivalry between the duo has been among the most gripping in Irish sport in recent years – but Casey made a shock exit at the quarter-final stage and the Broadford lefty capitalised as she dismantled all comers to retain her crown.
“We’re all just fortunate that we can play this year with what has been going on. A lot of us were glad of the break but once I saw in black and white that there was going to be a competition, that was it – gloves tied, goggles on and ready for road,” said McMahon.
“Catriona [Casey] being knocked out by Aoife McCarthy, it was the shock of the year but it just goes to show that in sport, anything can happen.”
Earlier, Kilkenny dual star Billy Drennan landed the Minor Singles title with a hugely-impressive 21-12, 21-5 victory over Tipperary’s Rory Grace. Drennan, a highly-rated hurler, followed in the footsteps of hurling greats DJ Carey and Richie Hogan who previously won the Minor Softball Doubles titles in 1989 and 2005 respectively.
The ladies’ Minor Singles crown also went Noreside as Noelle Dowling was a 21-11, 21-12 winner over Clare’s Chloe Philpott.