1/13/19, WPH Press, Ballaghaderreen Co. Roscommon, Ireland- The John Gaffney Memorial Handball Tournament, sponsored by Drury Oils Ltd., served as the first 40×20 GAA singles ranking event of 2019 and third 40×20 GAA ranking event of the 2018/19 season, with current All Ireland 40×20 champion and Irish #1 Martin Mulkerrins headlining the field alongside Diarmaid Nash, Robbie McCarthy, Eoin Kennedy, Colin Crehan, Sean Kerr, and a number of top Irish stars seeking the prestigious Gaffney title in Ballaghaderreen Co. Roscommon, Ireland.
The John Gaffney Memorial was named in honor of the late John Gaffney, one of the great coaches in the history of Irish handball, responsible for teaching a number of the top Irish junior handball players in Ballaghaderreen.
“The depth and quality of the event speaks for itself,” stated Mulkerrins. “The Gaffney is a highly regarded event which all of the players want to win.”
The Irish #1 discovered the depth of the Gaffney field first-hand in the quarterfinals, drawing Irish legend Eoin Kennedy. Mulkerrins took the first against the professor but could not cross the line in either of the next two games, falling to one of Ireland’s greatest champions.
Robbie McCarthy was motivated to erase the sting of a lopsided two-game loss at the hands of Mulkerrins at the recent Moycullen Open, dropping Brian Carroll in two games to setup a clash with his greatest 60×30 rival in the semifinals.
The bottom bracket featured the game’s steadiest player, Diarmaid Nash, as “D” continued his quest for the Irish #1 ranking. Nash ousted the dangerous Peter Funchion in the quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals, where he would face his All Ireland doubles teammate, Colin Crehan.
McCarthy dismissed his 60×30 rival Kennedy in the upper bracket semifinals to advance to his first ranking event final of the current 2018/19 season, while Nash ousted Crehan to advance to his final of the season, fighting off game point in game one against the two-handed offensive machine and cruising in game two.
The finals pitted World Handball champion doubles teammates Robbie McCarthy and Diarmaid Nash in a clash of craft, power, and precision. Nash was too strong for his world doubles partner, buzz-sawing “The Buzzsaw” in two games to collect his second ranking event title of the season.
“I’m happy with the win,” stated Nash. “I was probably starting a bit better as the tournament wore on but Robbie wasn’t at his best. Long year ahead still though, so take it one tournament at a time.”
Round of 16
Martin Mulkerrins dft Michael Hedigan 15-7, 15-4
Michael Gregan dft Ger Coonan 15-5, 15-6
Eoin Kennedy dft Sean Kerr 15-4, 11-15, 11-1
Brian Carroll dft Brendan Fleming 15-12, 0-15, 11-4
Peter Funchion dft Darragh Daly 15-5, 15-2
Diarmaid Nash dft Dominic Lynch 15-7, 15-6
Robbie McCarthy dft Joe McCann 15-1, 15-4
Colin Crehan dft Conor McElduff 15-13, 15-6
Round of 8
Robbie McCarthy dft Brian Carroll 15-1, 15-13
Colin Crehan dft Michael Gregan 15-12, 15-3
Diarmaid Nash dft Peter Funchion 15-9, 15-8
McCarthy def Kennedy 15-6, 15-12
Nash def Crehan 15-14, 15-9
Final: Nash def McCarthy 15-7, 15-8
Thank you to GAA Handball for updates throughout the weekend. Photo of Eoin Kennedy courtesy of GAA Handball.
For more coverage of the 2019 John Gaffney Memorial, Like GAA Handball on Facebook, follow GAA Handball Ireland on Twitter @GAA Handball, or visit GAA Handball’s homepage HERE
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WPH Senior Writer