A Story By GAA Handball @ gaahandball.ie-
In the build up to the staple event of the Ladies Senior Singles Championship, the 2018 O’Neills 40×20 All-Ireland Senior Singles Final, GAA Handball spoke with Cork’s Catriona Casey.
After a brief congratulation on her Semi-Final success over Kilkenny’s Ciara Mahon (21-1, 21-0), Casey is humble in her acknowledgement. Reiterating her sentiments in her post Semi-Final encounter interview, she notes again that the score line does not reflect the game. She is still happy with her overall performance, but, like a true champion, she still has areas that she wants to improve on for the big event.
However, one would assume that such a win must have a positive effect on her confidence moving forward to an All-Ireland Final. Dismissing this regard, Casey is adamant that she treats each game as a new occasion. She mentions that McMahon is a great player and that she will have to play to the best of her ability to overcome the challenge before her as;
Past encounters will count for nothing.
On that note, Casey and McMahon have now faced each other numerous times in all codes of Handball. For the majority of these, Casey has come out the champion. Surely the pressure is on the Ballydesmond star’s shoulders to perform on this occasion. With a cool head and a glimmer in her eye, Casey states that there is going to be pressure in any major final, regardless, however, her intention is to channel that pressure positively. She continues by saying that both players have learned from each other in the past and know what to expect, it will just come down to who performs on the day.
Casey has proved that she is more than capable of performing when it counts, having appeared in a Senior Singles All-Ireland final 5 times, and winning 3 of those. Surely Court 1 in Kingscourt HC, must feel like a home alley for the Cork native at this point. Astute in her observations, she remarks that she has not played there since last year’s Championship and as McMahon has centre stage experience they will both have a level playing field. Casey does follow by saying;
It’s a very true court in a fabulous facility and I very much look forward to being back on Court 1 for Finals day.
Moving to what lies beyond All-Ireland glory, this year’s extra incentive of Team Ireland Captaincy, GAA Handball asked the reigning All-Ireland champ if she was including this aspect in her mental preparations for the feat that lies before her. Again, with a steely resoluteness in her voice, she answered simply that it is an ‘extra bonus’. Noting that whatever way the chips may fall, she will be travelling to Minnesota to compete, but, it would be an honour to represent Team Ireland in the process.
Finally, to reach the almost dizzying height of success that Casey has already achieved at her young age – GAA Handball was eager to find out what Handball means to the Corkonian, her answer was no less than you’d expect;
Handball is my passion; I love to watch it and I love to play it.
Adding that she has put a lot in to the sport at this point, but has also gotten so much back; close friendships, exciting opportunities and most importantly, life lessons about the importance of discipline and resilience. She concludes the interview by stating that she hopes to be involved in Handball for a long time to come, and is very grateful to all who have helped her along the way.
We all indeed look forward to what is sure to be an electric encounter between Cork’s Catriona Casey and Limerick’ Martina McMahon. Coverage will start from 3:30pm on GAA Handball’s Facebook page, for those of you lucky enough to be making the trip to Kingscourt HC, Cavan, make sure to pre-order your tickets by clicking the button below:
… A Story by GAA Handball at gaahandball.ie
With all the commotion and build up that goes with the run up to a pinnacle sporting event, GAA Handball spoke to the always cool-headed Limerick star, Martina McMahon.
McMahon is no stranger to the bright lights of All-Ireland final day, yet, she still has not captured the crown of the small alley. This Saturday will see her second attempt at ousting the reigning champion and always clinical, Catriona Casey, and in the process, provide spectators with what is sure to be the game of a lifetime.
McMahon had an outstanding semi-final victory against current World Champion and Irish Number 3 seed Aisling Reilly; 21-15, 21-12, Saturday last in Court 1, Kingscourt HC, Cavan. When asked how she was feeling coming off the bat of such a win, McMahon was elated in her response;
I’m delighted to say the least, Reilly is no easy feat.
McMahon went on to mention that coming into the semi-final, she knew that it was going to be a difficult task to overcome, especially with it being a World Championship year and with Team Captaincy at stake. And to have the reigning world champion and the 2015 Team Captain standing her way, McMahon knew it was going to be tough. She reflected on the pair’s most recent encounter which resulted in an 11-10 tiebreak win for McMahon at the 2017 GAA Handball 40×20 Nationals, and knew that the game at hand was going to be tough. On her victory, McMahon stated that she is “happy to have gotten over the line on this occasion and is looking forward to the weekend ahead.”
With such a solid win in an All-Ireland Championship semi-final behind her, surely the Shanonsider native will have a surge of confidence coming into the arena against Casey. However, quick to remember last year’s encounter McMahon states that; “We all know that at last year’s All-Ireland final I didn’t show up, that’s not taking away from Catriona, my head was in a scattered place.” This year, McMahon notes that she has “a more structured routine, whereby less is more”. On the game itself, McMahon is resolute in her approach:
I’m going to give it my best shot, there’s a double achievement at stake and I am not going to pass up on this offer too easily!
Speaking of confidence, the psychological aspect of the sport seems to play a large part in McMahon’s training and preparations. In previous interviews, the Broadford HC athlete has mentioned that she has never felt ‘at home’ in other alleys. On this, McMahon claims that in the semi-final she didn’t think about where she was playing, “I took it as being me and the four walls, just like any other alley. I felt a lot more confident with my performance and I now know I can put that to bed from herein.”
Transcending this positivity into her final preparations will be paramount for McMahon’s success, in acknowledgement of this, she states;
If your head isn’t in the game, how is your body supposed to be?
Despite the strives that she has made, she does note that there is always room for improvement and all the work that she has been doing needs to be brought into the alley this weekend. Reflecting once more on what a win this year would mean, McMahon is adamant that the chance to captain Team Ireland is part of her arsenal when it comes to motivating herself for this game and is trying to use that to the best of her advantage.
Finally, to walk the path that Martina McMahon has paved for herself, it takes a tremendous amount of time, talent and tenacity. When GAA Handball asked what the game of Handball means to the Limerick Lady, she replied with a very heartfelt answer; “They say life is for living, well I wouldn’t be living if I didn’t hit a ball off a wall. Be it at home or out in the garden with my dog, I touch a handball every day, to me it’s more than a hobby, it’s a way of life.”
Of course, most athletes accredit their success to those around them. McMahon is no different as she states that; “I am thankful for the group of people around me (they know who they are), they have helped me become the player that I am today. Also, I must compliment GAA Handball and their continuous hard work in promoting and growing the game that we love.”
Whatever side you are batting for in the upcoming decider, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that this is a game not to be missed.
The Ladies Senior Singles All-Ireland final will take place Saturday 17th March at approximately 4:30pm in Kingscourt HC, Cavan. To witness what is sure to be an exhibition on how Handball should be played, make sure to purchase your tickets by clicking the button below;