Big guns advance to handball All-Ireland finals

The O’Neill’s All-Ireland Senior Singles finals will have a familiar look to them after Saturday’s semis saw four of the big guns advance.

Big guns advance to handball All-Ireland finals

The O’Neill’s All-Ireland Senior Singles finals will have a familiar look to them after Saturday’s semis saw four of the big guns advance.

Defending champion Robbie McCarthy of Westmeath turned in one of the best performances of his career, serving 10 aces against former winner Charly Shanks as he coasted to a 21-4, 21-4 victory in the first of the men’s semi-finals.

Game one took less than 20 minutes as the number one seed delivered a masterclass. Afterwards, however, the Athlone-based member of the Irish Defence Forces played it down.

“I feel okay, I’m not doing as much [training] any more and I feel a bit fresher. Charly looked like he was held back with a bit of an injury so I’m not going to take too much from it, I’m just going to look forward to the final now.

“I went off the boil a bit for a couple of years and the hunger was gone. Now, I’m one of the older guys, there’s no pressure on me. If I win, I win, if I don’t, I don’t. I’m just happy to keep competing with the [younger] boys, by right they should be beating us.”

In the other men’s semi-final, Clare’s Diarmaid Nash was razor-sharp against Martin Mulkerrins as he raced into a 13-1 lead before closing out the first game 21-10.

But the Galwegian found his range to open a big lead of his own in game two and finished that one 21-9 before his power came to the fore as he edged a gruelling third game 21-12 to reach his second Senior Singles final.

In the ladies semi-finals, holder Catriona Casey defeated a resurgent Aisling Reilly (21-10, 21-10) and while world champion Martina McMahon was a comfortable winner over Roscommon’s Fiona Tully, the Limerick lefty felt there was plenty of room for improvement.

“It’s good to be back in the final again but I didn’t think I performed as well as I can against Fiona. My serves were completely off but it’s good to have things to work on over the next two weeks.

“It’s myself and Casey again in the final for what will be another marathon, I’d say.”

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