Handball: Ladies star Catriona Casey ready to take on men’s game

Ladies singles champion Catriona Casey, Cork, at the 2014 M Donnelly 60x30 Championship finals launch at Croke Park. Picture: Stephen McCarthy

A leading American professional handball promoter has described 21-year-old Cork sensation Catriona Casey as “the best female handball player that has ever lived”.

A leading American professional handball promoter has described 21-year-old Cork sensation Catriona Casey as “the best female handball player that has ever lived” ahead of her entry in the men’s qualifier for a professional tournament in the Olympic Club, San Francisco this weekend.

Ballydesmond’s Casey will attempt to make history by becoming the first woman ever to qualify for a male professional handball tournament when she lines out in the pre-event qualifier at the WPH Race4Eight tournament this Friday.

And the executive director of the WPH, David Vincent, reckons Casey — the dominant player in the ladies game — can compete with all bar the world’s elite male players. 

“It is so hard to quantify how any player in any sport is or was the best ever, yet these arguments will just continue until we get red in the face.

"If you’re asking my opinon, I personally think that Catriona Casey is the best women’s handball player to ever live,” Vincent, who is based in Tucson, Arizona, told the Irish Examiner.

“There are maybe 80 guys in the whole of America who could beat her, and there are tens of thousands of players. She is that good.”

UL student Casey has been in dominant form on the ladies circuit over the last 18 months but she expects a stern test in the men’s qualifier.

“I expect that qualifying will be very tough,” she said.

“While I have some experience in sparring with male pros, I know competitive action is a different ball game. I do hope to give a good account of myself — I’m not there to waste anyone’s time.

"The women’s competition is obviously my main priority. If I thought playing both would compromise my efforts in the women’s bracket in any way I wouldn’t do it.”

The men’s field is headed this weekend by Cavan’s Paul Brady, the current world no 1 who is coming off the back of a comprehensive win in Houston, Texas three weeks ago.

Thirty-two players will attempt to qualify for the event, with eight places up for grabs and the top eight invitees seeded into the first round proper.

Among those in the qualifier pool will be Galway’s Martin Mulkerrins and New York-based Mayo man Stephen Cooney, along with the history-chasing Casey.

This weekend’s tournament will be broadcast live online at www.race4eight.com  and on the Watch ESPN app.


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