Few players of 18 years of age in their chosen sport’s discipline have accomplished what Cork’s Catriona Casey has accumulated inside her short handballing career to date.
In one of our earliest editions SportsNewsIreland brought you news of the success achieved by Ms Casey in the U.S.H.A Juniors at that time taking part in the U16 event. She has since won a title in the U.S on each of her subsequent Christmas visits to the United State – and that success story has carried on in Ireland.
The Ballydesmond teenager has just added another impressive accolade to her ever increasing list of honours when representing UL at the Irish Intervarsity Championships held at venues across Cavan, Meath and Monaghan.
Casey accounted for Mayo’s Pauline Gallagher 21-4 21-11 in the quarters before ousting Roscommon’s Marianna Rushe, 21-13, 21-14, in the semi-finals. In her first year at this level, Casey then produced her finest handball over the weekend to end Down’s Lorraine Havern’s hopes of taking the ladies division as the composed Casey won out in two straight games 21-11, 21-6.
“I was conscious that I wasn’t in top form going into this event so I had little expectations of actually winning. As the tournament progressed, I gained confidence and played my best game in the final. I knew that I would need to kill the ball against Lorraine because she is very quick around the court so I just went for it.”
“It was a big step up from the Colleges handball I was playing just a year ago, and it’s great that there was such a high entry in the ladies competition in particular,” said Casey.
Casey who only returned from Tucson, Arizona at the start of January with the 19 and under USA Junior Nationals title safely negotiated, will once again make the trip across the Atlantic later this month.
This time around, Casey will challenge for the 60th USHA National Collegiate Championships which will be held at Missouri State University in Springfield on the 22nd of February.
“I am heading out to Missouri for the USHA Collegiates in a couple of weeks and again, I’m not sure what to expect as all my experience in the States has been at junior level. This is very exciting and will hopefully be good preparation for the upcoming Irish championships. I know that Brooklyn’s Sandy Ng reached the final last year so she will obviously be a threat. I will also be competing in the doubles with Lisa Loughnane (Clare).”
Casey has already shown that she can compete with and beat some of the best female stars in the world and she is sure to be in the reckoning for the ladies world senior crown this October when the World Handball Championships descend on the CityWest Arena in Dublin.
The Cork woman lost out narrowly to Kerry’s Maria Daly in the third game of the Munster senior final a fortnight ago 21-17 after she’d dominated the GAA Handball senior champion, Daly in the opening game 21-9.
Currently ranked at six in the latest official Irish rankings released in mid-week, Casey is climbing the National seeding at a rapid rate and she is relishing the chance to stake a claim for the Irish ladies title.
“I am looking forward to the All-Ireland Senior Championship. I was disappointed to lose out in the Munster Open but then again I know that Maria Daly is a very skilful player. This has given me a better idea of where I am at. Last year I think I put too much pressure on myself so this time round I hope to enjoy it more and the main aim would be to progress and make the semi- final at least. Having said that, I know there are of course other great players in the running, particularly Fiona Shannon (Antrim) and Aisling Reilly (Antrim), so this will be no easy task.”
Recently crowned Munster victor, Daly remains at the pinnacle as the current number one ranked female prepares for a 3-in-a-row in the championship. The Ballymcelligott star is 8 points clear of Antrim’s Shannon who came back to win the Irish 40×20 Nationals, the Golden Gloves and the Ulster Open in her last 3 tournament appearances, while Aisling Reilly and Marianna Rushe follow closely.
Meanwhile in the men’s bracket at ICHA 40×20 championships, Limerick’s Seamus O’Carroll continued in the winning habit as he toppled a very impressive third level field to secure the silverware for the second time in three seasons. O’Carroll recently scooped his first Munster 40×20 senior singles title and is now ranked jointly at number 13 but the Cappagh club man is assured to make dramatic movements upwards in the coming months.
Cavan’s Paul Brady who chases a remarkable eighth consecutive senior gold medal this term remains in poll position at number one and is a full 20 ranking points clear of his nearest rival, Robbie McCarthy of Westmeath.