Catriona Casey aiming to end hectic week on high

Cork handball star Catriona Casey. Picture: Seamus Loughran
Tony McGee

It is a busy week and, so far, a highly successful one for Catriona Casey.

She has added a sixth All-Ireland 40x20 Doubles Championship title to her haul of trophies, did two days teaching in her local school and then flew off to New York to defend the Women's Invitational Tournament title on the ProStop Tour.

“I flew to New York on Wednesday and I begin the defence of my title on Friday,” said the Cork colleen, “so it is certainly a busy week for me.

“Winning the Doubles Championship final last weekend, along with Ashling O'Keeffe, has been a great boost for me coming out here to the New York Athletic Club.

“Hopefully, it will be another successful weekend for me but the opposition, as usual, will be very strong.”

Ten top American players are in the draw along with Casey and Hilary Rushe from Roscommon who is entered from her US base in Illinois. She is permanently living in Chicago nowadays.

In last season's final, Casey defeated Martina McMahon in two games but the current Irish Singles champion from Limerick isn't in the draw this time. Casey has won the New York title for the past five years and is favourite to continue her winning ways.

She is going for her 14th title in 16 ProStop events in the US and is regarded as one of the top women players in the world as she heads the US Order of Merit.

Paul Brady prevented a Cork double in the Big Apple last year when he pulled off a victory in the men's final over Killian Carroll. Brady is not defending the title but, in the past year, Carroll has risen through the ranks to become US Number One and hits-off at the NYAC as favourite for the men's title, this weekend.

He has dominated the men's ProStop Tour this season, winning four of the five events played. Sean Lenning is the only player to have beaten him and the pair are ranked first and second in the draw this weekend. Lenning, from Arizona, won last time out in Las Vegas, in a 15-12 shootout.

Others, of course, have eyes on taking down the Irishman. Mando Ortiz and David Fink are among the dangers to Carroll and there is also a likelihood of a qualifier springing a major surprise, as Ortiz did against Paul Brady a few years ago.

This is the last chance for both the men and women pros to gain points before the Players' Championships in Salt Lake City, next month. The first rounds in both the male and female competitions hit off today in New York.

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