Catriona Casey and Robbie McCarthy into final Handball fray
Things don't change a lot in Irish handball as the tried-and-trusted players usually battle their way through to the closing stages of the various Irish and National Championships.
And so it is in the MyClubShop.ie 60x30 All-Ireland men's and women's competitions.
With the World Championships now a matter for the record books for another three years, it is back to domestic affairs as the stage is set for the finals of the men's and women's softball titles later this month, now that the semi-finals have been completed.
It is a case of deja vu in both competitions as the pairings will be the same as 12 months ago when Robbie McCarthy (Westmeath) and Catriona Casey (Cork) clinched the titles, with victories over big alley expert Eoin Kennedy (Dublin) and Martina McMahon (Limerick). It will be the same pairings on September 29 when the finals are decided at Croke Park, this season.
Despite his naval time out of the country, midlander McCarthy manages to remain a top dog on the handball courts and he turned in a flawless display in dismissing Limerick's Paudi Quish in the weekend semis.
Defending champion McCarthy didn't have a lot of trouble in stepping back into the final, once again, as he dismissed the claims of Quish in two games, 21-13, 21-4. Meanwhile, Dubliner Kennedy, who skipped out going to the Worlds, also sped into the decider with a facile 21-11, 21-3 slamming of neighbour Gary McConnell from Meath.
Both finalists also had superb wins in the quarter-finals as Kennedy dismissed Tipperary challenger Gary Coonan in two games at 12 and 5. Possibly the 21-17, 21-3 dismissal of All-Ireland 40x20 champion Martin Mulkerrins (Galway) by McCarthy was a mild surprise but it underlines the excellent form that McCarthy is currently in.
Another chapter is about to be written in the story of meetings between Catriona Casey and Martina McMahon, somewhat like the previous battles between Casey and Ashling Reilly.
Casey and McMahon are now the top pair, it would seem, in Irish ladies' handball as they are constantly clashing, including in the World final when McMahon defeated favourite Casey to complete a hand-trick of World titles.
McMahon also stripped Casey of the Irish 40x20 championship crown this year.