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Catriona Casey on the winning handball trail in Arizona

Cork handball star Catriona Casey
Tony McGee

Catriona Casey returned to her winning ways in The Memorial at Tucson, Arizona but Killian Carroll stumbled again during the richest event on the WPH R48 Tour, his second defeat since winning the World Championship in August.

For the second time in a row, it was an all-Irish decider in the women's final with Casey coming good this time to cement her standing as the top pro on tour in America.

In the final, the Cork girl outshot Galwegian Ciana Ní Churraoin, the second time that the pair met in the final and the second time for Casey, who lost the decider last season to her present day torturer Martina McMahon from Limerick, to overcome Ní Churraoin in the decider.

Both players reached the last hurdle without much problem. Casey got a bye in the Round of 16, then never lost an ace to Aimee Fadden from Denver in the quarter-finals, beat local Ashley Moher at 3 and 1 in the semis but had a stiffer test in the final against Ní Churraoin.

Like her opponent, Ní Churraoin sped through the field with 15-6, 15-1 wins over Kyra Vidas (Illinois), then dismissed Newfoundlander Leslie Ammison by giving away just one point in two games before a semi-final defeat of number two seed Tracey Davis at 9 and 1.

That set up the all-Irish final in which Corkonion Casey took control with a 15-7 victory in the first match before her opponent turned up the heat second time on court.

In a thrilling battle the result went to the wire before Casey finished the stronger to grab the title and the winner's cheque of $4,000 on a 16-14 scoreline. The loser collected $2,000 as her consolation from the competition.

With $50,000 in prize money being on offer for the various competitions at The Memorial, it is the richest event on the WPH R48 Pro Tour. A further bonus is that competitors do not have to pay an entrance fee to any of the competitions.

The winner's prize in the men's pro tournament is $9,000 but favourite Killian Carroll failed to win that cheque as he lost in the final to Sean Lenning from Tucson, the second seed, at 15-10, 15-7.

Boston-based Carroll, from Cork, seemed to be on his way to return to the winner's circle when he stormed through to the final with wins over Californian Loren Collado (15-6, 15-5) in the Round of 16 and local David Fink (15-4, 15-7). Vic Peres from Los Angeles had to withdraw from his quarter-final meeting with Carroll because of injury.

As usual, Lenning from Arizona showed tremendous form on his way to the semi-finals, never having to concede double points but he was taken to a tie-breaker by in-form Luis Cordova, junior, who won the Peachtree Open. However, Lenning edged through 15-11 to challenge Carroll.

An expected thriller didn't happen as Lenning proved too difficult, on this occasion, for Carroll to deal with and the Irish man fell to an unusual second defeat in a row, losing 15-10, 15-7, leaving the world champion without a win on the 2018-2019 tour, so far.

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