Killian Carroll survives shootout to claim title in Montana
Killian Carroll and Mando Ortiz must know each other's game by now.
They met for the third time this season and second time in a final when they clashed in the decider of the R48 Red Devil event in Missoula, Montana with the Irish man continuing where he left off at the end of 2017.
US number one Carroll entered the final with a 4-3 head-to-head advantage in R48 play and rode a two-match winning streak against Ortiz into the final but he was pushed into a shootout before maintaining his dominance of the pro tour.
Ortiz, from Norwalk in California, has had an amazing rise to fame since he stunned Paul Brady, a few years ago, when picking the then World number one as his opponent, after winning a qualifying event for a ProStop event.
Carroll took control of the clash with a dominating serve, striking eight aces to take a 12-6 lead in game one before Ortiz called a time-out and stunned Carroll by raking up nine consecutive points to take the first game.
Stung by this setback, Carroll regrouped second time on court, never allowing Ortiz into the action and running away with the game in jig-time nine minutes to force a tiebreaker.
The Boston-based Cork man continued to dictate play in the shootout, leading 10-4 and quickly clinching match point at 14-7.
Following three dives, Carroll earned a right-hand set-up to win the match on the 19th shot of the rally. Carroll’s right-hand kill-shot attempt just missed, giving Ortiz a chance and he scored four consecutive points to briefly seize the momentum. When Carroll regained the side-out with a kill-shot he clinched his third R48 title of the season on the next rally.
“Mando is playing very well this season and I’m the only player on the tour who has been able to beat him,” reflected Carroll. “This win is definitely special for me”.
The winner arrived in the final without breaking much sweat, as he sped past Luis Cordova at 0 and 4 in just 25 minutes and squashed Sean Lenning's hopes at 3 and 8, before dismissing Ortiz 12-15, 15-3, 15-11.
Irish Nationals titleholder Diarmuid Nash (Clare) and Peter Function (Kilkenny) both came through the qualifiers with Lenning ending Nash's title hopes in three games.
The Clare man won the first game 15-8 but lost the second 15-13. Lenning then survived 19-17 in the longest third game in the history of the ProStop Tour.
Nash finished joint seventh in the competition with Function taking ninth position.
On the home front, there was success for Loughmacrory pair Dearbhail Fox and Eoin McElholm as they won the 28th annual Gael Linn competition, at Salthill, by defeating Galway players Emma Kinane and Gavin Kelly, representing the Abbeyknockmoy club, by 52 to 37.
The competition is played with the use of the Irish language being encouraged throughout