Last weekend the final members of the Irish team for the forthcoming World Handball championships were decided at the Open doubles trials in Kingscourt.
Hoping to add their names to the squad were Kells brothers, Patrick and Peter Funchion when they played recent intermediate doubles champions, Michael Hedigan and Daniel Relihan in the quarter-finals.
It was never going to be an easy task, and that was exactly how things turned out.
The Cork duo won the first set 21-7. The Funchions levelled by winning the second game 21-18.
In the deciding tie break set game the Munster duo advanced to the semi-finals by the narrowest of margins, winning 11-10.
Now that the complete Irish team has been selected for the championships, Kilkenny’s only representative travelling on the official ticket is Shane Dunne from Clogh.
He booked his place following a fantastic victory in the boys 19 and under nationals.
As the 40x20 season finally concluded at the weekend with the Open doubles trials, the Kells brothers, Patrick and Peter Funchion warmed up for a tilt at winning their place on the Irish team with a trip to New York for a USHA Pro Stop event.
The brothers have previous experience of the USHA tour and were well aware of the competition at the event.
Having come through the qualifying rounds they were ready to face the top players on the circuit in the main event.
Having won a fantastic match with the experienced David Fink, 15-11, 15-2, Patrick exited the event at the quarter-final stages to former USHA number one seed, Emmet Peixoto in two sets.
In his quarter-final tie Peter lost to Mando Ortiz 15-6, 14-16, 15-11 in what was the game of the weekend.
At the end of the weekend Patrick finished seventh overall and Peter took tenth place.
As the World Championships are scheduled for August there have been some changes to the normal handball calendar regarding some events.
Over the next month or so the bulk of the Wall Ball competitions will be completed.
Following a free weekend this Saturday and Sunday the first of the Wall Ball tournaments is on Bank Holiday weekend when the Irish Nationals will be held in Breaffy House, Mayo on May 5, 6 and 7.
One of the most popular events on the handball calendar, this event has grown considerably in recent years and will no doubt attract another large entry in all grades.
Following on from the nationals, the provincial Wall Ball championships are scheduled for mid-May and the popular Mount Talbot tournament is on the last weekend of the month.
All in all there will be a busy few weeks for the Wall Ball enthusiasts within the handball community.
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