He promised a fairytale ending to his international career, and Paul Brady was as good as his word as he delivered a career-best showing to see off American Luis Moreno at CityWest last night.
But the Cavan man was forced to do it the hard way when he rallied from a huge deficit to see off the hot-shooting American number one Luis Moreno.
Twenty-four-year-old Moreno played some of the best handball of his career in that opening game. He gave an exhibition of attacking handball early on and led 13-2, with the champion looking nervous and struggling to find any kind of potent serve.
Moreno was awesome as he surged in front. Seemingly every time Brady found his range, the American hit back with a dazzling shot of his own.
Brady, at this stage, was forcing his shots but he gradually relaxed and cut the gap to 16-13.
Back came Moreno with two aces to go to 18 but Brady wasn’t done yet and an incredible surge saw him level at 19 and make the final point, screaming to the sky and banging the back wall with his fist as he exited the court in a rare show of passion.
The 4,000-strong crowd were on their feet as the players re-entered the court but this time Brady mixed ice with fire.
A hallmark of Brady is his ability to combine the powerful with the subtle and he mixed it up in the second game, taking the pace off the ball with precise “dump shots” and re-kills to nullify the American.
Moreno seemed to lose some of the zip he showed in the first game, leaving his kills an inch higher, and Brady, now at his mesmerising best, punished him, moving 10-7 up.
Two ace serves and two kills made it 18-10 as Moreno, after a monumental effort, struggled to withstand the champion’s onslaught, and an error from Moreno saw the Cavan man close it out 21-10.
“I just feel very relieved, I wanted to keep going right to the end, I never stopped fighting,” said the Mullahoran ace.
“I still remember a defeat he inflicted on me in 2008, I remember that pain and it drove me and I just said I’d never give up.”
Meanwhile, there is a new ladies world handball champion after Aisling Reilly from St Paul’s in Belfast defeated her clubmate, defending champion Fiona Shannon, in a thrilling final.
Employing a useful serve down the left and forcing hand errors from her unusually flat-footed opponent, Reilly rallied to 7-18 but those unforced errors came back to haunt her as Shannon closed it out, 21-9.
The 23-year-old totally dominated the second, however, finding her range with aggressive kills to win 21-6 and she rode her momentum in the tiebreaker to take the crown.
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