Demesne, Co. Mayo, Ireland, WPH Press, 7/6/19- The Breaffy House Resort played host to the 2019 GAA Irish WallBall Nationals, featuring Ireland’s best men’s and women’s WallBall stars. (All photos courtesy of GAA Handball- Story By David Fink, WPH Reporter)
Martin Mulkerrins entered the 2019 Irish WallBall Nationals as the #1 seed, having advanced to the Irish WallBall finals in three of the past four years. Mulkerrins would make it four of five, as the 2019 USHA Four Wall national finalist and 2018 GAA All Ireland 40×20 champion cruised past Irish Wallball junior star James Prentice en route to the final. “I suppose I’m still not playing the traditional WallBall game and taking the step back instead of flying the ball but happy to make the final,” stated Mulkerrins.
Former Irish junior champion and R48 #22 Sean Kerr dominated the bottom half of the bracket, showcasing his WallBall skills against Darren Doherty. “I was happy with my angle shots and shot selection (in the semifinal),” stated Kerr.
Kerr had defeated Mulkerrins in their previous WallBall encounter in 2018 but Mulkerrins, appearing in his second major singles final in seven days, was determined to not come up short in Mayo. Mulkerrins edged Kerr in a close first game and took control of the match from there, claiming his second Irish WallBall title. “The final was enthralling, as both players wowed the crowd with their athleticism,” stated GAA Handball.
“I suppose it depends who you ask,” stated Mulkerrins in reference to his performance. “I’m happy with the win anyway.”
Semifinals (20 minute matches or first to 31)
Kerr def Doherty 31-11
Finals: Mulkerrins def Kerr 15-11, 15-6
Like her Wallball male counterpart, Ni Churraoin entered the 2019 Irish WallBall Nationals on the heels of a finals appearance at the 2019 USHA Four Wall Nationals last weekend. CNC advanced to the final in the bottom bracket with two razor thin wins, ousting Pauline Gallagher 20-19 in the quarterfinals and needing a five-point tiebreaker against Ciara Mahon after being tied at 19 in the 20-minute timed semifinal.
Megan McCann authored the biggest upset of the weekend, dominating current WallBall World Champion and three-time defending Irish WallBall champion Martina McMahon in the semifinal. “I feel like my serve was really working against Martina,” stated McCann. “I hit a lot of serves close to the line. I started to panic a bit when Martina started to make her comeback because that’s what I did in my first round.
McCann appeared to take control in game one of the final against CNC in their first ever meeting, scoring three consecutive points on serve and first-strike kills to take an 11-9 lead in the best of three game match. McCann would serve at 12-10 but an unforced error handed CNC the serve and three consecutive McCann errors by one inch each opened the door for CNC who never looked back, scoring 20 of the final 27 points of the match to win her first major title in Ireland.
McCann def McMahon 31-17
Ni Churraoin def Mahon (19-19), 5-1
Finals: Ni Churraoin def McCann 15-12, 15-7
All photos courtesy of GAA Handball
To watch the 2019 Irish Walllball Nationals semifinals and finals, go to GAA Handball on Facebook HERE
For more info on the 2019 Irish WallBall Nationals, go to GAA Handball’s main page HERE
WPH Senior Writer