Diarmuid Nash and Catriona Casey clinch Golden Gloves handball honours
It was a Munster double in the FonaCAB Golden Gloves Handball Tournament, at St Paul's in Belfast, as Clare doyen Diarmuid Nash and Cork star Catriona Casey headed south with the Men's and Women's Open titles.
Undoubtedly, the organiser got the competitions seedings pretty close to perfect as Charly Shanks and Nash were numbers one and two in the men's tournament while Casey and Ashling Reilly were one and two in the women's competition.
So far, this has been a super season for hurler-cum-handballer Nash as he has won the Irish National Doubles and Men's World Championship Doubles plus lesser titles along the way and has now added the ranking Golden Gloves title.
Sunday's success made up for defeat in the final by Charly Shanks two years ago.
“Charly and I have met quite regularly and he usually had the upper hand.
“We played four times last season and this is the biggest victory I have had over him,” said Diarmuid.
“For me, it makes up a little for losing with my club, Scariff, in the semi-finals of the Clare Senior Hurling Championship this year.”
Nash defeated Armagh man Shanks in two games at 3 and 6 with both tussles having a similar pattern.
The opening salvoes were level as they were together at two and three both times but then the winner pressed the forward pedal, winning the next 12 aces without reply, despite some brave allies by Shanks.
Lurgan man Shanks did much better second time on court, even though he was stuck at three for quite a while with Nash dashing ahead 10-3. Points were exchanged before the winner with game ball ended the match 15-6.
“It is difficult to keep up with these young lads, nowadays, when there can be a 10-year's gap in ages,” remarked the loser who is one of the organisers of the tournament.
It used to be that Catriona Casey and Aisling Reilly clashed on a regular basis in semi-final finals and finals.
Once they met in eight deciders over a short period with the honours pretty evenly shared but Reilly's shoulder injury stopped her run for a time.
Yesterday evening it was like old times as the two handball exponents shared the court in an Irish final, once again, and this time Casey took the honours in two games at 1 and 12.
Reilly never got into the hunt in the first game as Casey stormed to a 14-0 lead before her opponent managed to score. Match point then came swiftly for the winner.
The second game was much closer. The players were together at five, six, nine and 12, after Casey had shot 5-0 ahead. Reilly then took advantage of some poor serves by her opponent and bagged the next five aces to stage a comeback. However from together at 12 Dublin schoolteacher Casey took control and rattled off the next three points to clinch victory for the second consecutive year at St Paul's.
”I wasn't too happy with my serving in the second game,” admitted Catriona,
“And I have plenty to work on before the next tournament in the new year.
“With working in Dublin now, I have been doing some practice on the big alley in Croke Park but not much work elsewhere.
“I will have to sort that out as I can't be travelling to Cork every weekend.
“I'm delighted, of course, with this victory.”
The winners received prizes of a personal trophy, a framed picture of a set of Golden Gloves and a travel voucher.