Killian Carroll welcomes the unexpected entry of Paul Brady in worlds
KILLIAN Carroll welcomes the unexpected entry of Paul Brady for the World Championship Men's Open competition this month, in Minnesota. It is not because the Cork man is hoping to get revenge on the Breffni legend after defeat in the final three years ago but because he reckons Brady's presence gives the competition a higher status.
“Brady entering is the best thing that has happened in handball for a while,” Boston-based Carroll told me.
“He is the greatest player of all time, so far, and will be for a good while. Personally I’m glad he entered because to me he still is the greatest player and just to step into the court with him is the best learning experience, mentally. You are dealing with a dominant dictator in the court who doesn’t like to give an inch and there is just no other handballer who can dictate the way he does.
“So if I’m lucky to play him again I look forward to see the improvements and ruthless game-play he has in store.”
If they are to clash again it will be in the final, once more, as they are at opposite ends of the draw. Carroll, being the US No 1 just now, is seeded at the top while Brady is seeded second and at the bottom with many challengers in between. They both have got a bye in the opening round of 64. Brady will meet Ricardo Fermandez from Mexico in the second round, as he has also got a bye. Carroll will face either New Yorker Arthur Sayed or Californian Pete Papathemetrie in the Round of 32.
Those second round battles will take place next Tuesday as the Men's Open swings into action on Monday.
As part of his preparations, Carroll has called in some Tyrone opposition as he revealed: “I have been sparring more intensely the last couple of weeks with Tyrone boys Johnny Woods and Sean Kerr. They are great young prospects and they have been keeping me on my toes in the lead up to the Worlds.
“Otherwise, I’ve been preparing like for any other tournament but playing more handball. I’ve been trying to develop new things but they are in the early stages of development and won’t be any winning shots of consistency.
“The field this year for the Worlds is spectacular in number and talent as all the big names are there bar two, Charlie Shanks and David Fink, with the rest having entered. Many have improved greatly from the last Worlds, especially the Irish like Diarmaid Nash and Martin Mulkerrins.
“I don’t get to play those two very often and would love the chance and I’m sure if I can stay in the tournament long enough I’ll get my chance.”
Of the 13 Irish in the draw, five are in Carroll's top half, including Nash and Killian's younger brother Tadgh. Ironically, they could meet in the semi-finals!
“I’ve played in Minneapolis twice before, in 2014 and in 2016,” continued Killian, “both in the US Nationals and it’s probably the best place in America to hold the Worlds. The hosts do a fantastic job running a tournament and the courts are excellent, as well.”