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Charly Shanks wings his way to double triumph

Armagh handball ace Charly Shanks
Tony McGee

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Armagh doyen Charly Shanks spread his wings at the weekend with great results as he competed in two championships almost 200 miles apart.

On Saturday, he was in county Kildare to battle for a place in the O'Neill's Men's Irish Open Championship quarter-final and, on Sunday, he was back north in Belfast to defend his Ulster Open title.

The double date was was totally positive as the Lurgan man is now through to the Irish semi-finals and he easily retained the Ulster crown, with wins over Cork's Tadhg Carroll and Darragh Daly.

Shanks agreed to bring forward the match with Carroll as Tadhg was due to fly out this week to play in the US Collegiate Championships in Missouri. Some people may say that Charly was taking a huge risk in agreeing to play in two tip top fixtures but he doesn't agree.

“At tournaments like the Golden Gloves you have to play, maybe, four games on the same weekend so playing those two was only half that activity. I know that there was travel involved but I had some time to rest up between the matches,” he says.

Anyhow, it all worked out very well for Shanks as he dismissed both Carroll and Daly to reach the Irish Championship semi-finals, on March 3 at Kingscourt, and to win the Ulster title for a sixth time.

“I suppose, it was a tough enough weekend but all is well that ends well and I will now rest up a little and prepare for the Irish Championship semi-final next month. I am delighted to have won the Ulster title again,” enthuses the Clan Eireann club player who has dismissed any ideas of making an appearance on the WPH Pro Tour in the US in the immediate future, at least.

In the Ulster final, at Gort na Mona, he overcame Croke Park Handball Development Officer Darragh Daly from Carrickmore. Shanks retained the title on a 21-8, 21-16 ticket.

“It wasn't as easy as the scores might suggest,” he stresses. “Darragh is playing very good handball just now. Most things I threw at him he was able to handle pretty well and I am just glad to have retained the title again. Now it is on to the Irish Championship, which I won last year. That is for another day.”

The weekend of Ulster Championship finals produced some excellent games with the U21 decider between Gavin Coyle from Monaghan and Tyrone's Sean Kerr thrilling the galleries.

Kerr, fresh from his victory in the US Juniors 19&Under championship, entered the tussle as favourite but Bawn boy Coyle was unperturbed by that He set out his stall in the first game by winning 21-11 before Kerr levelled the final with a 21-15 result. However, Coyle proved his worth by taking the honours 21-12 in the shootout.

Tyrone minor footballer Cormac Munroe changed codes successfully with victory at 5 and 10 over Dara Curran in the minor final but the Silver Men's B trophy went to the Curran clan as Chris defeated fellow Tyrone man Finbar Fullen 21-5, 21-6.

Antrim took the lion's share of the 21 titles, winning five, with four going to Tyrone and three to Monaghan. Armagh and Down won one each. There was, also a number of uncontested finals, because of players scratching or lack of entries. Tyrone and Antrim each took home two of those with Monaghan and Down also being declared winners.

The Ulster Ladies' Championship has yet to be finished as illness to a player meant postponements. The remaining finals are LOS Antrim (Aisling Reilly) v Armagh (Megan McCann) and LIS Tyrone (Eilise McRory) v Armagh (Megan McCann). McCann, US Juniors triple winner McCann, is of course, bidding for two provincial titles. f

Tyrone girls Claire and Caitlin Conway added to the Red Hand weekend honours list with Claire winning the Junior B Singles and Caitlin getting a walkover in the minor final.

Handball

Ulster GAA Handball Championship finals at Kingscourt

Men - MOS: Armagh (Charly Shanks) dft Tyrone (Darragh Daly) 21-8, 21-16

IS: Tyrone (Ryan Mullan) dft Antrim (Sean Clarke)

MS:Tyrone (Cormac Munroe) dft Tyrone (Dara Curran) 21-5, 21-10

U21S: Monaghan (Gavin Coyle) dft Tyrone (Sean Kerr) 21-11, 15-21, 21-12

JS: Antrim (Jordan O'Neill) dft Monaghan (Conor O'Gorman) 21-10, 21-5

JBS: Antrim (Mark Rainey) dft Monaghan (Ramunas Ramanauskas) 21-11, 21-18

O35AS: Tyrone (Shane O'Neill) only entry

O35BS: Antrim (Con Collins) dft Cavan (Brian Reilly) 21-6, 21-1

MAS: Antrim (Sean Devine) dft Antrim (Paul Graham) 21-17, 21-11

MBS: Down (Tony O'Connor) dft Down (Jim Cunningham) 21-15, 18-21, 21-19

SMAS: Monaghan (Michael Clerkin) only entry

SMBS: Tyrone (Chris Curran) dft Tyrone (Finbar Fullen) 21-5, 21-6

GMAS: Tyrone (Niall Kerr) dft Antrim (Paddy Crothers) 21-8, inj default

GMBS: Antrim (Sean McGurn) W/O Antrim (Kieran Cooper) Scr

EMAS: Antrim (Thomas Maguire) dft Monaghan (Conor McDonnell)

EMBS: Monaghan (John Treanor) dft Antrim (Philip O'Neill)

DMAS: Monaghan (Martin McEntee) dft Monaghan (Peter Larkin) 21-20, 21-3

DMBS: Down (Brian Havern) only entry

RMAS: Tyrone (John McCullagh) W/O Monaghan (Michael McCarron) Scr

O70S: Antrim (Seamus Graham) only entry

LADIES - LOS: Antrim (Aisling Reilly) v Armagh (Megan McCann) TBC

LIS: Tyrone (Eilise McRory) v Armagh (Megan McCann) TBC

LJBS: Tyrone (Claire Conway) dft Tyrone (Eilish Owens)

LMS: Tyrone (Caitlin Conway) W/O Tyrone (Elizabeth McGarvey) scr.

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