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Clare takes three titles

CLARE handball’s future stars were to the fore at the weekend as the county was involved in five All-Ireland juvenile 40×20 finals, all played at Tuamgraney on Sunday.
First up was the girls’ U-16 doubles decider, where Kilkenny (Mary Love, Ciara Mahon) had a convincing win over Clooney pair Paula Loughnane and Shaunagh O’Brien.
In the girls’ U-15 doubles final, Galway duo Mary Fahy and Shannon Keady proved too strong for Natasha Coughlan and Michelle Nihill (both Clooney).
In the third final of the day, Tuamgraney pair Alice Akers and Stacey Wright broke Clare’s duck by winning the girls U-17 doubles final on a 21-17, 21-12 scoreline against Dublin pairing Lisa McKenna and Susan Clinton.
This was noteworthy as both Clare girls are relative beginners in handball terms and were playing a full three years above their grade.
Tulla’s Colin Corbett scored an impressive 15-11, 15-8 victory over Wicklow’s Daniel Curry to claim the boys U-14 singles title before Barry Nash (Tuamgraney) and Niall Bolton (Tulla) rounded off the programme by claiming the U-16 doubles title. In the closest finish of the day, the Clare duo edged out Martin Mullins and Cian Lawlor of Carlow 21-15, 19-21, 11-9 to make it three All-Ireland titles for the home county.
President of the Irish Handball Council, Tony Hannon, was present at the finals and presented medals and commemorative jerseys to winners and runners-up. In addressing the crowd, he praised the current strength of Clare juvenile handball and the present high standard of the underage game across the country.
Last Saturday also saw an historic win for Cavan superstar Paul Brady in the All-Ireland 40×20 Senior Singles final played at Kingscourt. With a 21-17, 21-7 win over Armagh’s Charlie Shanks, world number one Brady equalled Clare legend Pat Kirby’s record of six senior singles titles in a row to take his seventh senior crown overall.
This coming weekend sees the focus switch to Clare’s adults as they go in search of more All-Ireland success. Silver masters B hopeful John Cawley (Shannon) is in All-Ireland final action on Saturday in Silvermines (2.30pm) against Mayo’s Brendan Judge while on Sunday it’s the turn of the ladies with Clare contesting two finals in Crinkle (1pm start).
In junior B singles, Tuamgraney’s Ashling Fitzgerald takes on Aoife McCarthy (Westmeath) before Ashling’s sister Anne Marie teams up with Louise Hayes against Kilkenny’s Rachel Hogan and Marie Walshe in the junior doubles decider.


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