Cavan’s Brady is on top of the world again with just three months to go before his greatest test of all in the World Handball Championships in The Citywest International Events Arena, Dublin, this October 11th-21st.
Brady was one of a number of top Ireland players who made the journey to Los Cabaleros, California, to take on the cream of International 40×20 handball in the US 40×20 Handball Nationals. His ultimate title success, which saw him secure a phenomenal 7th US title win in 8 years, was part of the greatest ever record of Irish travelling players to the USA blue ribband event.
The Mens Open saw the top pros from the USA entering proceedings with big ambitions but in the top half of the draw, Brady was in imperious form as he powered his way past Nelson Quintero (Miami), Suhn Lee (Illinois) and Andy Nett (Minnesota) before getting the better of David Fink (Pittsburgh) by 21-12, 21-11 in the semi final stages.
In the other half of the draw all eyes, pre-tournament, were focussed on Luis Moreno (New Mexico), who is the only player since 2004 to have defeated Paul Brady in singles handball. However, Armagh’s Charly Shanks, has been competing in the USA for the past twelve months and made that experience count in some style. The Clann Eireann clubman defeated Dylan Hernandez (California) and Johnathan Iglesias (Florida) before causing a real stir with a 21-10, 17-21, 11-0 win over number 3 seed, Sean Lenning (Arizona) in the quarter-finals. Shanks then drew USA number 1, Luis Moreno, and delivered the result of the championship when he bolted to an incredible 21-19, 21-10 victory over the recent US Race4Eight winner.
That set up another title showdown involving Brady and Shanks, only the second time an all Irish final manifested in the US Nationals event. The duo contested two consecutive All Ireland senior finals in 2010 and 2011 and on this occasion, despite a tremendous valiant effort, this was a bridge too far for the Armagh man. Paul Brady coasted to a sensational 21-10, 21-10 title deciding win on this occasion, sending out another decisive signal of intent ahead of this year’s World Senior Championships.
Brady will go into the World Senior Championships this October now on a sustained unbeaten run for 8 years in Ireland and will chase an unprecedented fourth consecutive World Senior gold medal. The Worlds in 2012 are been billed as the most high profile and exciting event in the history of the sport and there is no doubt that the thousands of spectators anticipated at the arena, will also be treated to play by one of the greatest to have graced the game.
Elsewhere in the USA, Kilkenny’s effervescent legend, Michael ‘Ducksy’ Walsh secured another major prize when he defeated. At 46 years of age, the 38 times All Ireland senior champion continues to defy the odds and his brilliant win in the Mens 35+ Singles is testament to his continued drive and commitment to the game. He defeated Eddie Marez (Cal) 21-7, 21-5 before denying Joe Leonis (Reno, NV) 21-6, 21-4 and continued his run with an impressive 21-7, 21-6 victory in the final against Raul Jasso (San Jose).
Aisling Reilly (Antrim) and Marianna Rushe (Roscommon), at the time of going to press, are into the Ladies US National Open final, Reilly having defeated US top seeds, Bailey Chandler (Minnesota) and Samantha England (Canada) while Rushe overcame Jennifer Hinman (Oregon), US number 1, Tracy Davis (Arizona) and Jennifer Schmitt (Texas).
Wexford’s Paul Lambert claimed his first win in US Nationals competition, winning the Mens A Singles while Waterford’s David Walsh, claimed the Mens B title. Galway’s Morgan Darcy fell at the final hurdle of a hugely competitive Mens Veteran Super Maters (65+) while Kilkenny’s Peter Funchion reached the final of the Boys 19 & Under singles.