DCU handballers shine in Lone Star State

Courtney Fitzmaurice

DCU’s Fiona Tully and Meadhbh Ní Dhálaigh won the Open Doubles final at the 68th USHA Collegiate Championship on February 23rd in Texas, making it a clean sweep in handball doubles for this season.

They beat Ciana Ní Churraoin and Maddie Kennedy in the final 21-5 21-17, which was satisfying for the pair as they lost to Ní Churraoin and her old partner last year. At one stage in the second game, they were down 17-10, but they kept their focus together and pushed on to win.

“We always knew playing against Ciana was gonna be tough,” Tully told The College View. “Because we lost it last year, it was our main aim to get it back this year. We got it back, so it was great.”

Despite the duo’s success, they were wary going into the Collegiate Open because they’d heard that University of Limerick’s Niamh Heffernan and Clionadh O’Connell, who they beat in the semi-final, were playing well. Tully and Ní Dhálaigh had never faced them before.

“I guess we had more experience and we were more confident playing,” she said. They won 21-9 21-12.

Tully and Ní Dhálaigh became partners in their first year of college. “We gelled really well and we get on really well, which is even better.”

The pair have only lost one of their nine matches together, losing in a tie breaker match last year in America. “We were actually fairly disappointed with that, but we’ve won everything since together, so I guess that’s an achievement in itself.”

Tully made it to the final of the women’s open for the third year in a row, beating Megan Mudd, O’Connell and Heffernan.

Tully faced Ciana Ní Churraoin in the final, the same girl she lost out to last year. Ní Churraoin is more experienced than Tully, and she lost by 21-11 21-3.

“She is a bit ahead of me at the minute,” she said. “Getting to the final was my main aim, and then playing against her was another aim. I did play well, but oh well.”

“Any time I play her I do get nervous, which I shouldn’t. I know she’s better, but I just need to get rid of the nervousness.”

Ní Dhálaigh won the ninth place playoff, beating NUIG’s Aisling Mullen. DCU came in second place in International Team of the Year, as they had many players in the open grades who did well.

Six other DCU athletes travelled to Texas, Aoife Holden, Niall Joyce, Oran Kiernan, Cillian Hogan, Colm Parnell and Kevin Diggins. Holden made it to the women’s open quarter final before losing out to Heffernan, while in the men’s competition Diggins lost out in a tie breaker 10-11 to CIT’s David Walsh.

In the men’s doubles, Joyce and Diggins reached the quarter final, as did Kiernan and Hogan who unfortunately lost by 21-12 21-13 to CIT’s Walsh and Adam Heffernan.

Courtney Fitzmaurice

Image Credit: DCU Handball