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McCarthy claims US Open handball title

Updated: Tuesday, 25 Oct 2011 22:12

Robbie McCarthy - 2011 US Open champion
Robbie McCarthy - 2011 US Open champion

Westmeath's Robbie McCarthy became the third Irish player in history to secure the US Open title at the Fountain Valley Sports club in California.

The 23-year-old held his nerve, after he trailed fellow Irish player, Armagh's Charlie Shanks 7-9 in the tiebreak. McCarthy was able to regain service and grab four unanswered points to seal a dramatic victory on the biggest stage.

Shanks will be devastated to lose such an enthralling match up with so much to play for but he will take considerable comfort from his previous tiebreak wins in the quarters and semis over the 2010 winner, Texan, Alan Garner and the highly impressive Louis Moreno from Tucson, Arizona.

Consolation for Shanks is the mantle of being the highest seeded Irish player on the current international rankings due to his recent performances in the States.

The New York based Shanks will certainly be one of the favourites to go all the way in Ireland next October when the World Championships are up for grabs.

McCarthy looked set to clinch his first of many senior events in the USA as he took the opening game 21-15.

The second proved very tight but it was Shanks who was able to manufacture the vital scores at 17-17 to go on and edge it 21-18.

Two unforced errors at the end of game 2 from the usually assured McCarthy showed the first sign of nerves creeping into the champion elect's game.

Tiredness seemed to be the main factor for both players to overcome playing at the end of a two hour gruelling encounter which had everything for the non-partisan American crowd.

With fatigue influencing exchanges, it was McCarthy who broke clear and he amassed a 3-0 lead followed by 5-1 advantage in the tiebreak. He was edging closer to his dream goal but once again, Shanks dug deep.

His previous tie break victories in the earlier rounds must have given Shanks a great confidence boost as he seemed to get a second wind.

The 28 year old Clann Eireann club man was able to turn a four point deficit into a two point gain and was now in the driving seat.

But McCarthy remained focussed and levelled the third at 9-9 with an instinctive left fly kill in the left corner. That shot spurred him on to victory and McCarthy managed to keep control of the service zone and took the next 2 points to record his first US Open win.

Cavan’s Paul Brady returned to competitive action for the first time in the USA in over a year and partnered Michael Finnegan to the doubles crown.

The current Irish champions proved too hot to handle for USA’s Vince Munoz and Marcos Chavez and ran out easy victors in the end 21-14, 21-5.


2010 ladies champion, Antrim’s Aisling Reilly fell short of making it a clean sweep in the elite brackets for the Irish as she lost out to Megan Mehilos of Lombard, Illinois 11-3 in the tiebreak.
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