Martin Mulkerrins (UCD) and Ciana Ní Churraoin (UL) were the winners in the Men’s Open and Women’s Open in the 60x30 intervarsities in Kilkenny last weekend, while UCD had a clean sweep of the team competitions, winning the A and B categories.
The weekend's events saw 43 players travel to Kilkenny to take part. Credit must be given to each and every one of these individuals, as they played an important role in not only the competitive side of things, but also in ensuring the smooth running of the tournament from start to finish.
Coming into the weekend, UCD were favourites to take the A team event, and with three out of four of their team making the singles semi finals, they looked on course to overthrow the standing champions UL.
The team of Martin Mulkerrins, Brian Mahon, Galen Riordan and Terry McElvaney, justified their automatic bye into the finals by easing past a determined UL team comprising of Michael Hedigan, John "Bosco" Hurley, Liam Bradshaw and Daniel Relihan.
The B team final was also contested by UCD and UL, and in a repeat of the A final, UCD claimed the honours.
The women's doubles competition, was won by DCU's new pairing of Aishling O’Keeffe and Rachel Hogan.
In the final they denied a tried and tested TCD partnership of Ciara Mahon and Lisa McKenna, who were looking to secure this event for the third year in a row.
A team winners
The men’s open final saw UCD being strongly represented, as Martin Mulkerrins and Brian Mahon battled it out for the top prize.
Coming into the final, both players were in devastating form with Martin seeing off challenges from John ‘Bosco’ Hurley, Mark Nally and Gaelan Riordan; while Brian, impressing in his first intervarsity tournament, overcame UL’s Daniel Relihan and Michael Hedigan.
In the beginning of the first game, the crowd witnessed an array of deep-court kills from Mulkerrins, giving him a 10-0 lead before Mahon could get himself on the scoreboard.
To his credit, Mahon managed to claw his way back into the game, but Mulkerrins pressed his early lead and finished out game one 21-11.
Mulkerrins’ experience showed in game two, as he began the same way he did the first and taking an early lead.
While Mahon made some impressive gets, Mulkerrins proved to be the more clinical of the two and he took the second game 21-6.
While the collegiate veteran once again showed his skill and composure, there is no doubt that UCD’s Brian Mahon will be one to watch for the coming intervarsity season.
Men's Open finalists Martin Mulkerrins and Brian Mahon
The Women’s Open Final saw last year’s champion Ciara Mahon (TCD) come up against UL’s Ciana Ní Churraoin.
Mahon clearly carried her 2014 form into this year’s competition, as she saw off DCU’s Rachel Hogan and UL’s Niamh Dunne to reach the final.
Ní Churraoin, a new face on the collegiate 60x30 scene, saw off a stern challenge from last year’s finalist - DCU’s Aisling O’Keeffe.
The first game saw the reigning champion gain a strong foothold as she produced a number of quality shots and serves, and jumped to a 12-2 lead.
Ní Churraoin made somewhat of a comeback, but the blistering start proved too much, and Mahon seemed well on her way to defending her title as she closed out the first match 21-14.
Game two started in an opposite fashion, with Ní Churraoin charging out of the blocks, obtaining an 8-3 lead.
However, this was to be a much tighter affair, as Mahon produced some remarkable shots and the players were soon level at 10-10.
The momentum was most certainly swinging in Mahon’s favour as she pushed on to take a 18-14 lead, but Ní Churraoin made a late surge in an attempt to force a tie-breaker and the game finished 21-18.
The tie-breaker was a nail-biting experience. Ní Churraoin appeared to have carried her momentum from game two into the decider, as she went 9-2 up.
However Mahon, determined to have her say, remained calm and composed throughout. Both players produced some great kills and passing shots, but it was Mahon who took a 10-9 lead in the closing moments.
The game seemed to have swung in Mahon’s favour, but Ní Churraoin broke the serve, and closed out the game on an 11-10 scoreline.
Women's Open winner Ciana Ní Churraoin
While these games were the main events of the weekend, the quality of handball produced across all grades is to be applauded, and there is every reason to look forward to the coming season of collegiate handball.
The Irish Collegiate Handball Association (ICHA) would like to extend a big thank you to Talbots Inch, Kilfane, GarryHill, Mothel and Clogh Handball clubs for hosting the 2015 60x30 intervarsities.
All the tea, biscuits and fantastic hospitality were greatly appreciated. No doubt that in future this competition will see a return to the courts of Kilkenny and Carlow.
Next up on the ICHA calendar is the 40x20 doubles competition which will take place in the St. Joseph's Club in Wexford on the 20th-21st November.
A: UCD defeated UL
B: UCD defeated UL
Open: Martin Mullkerrins(UCD) defeated Brian Mahon(UCD)
A: Cian Ó Dálaigh(DCU) defeated Cian Counihan(ITT)
B: Ryan Treanor(DCU) defeated Martin Meagher(UCD)
Open: Ciana Ní Churraoin (UL) defeated Ciara Mahon (TCD)
A: Rachel Hogan (DCU) defeated Aishling O'Keefe (DCU)
B: Lisa McKenna (TCD) defeated Niamh Farrell (DCU)
Doubles: Aishling O'Keefe/Rachel Hogan (DCU) defeated Ciara Mahon/Lisa McKenna (TCD)