Michael Finnegan and Paul Brady the men to beat in All-Ireland Handball Doubles tournament
With the domination of the men's World 40x20 Singles Handball Championship by Paul Brady over the past 15 years, the deeds of his Kingscourt colleague Michael Finnegan have been somewhat pushed into the background but they shouldn't be ignored.
Finnegan has been the Doubles partner of Brady both at home and abroad and the pair have been the men to beat in the All-Ireland Doubles tournament for well over a dozen years.
They are now aiming for their 12th title as they play in the semi-final of the competition this weekend. They have reached the final for the past 18 years and they have no intentions of not continuing on their amazing run.
Last Sunday, Brady and Finnegan brushed aside Galway brothers Martin and Diarmuid Mulkerrins at 12 and 15 and tomorrow, on their home court, will play Kilkenny brothers Patrick and Peter Funchion for a place in yet another final, at Kingscourt next weekend.
Five times World 40x20 Singles champion Brady has stepped back from much of handball competition for the past year but there is a steely determination in Breffni battler to retain the Doubles crown and achieve the round dozen.
“We are both definitely keen to win again,” stresses Finnegan.
“We have won 11 finals, in our 18 consecutive finals, but we feel that we left a few wins behind us. Once Paul got injured and, at least in one other final, we slipped up.
“I suppose that you can go to the well once too often. It can dry up but we are not looking at that happening. We are out to win our 12th title this season but, first things first, and it is the semi-final that matters this weekend.
“We have a tough match on our hands against Patrick and Peter (Funchion). They form a good combination and they had a good win over Tom Sheridan and Brian Carroll last weekend.”
Finnegan, who won the UGAAWA Handball Award in both 1991 and 1992, hinted that this could be his last year playing at top level.
“I will be 43 in July and I don't aim to play in any of the higher age grades. I do hope to remain in handball at some level or in some way but that decision is for the future. What is important now is this weekend's semi-final,” he insists.
In last year's final, the Cavan pair defeated Banner boys Diarmuid Nash and Colin Crehan 21-16, 21-13 and the losers are already through to this year's decider.
On Wednesday night, at Cullohill, they defeated Dublin's Eoin Kennedy and Carl Browne 8-21, 21-16, 21-6.
Also this weekend the World Junior trials are being held at various venues throughout the country.
There is a huge entry, including dozens of players from Ulster with Tyrone, Cavan and Monaghan well represented.