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Catriona Casey: tight schedule for Mardi Gras handball event

Irish handball star Catriona Casey. Picture by Seamus Loughran.
Tony McGee

Catriona Casey is hoping that there won't be any flight delays today as she jets out to New Orleans to compete in the Mardi Gras WPH tournament over the weekend. She is due on court tomorrow in her first match.

Reflected the Dublin schoolteacher: “I have a very tight schedule as I fly out from Ireland on Friday morning and I am due to play on Saturday morning in New Orleans. I am hoping that there won't be any travel delays or I could be in serious trouble in making the date.”

The Mardi Gras handball tournament is one of the main attractions of the annual New Orleans festival with most of the world's top professionals involved with Cork girl Casey, a 19 times WPH champion, aiming for her eighth consecutive title success.

“The competition will be tough with the likes of top US players Danielle Daskalakis, Tracy Davis and Ashley Moler in the draw. There is also a big Irish representation so the opposition is certainly strong.

“Hopefully, I hope the flight goes smoothly and I get there without any delays and adjust quickly. I have never been to New Orleans so I look forward to experiencing a new city and, of course, a good tournament.”

Making her debut at the Mardi Gras, too, is Lurgan's Megan McCann while among the other Irish entered are Fiona Tully (Roscommon) and Galwegian Ciana Ní Churraoin who is an undergraduate at Minnesota University.

Yes, a tough test for Casey who is seeded Number One and, of course, like the rest of the Irish entered misses the Irish Nationals this weekend.

Lucho Cordova defends the men's title and a notable absentee from the early entrants in the men's competition is Killian Carroll but the draws are not announced until this morning.

Missing from the draw for the men's Irish Nationals in Mayo is Charly Shanks with 2019 winner Robbie McCarthy top second and Diarmuid Nash second. McCarthy is favourite to retain the title but in the top half, also, is Paul Brady seeking to recapture the crown he has worn 10 times in the past.

The return of the 41-year-old Cavan man is highly interesting.

With Casey missing Martina McMahon is hot favourite to collect the women's title and she gets a bye in the first round.

Good news this week for Conor McElduff as he got the all-clear to resume rehab and has begun the work in Letterkenny. He has got an invitation to the Australian Open next month and hopes to accept the offer.

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