The Irish Junior GAA Handball team secured a clean sweep of blue ribband titles at this year's prestigious USA International Championship in Tucson, Arizona.
This is the last major international junior event to be staged before the World Championships 2012 and from an Irish perspective it certainly augurs well for the challenge for gold medals on home soil next October.
In the boys events from 15 & Under to 19 & Under, Ireland collected in all three events with title deciding wins over Mexico and USA in each.
Cork's Killian Carroll cemented his status as the current World number one in his field with a very impressive run in the main event as the Irish captain stormed to his second successive US National crown.
The Mallow clubman scored victories over Julian Armendaritz (St. Louis) 21-1, 21-6 in round one, Hector Facio (Kansas) in the quarters by 21-3, 21-3 and in the semi finals outgunned Julio Garcia (QC, USA) by 21-8, 21-8 to set up a title showdown with Daniel Cordova (Mexico). Carroll was again in blistering form in the final too and he duly claimed the honours on a 21-14, 21-5 score line.
At 17 & Under, Clare's Colin Crehan tasted his first International triumph with equally impressive precision as he overcame Mauricio Jimenez (San Jose) 21-2, 21-12 in round one, Matthew Chu (New York) 21-8, 21-13 in the quarter finals and then enjoyed a 21-11, 21-18 victory over Anthony Collado (California) in the penultimate tie of the series.
The Kilkishen club player was tested strongly in the second game of the final but exhibited exceptional skill to collect the honours with a 21-3, 21-16 win over Jacob Rodriguez (Santa Barbara, USA).
Clare are definitely celebrating a golden era for youth handball in the county at present and they added a second major title courtesy of another star of the future in Colin Corbett.
The Tulla player had wins over Carlos Espinosa (Arizona), Darragh Lyons (Ireland), Ramunas Ramanauskas by 21-7, 21-4 in the quarters and a 21-10, 21-14 win against Luis Bustos of California in the semis. His 21-13, 21-19 victory over Tyler Stoffell (Minnessota) was one of the best of the event and ensured a clean sweep for the Irish boys’ junior squad.
In the ladies’; Cork's Catriona Casey was a very hot favourite in the Girls 19 & Under event and captained what was possibly the strongest girls team ever to travel to the US event.
Casey was simply in unstoppable form and her key victories over Brittyn Bidegain (San Diego), Cheryl Chen (New York), Shirley Chen (New York) and Maleyna Moriel (Texas) ensured another impressive title win for the gifted Ballydesmond teenager.
Roscommon's Lauren O'Riordain was equally impressive and her key victory over San Diego's Brittyn Bidegain guaranteed her the Girls 17 & Under honours while Galway's Ciana Ní Churraoin overcame Rosita Howard (Arizona), Myroslava Koval (Calgary) and Tyrone's Maeve McElduff to claim the Girls 15 & Under title for a second time.
Meanwhile, the trip was also a successful one for Tyrone's Elisa McCrory who captured her first International title with a win in the Girls 13 & Under event.
In the doubles, Killian Carroll and Gabhainn McCrystall (Tyrone) were denied in the Boys 19 & Under final but Ireland did collect with two wins at 15 and 17 & Under. Colin Crehan made a clean sweep in the 17s when he teamed up with Cork's Pa Herlihy to win the doubles honours, defeating Tyler Stoffell and Pol Clarke in the final 21-16, 21-5.
At 15 & Under, Corbett powered to the doubles title alongside Tyrone's Johnny Woods after denying Meath pairing of Evan Sheridan and Robert Fox in the final.