Killian Carroll causes shock and awe in senior ranks for Mallow Handball Club

The third annual John Gaffney Memorial Handball Tournament took place two weeks ago in Ballaghadereen and Charlestown courts in Co. Mayo.

This year’s tournament had a special significance as it was recently awarded a senior ranking tournament status from G.A.A. Handball Ireland. Thus players had to qualify to play, ensuring that only the most in-form players were to be found on court. With coveted ranking points on offer, large crowds turned up, expecting top class handball and they were not disappointed.

Killian Carroll, still in his 18th year, qualified and dared to do battle with the ‘big boys’ in the senior ranks. The Mallow native enthralled the crowds all weekend with his blinding pace, never-say-die attitude and high skill levels. Killian clashed with local hopes Stephen Cooney and Dessie Keegan. Killian’s battle with Cooney was one of youth versus youth as Cooney, still in his early twenties and in the top bracket at national level, fought hard but Killian was more adept at closing out rallies.

Dessie Keegan was widely expected to give William a lesson in what it is to be an actual senior player. In the first game Keegan, who is ranked no. 1 at national level, showed his class and power and won out 21-16. Killian raised his game in the second game and with Keegan playing with power and hitting low hard pass shots past Killian, his pace around the court meant he gave an exhibition of retrieving lost causes, and he completely demoralised Keegan and won 21-16 in the second and 11-2 in the tiebreaker.

In the third game he was drawn against Michael Cregan, Wicklow, another top contender for senior honours but it had to be abandoned due to injury to Cregan’s ankle.

Killian was now into the final against Robbie McCarthy, Westmeath, who already has won All Ireland titles at senior level. With McCarthy’s power and Killian’s pace it was a real spectacle of handball. McCarthy was dominant in the first game, displaying his performance of shots to close out the game 21-9.

In the second game Killian proved he is much more than an outstanding minor. He had McCarthy under pressure, forcing him to play at a pace he was not comfortable with, leading him into errors in his game. At one stage Killian led 17-15 and looked like a winner but McCarthy’s experience saw him through 21-17.

It was a magnificent performance by Killian and he really endeared himself to the spectators who at one stage gave him a standing ovation, well deserved.

It’s onwards and upwards from now on and we wish Killian much success.