Lurgan's golden girl Megan McCann flying home as Irish players dominate big time in US
Once again, Irish players dominated big time at the USHA National Junior Four-Wall Championships with Lurgan's Megan McCann flying home today with three gold medals tucked away in her luggage, as she equalled the world record set 12 months ago by Carrickmore's Lorcan McBride.
At the 61st staging of the teenage championships in 2016, McBride became the first player in the history of the competitions to win three firsts in the same year and now Megan McCann has equalled the magical feat, in Illinois. Obviously, she is the first female to land the treble.
The Lurgan schoolgirl was successful in both the Small Ball and Big Ball U19 Singles and also in the U19 Doubles as she gave up only five aces in the Big Ball event and just 10 in the Small Ball competition.
“Yes, I'm over the moon,” she exclaimed. “It was a great tournament. The organisers couldn't do enough for us all, nothing was too much. I'm still sore about losing in the final of the Ulster Minor Football Chamionship a fortnight ago, because it was a goal I wanted to meet, but this success at the US Juniors certainly makes it easier.”
McCann wasn't the only Ulster player who returns home with a medal in the luggage as Sean Kerr sped to victory in the Boys' Small Ball event with an 11-5 shootout win over Cork's Tadhg O'Neill in the all-Irish final. The Tyrone player had beaten Californian (twice) and Canadian opposition on his way to meeting O'Neill. In the semi-finals he overcame a shootout (11-4) to reach the final.
Breacach boy Kerr was not so lucky, however, in the Doubles decider. He and O'Neill had teamed up for that 19&Under competition but, in a gripping final, they lost to Anthony Sullivan and Luis Bustos 21-17, 21-18.
Meanwhile, Megan McCann was battling her way to triple success. In the Girls' Small Ball she demolished Sophie Della Croce (Arizona) 21-0, 21-0 in the quarter-finals, beat Belisa Camacho, also from Tucson, Arizona, 21-0, 21-2 in the semis to face another Arizonian, Kena Byrd-Jackson in the final. She fared only marginally better than her Tucson colleagues, being dismissed 21-7, 21-3 as the Armagh girls swept to victory.
McCann rarely plays Big Ball but reckoned that she might as well entry for it when at the US Championships and it was a good move.
In a Round Robin contest, she easily brushed aside the opposition of Erin Lovie (Alabama) , Chloe Roberts (Illinois) and Emily Wichgers (Illinois). McCann amassed an incredible 126 aces, losing only five.
For the U19 Doubles, Megan teamed up with Belisha Camacho, the girl she defeated in the semi-finals of the Small Ball event, and it was a winning combination. The Irish-Arizona combination demolished locals Wichgers and Riley Frisbie 21-1, 21-0 in the quarters and then overcame Erin Lovie and Chloe Roberts by the same margins to reach the final.
The decider was a little more difficult but not too difficult for McCann and Camacho as they sped to success 21-12, 21-10 giving the Ulster girl her third medal and a world record equalling hat-trick at the USHA National Junior Championships.