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Shanks keen to take final step after injury 'nightmare'

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Charly Shanks

Charly Shanks

SPORTSFILE

Charly Shanks

Armagh handball star Charly Shanks is determined to make up for lost time when he takes to the court for today's O'Neill's Sportswear All-Ireland senior singles final against holder Robbie McCarthy from Westmeath.

Shanks (pictured) reached successive finals in 2010 and 2011 before a two-year sojourn in the US - during which he competed on the pro handball circuit, eventually reaching top spot in the rankings - and a debilitating back injury delayed what looked like an inevitable ascension to the throne.

With world champion Paul Brady focusing on international competition, the All-Ireland race was blown wide open last year but when the smoke cleared it was McCarthy and not Shanks (32) wearing the crown. The Lurgan man plans to put that right today at Kingscourt, Co Cavan.

"I was out injured last year and it gives you an insight into whenever you do hang up your gloves and leave handball to continue with other things in life, handball quickly forgets. You are quickly forgotten about and that really hit home - you have to make the most of it now when you have the chance," said Shanks.

"Last year was a complete nightmare because I was getting pain on the court. It was a frustrating year last year.

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"I spent two years in New York before that watching the results filter through from the Irish championships, and it was disappointing not to be playing in it. I came back last year and lost and it hurt really bad."

Shanks enters the final with confidence following a convincing semi-final win over Clare's Diarmaid Nash but the mercurial McCarthy is also in fine form, as he showed when dominating Meath's Brian Carroll in the other semi.

"There's one big event in Irish handball every year and it's the All-Ireland senior championship and that's where every player wants to be, in the final.

"What's it going to take to beat Robbie? I've beat him before and he's beat me before, so we know each other's game pretty well. It's going to come down to who gets their tactics right on the day and who wants it the most, that's the bottom line."

On the undercard to the men's final are the minor decider between Tyron'e Sean Kerr and Mayo's Niall Joyce and the ladies senior final between holder Aisling Reilly of Antrim and Cork's Catriona Casey.

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