CORK players enjoyed a reasonably successful weekend in 60x30 All-Ireland Championship Finals with victories in Ladies Senior Singles and Mens Junior A Singles finals, while we had to be satisfied with runner up medals in Over 35 B Singles and Over 70 Singles.
It proved to be a very special weekend for Catriona Casey as she added the Martin Donnelly sponsored Ladies Open Singles title to the Doubles title won two weeks ago.
Catriona, who was the reigning champion, went into this final against Kerry's Maria Daly knowing there was room for error if she was to retain the title. Daly, a former Senior Singles champion and a great exponent of the 60x30 game, was never going to give up without a battle.
In recent battles Catriona has come out on top, but still cautious of the battling power and never say die attitude of Daly. However, as it turned out this game further underlined the distance Catriona has come in a few short years. Two weeks ago herself and her doubles partner and clubmate Aishling O'Keeffe demolised a Mayo the reigning doubles champions with a power packed display. She entered Saturday's Singles Final in Broadford with the same determination.
In the first game she totally dominated Daly a strong 60x30 player winning 21-6, Maria Daly has never been known to go down easily and she went all out to try and win the second and get herself back in contention but it was never to be as the Cork player weathered all that Maria could throw at her winning the second 21-14 to retain the title. Our congratulations to her on another fabulous performance and another Senior Ladies title for herself, her club and for Cork Handball.
Our second All-Ireland title of the weekend came from another Ballydesmond player Brendan Fleming who took on Wexford player Paul Lambert in All-Ireland Junior Singles Final. Brendan who lost this final two years ago was very focussed on atoning for that failure on this occasion. He has been hugely consistent in the meantime and has been the anchor of some big achievements by his club in the past two years as he has continued to play well.
He knew that Lambert was a good player and he would have to be at his best to win this one. He may not have been sure about that after the first game as the Wexford player played well never giving Brendan a chance to dominate as he won it 21-13. But to Brendan's credit he rose to the challenge and being a very fit player he took the game to Wexford and it paid off as he won the second 21-10.
He knew he had to repeat his performance in the third and again he did that controlling the game to win that crucial third 21-11 and be crowned All-Ireland Junior Singles champion 2013. Likewise our congratulations to Brendan on winning this title its never easy, but in the end the work he did to win Munster and win his semi-final and final the hard way underlines his battling qualities and dedication.
Cork also contested three other finals last weekend without success, John Herlihy, St Finbarrs lost Golden Masters A Singles to Westmeath's Robbie McCarthy in two straight games, Jamie O Donnell, Fermoy lost Over 35 B Singles Final to Roscommon Billy Kelly and Pat O Brien, Liscarroll was beaten in Over 70 Singles Final by Paddy Walsh, Sligo.
We continue our championship quest this weekend on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. On Friday evening In Over 35 B Doubles Ger Healy, Liscarroll and Denis Quinn, Ballydesmond team up when they face Roscommon Billy Kelly/John Kennedy at the Offaly venue Crinkle. As a partnership they are playing well and displayed some very good form in winning the Munster title,
Obviously Roscommon are strong with Billy Kelly already crowned singles champion, it will give him more confidence but I fancy Denis and Ger will give a good account of themselves and could shade it.
On Saturday afternoon at Broadford in a three game programme which also includes Intermediate Singles and Senior Doubles our Minor pairing Liscarroll pair Michael Hedigan/Daniel Relihan are first into action they will face Meath Evan Sheridan / Robert Fox, you have two good Minor pairings here and they should produce a good final, Michael and Daniel having lost last year's final to Leitrim will be anxious to make amends and they are well capable of it but so much depends on the day.
Winning back to back Minor Hardball titles in the past two years has been a great achievement and they would love to add a Minor Softball Medal to their collection, we extend best wish to both Ger and Denis on Friday evening and Michael and Daniel on Saturday evening in their quest to bring further All-Ireland glory to the county.