Tyrone’s Kerr & Mullan secure GAA Handball U21 All Ireland Glory as Juveniles bid for gold

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Tyrone picked up their first gold medals of the 2017 All Ireland 60×30 championships when Ryan Mullan and Sean Kerr teamed up in brilliant style to defeat Kilkenny in the All Ireland under-21 doubles final in Kells last Saturday

The talented Tyrone pair took control of the match early on and secured a 21-13 win in the opening game, before sealing a famous triumph in the second game, crushing the Kilkenny challenge on a scoreline of 21-6. Ryan and Sean have linked up superbly in the ‘big alley’ this year and were impressive winners on Saturday, and it was a particularly sweet moment for Ryan who avenged his recent singles final defeat at the hands of Brian Mahon. For Sean, Tyrone’s most successful underage player ever, it was amazingly a first 60×30 All Ireland championship win since his under-14 days.

2017 GAA Handball All Ireland Under 21 Doubles Champions, Ryan Mullan and Sean Kerr, pictured with All Ireland Senior Doubles Champion, Meath’s Tom Sheridan

Ryan and Sean have linked up superbly in the ‘big alley’ this year and were impressive winners on Saturday, and it was a particularly sweet moment for Ryan who avenged his recent singles final defeat at the hands of Brian Mahon. For Sean, Tyrone’s most successful underage player ever, it was amazingly a first 60×30 All Ireland championship win since his under-14 days.While Sean can go on and add to his haul of under-21 medals over the next couple of years, this was a fitting end to Ryan’s illustrious underage career.

While Sean can go on and add to his haul of under-21 medals over the next couple of years, this was a fitting end to Ryan’s illustrious underage career.

“Yes, it was my last under-21 game,” smiled Ryan, “and this win means a lot as it has capped off my underage handball career with an All Ireland winner’s medal. Thankfully I played much better compared to the singles final!“I was in last year’s big alley under-21 singles and doubles finals as well but I got beaten in both,” he reflected. “Winning this also means I’ve won a doubles All Ireland in every grade from U15 up to U21 in 40×20 and 60×30.

“I was in last year’s big alley under-21 singles and doubles finals as well but I got beaten in both,” he reflected. “Winning this also means I’ve won a doubles All Ireland in every grade from U15 up to U21 in 40×20 and 60×30.“Along with Johnny (Woods) I won the 40×20 U21 doubles title earlier this year, and two years ago I lost the U21 final alongside Paddy McCrory, so altogether in under-21 handball I’ve played in 6 All Ireland finals and won 2.”

“Along with Johnny (Woods) I won the 40×20 U21 doubles title earlier this year, and two years ago I lost the U21 final alongside Paddy McCrory, so altogether in under-21 handball I’ve played in 6 All Ireland finals and won 2.”“It was the first time for me to play doubles with Sean this year and we just clicked,” Ryan continued. “He’s very easy to play with and in the final especially we both covered the court well and played good shots to stay in control of the game.

“It was the first time for me to play doubles with Sean this year and we just clicked,” Ryan continued. “He’s very easy to play with and in the final especially we both covered the court well and played good shots to stay in control of the game. For the year ahead, It’ll get a bit tougher now that I’m playing in intermediate, but I plan on working hard with the aim of moving up to senior level and doing well in the world championships in the US next August,” he concluded.

Kenny Curran and Finbarrr Fullen lost out to Westmeth in the GAA Handball All Ireland Silver Masters B Doubles Championship Final in Kells

Meanwhile, there was no joy for Tyrone in the curtain raiser in Kells on Saturday as Finbarr Fullen and Kenny Curran put up a gallant effort against Westmeath in the silver masters final before eventually suffering a 21-15, 21-13 defeat. The Tyrone pair had also lost the 40×20 doubles final earlier in the year but can be proud of their efforts in both codes in 2017.

Tyrone Juvenile players focus on all Ireland 60×30 Championship success…

Tyrone will feature in four All Ireland finals this weekend when the juvenile championships reach an exciting climax, with six young Tyrone stars aiming for glory in the heartland of 60×30 handball.

Unfortunately, the Tyrone representatives will be split up and will be playing at three different Leinster venues over the course of the weekend but it will be a huge occasion for all six as they bid for gold medals against formidable Leinster opponents from Kildare, Kilkenny, and Wexford.

Loughmacrory’s Mairead Fox faces a tough challenge as last year’s under-14 All Ireland champion takes on the brilliant Mollie Dagg from Kildare in the hope of becoming the first Tyrone player to capture the prestigious under-16 All Ireland singles title. It’s the equivalent title won by her brother Antoin in the boy’s section twelve months ago.

Mairead swept aside all opponents in championship handball in 2016 but this has been a tough year for her following the step up to take on older players, but she is now hitting form following a number of injury setbacks and is poised to give the Kildare star a serious battle.

It will be Mairead’s fourth All Ireland final in 2017 across all codes, having lost to Mollie already in the 40×20 colleges decider, and she is now ready to give this final her best shot. She has the class to pull off a famous victory in Wexford.

Tyrone will meet Kilkenny in two big All Ireland finals on Sunday, with Cloda McNamee taking on the talented Amy Brennan for the girls under-14 singles title following her outstanding win over Tipperary’s Amy McKeogh.

Tyrone’s Juvenile All Ireland 60×30 Finalists who will be in action this weekend (L to R): Cloda McNamee, Caitlin Conway, Elizabeth McGarvey, Brian McAleer, Jack Darcy, Mairead Fox

Cloda has been playing great stuff in the big alley this season and is ready for a serious tilt at this All Ireland title in what will be her first major championship final appearance on the national stage. Tyrone won the under-14 title for the first time last year through Mairead Fox and the Carrickmore girl is capable of following in Mairead’s footsteps.

Caitlin Conway and Elizabeth McGarvey will also have to deal with strong Kilkenny opposition in the under-16 grade after they maintained their unbeaten record in doubles this year with an emphatic semi-final win over Tipperary.

The Tyrone duo has developed into a serious partnership at the highest level, combining class, power, and teamwork, and they will take some stopping on Sunday but the final is sure to be a tough one against Noelle Dowling and Roisin O’Keefe.

The Lougmacrory / Breacach combination are former under-14 doubles champions in the big court and have already claimed the 40×20 under-16 doubles title in 2017, so a victory on Saturday would be a fitting way for two great young players to finish off their juvenile careers.

For Brian McAleer and Jack Darcy, Sunday’s fixture in Wexford represents their biggest occasion in the 60×30 court and they will go into battle against the home county with a great chance of success, although a rigorous test awaits them against Diarmuid Moore and Dean O’Neill.

Jack has already featured in an All Ireland final this year, having partnered his Breacach clubmate Jonathan Owens in the 40×20 court, so he has experience of the big stage, while Killyclogher star Brian is a powerful and very accomplished 60×30 player who is well capable of leading the Tyrone lads to victory on Sunday.

It’s a huge weekend of handball for some of Tyrone’s brightest young stars and hopefully, the county can maintain a proud record of achievement on the highest stage in the traditional 60×30 court.

FIXTURES AND RESULTS…

ALL IRELAND 60X30 FINALS 2017…
All-Ireland 60×30 adult doubles championship finals…
Saturday 7th October at Kells:
U21D: Tyrone (Sean Kerr & Ryan Mullan) beat Kilkenny (Brian Mahon & Emmet Landy) 21-13, 21-6
SMBD: Westmeath (Joe Mulvanney & Mike Naughton) beat Tyrone (Kenny Curran & Finbarr Fullen) 21-15, 21-13

All Ireland 60×30 Juvenile Championship Finals 2017…
Saturday 14th October in St Mary’s, Wexford @2pm:
GU16S: Tyrone (Mairead Fox) v Kildare (Mollie Dagg)
Sunday 15th October in Garryhill, Carlow @ 11 am:
GU14S: Tyrone (Cloda McNamee) v Kilkenny (Amy Brennan)
GU16D: Tyrone (Caitlin Conway & Elizabeth McGarvey) v Kilkenny (Noelle Dowling & Roisin O’Keeffe)
Sunday 15th October in Castlebridge, Wexford @ 11 am:
BU15D: Tyrone (Brian McAleer & Jack Darcy) v Wexford (Diarmuid Moore & Dean O’Neill)

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