The story of the Brady/Finnegan Doubles partnership is stuff of legend really. The Cavan men at 36 & 40 years of age are still the marquee names in Irish Senior Doubles Handball, and this Saturday, in the showpiece Finals at the 2017 O’Neills Doubles Festival Weekend in Kingscourt, they bid for their 11th title.
Since their first Final appearance in 2000, the duo have appeared in 16 Finals (including 2017) in an incredible run of consistency, but they don’t show any signs of letting up and the desire is still strong to continue adding to their collections.
“Winning is the main thing that really helps sustain the motivation to keep going for so long. I think we have played in the last 14 finals now. But the thrill and excitement of playing in big nights in front of big crowds are special too.”
The fact that they have not held the title since 2014 will no doubt also play a pivotal role in igniting the desire. They reached the last two finals, and despite starting as favourites, fell short on both occasions to Meath in 2015 & to Dublin last year.
Thus far in their 2017 campaign they have came through tests against Wexford (Gavin Buggy & Daniel Kavanagh) 21-8, 21-16, Galway (Martin Mulkerrins & Diarmuid Mulkerrins) 21-11, 21-15, and Cork (Tony Healy & Brendan Fleming) 21-11, 21-15, winning in two straight games in each occasion.
“So far our play this year has gone well and we are raring to go. We have done all our training and have no injuries so all is good.”
Standing in their way in Saturday’s Final however is a new generation Doubles partnership, which certainly looks to have the potential of being future multiple champions. Clare’s Diarmaid Nash (26) & Colin Crehan (21) are both very accomplished Singles players, and pair up for the first time together having been impressive in reaching the final in their maiden attempt.
“The two lads are great players! Nash is top 4 in Ireland and Colin is young but is on his way up there as well so we expect a titanic battle.”
“Our primary objective is to simply just focus on ourselves and getting that right first and foremost. We have made a few changes so making them work is key. One more big performance and we fully believe we will be back where we want to be as the All-Ireland champions. But as I said, it’s going to be another battle!”
An additional bonus for the more experienced Cavan men will be the prospect of a packed home venue, but with that brings the added pressure to succeed. Will this have an affect?
“It will be great to play at home in a final. It has been a long time and we hope we have a large and noisy home crowd. Of course we will have nerves, but it’s a good type of nerves that get you up for the match.”