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Big guns safely through to SF’s

Former champions Martin Mulkerrins and Robbie McCarthy along with number one seed Diarmaid Nash remain in the hunt for the O'Neill's All-Ireland 40x20 Senior Singles title following the last eight stage at the weekend.

Making up the final four is Kilkenny's Patrick Funchion, who was handed a walkover after Armagh's Charly Shanks aggravated a shoulder injury and was forced to withdraw.

Shanks had twinged his shoulder in training approximately 10 days before his round of 16 clash with Tipperary's Ger Coonan and while he survived a close battle against the Ballina man, the Lurgan right-hander was unable to proceed in the championship, meaning Funchion – who showed excellent form in his defeat of Colin Crehan the previous week – will now take his place in his first semi-final.

The Kilkenny man will now meet Nash, the form player at present having made the finals of all four pre-championship tournaments, who will be aiming to make his second Senior Singles final after he overcame veteran Eoin Kennedy in straight games (21-15, 21-16).

Nash, a regular sparring partner of Kennedy's, came through a stern examination from the 2002 champion to march on.

Defending champion Mulkerrins, meanwhile, will square off against three-time winner Robbie McCarthy of Westmeath in a mouthwatering semi-final after both impressed in their quarters.

Moycullen's Mulkerrins was an impressive 21-8, 21-5 winner over the experienced Gavin Buggy of Wexford, with McCarthy turning back Peter Funchion on a 21-8, 21-10 scoreline.

Both semi-finals are finely poised; Nash (27) will be a warm fancy to overcome Funchion although a win for the Leinster man is by no means out of the question while the McCarthy-Mulkerrins showdown could not be more finely poised.

Elsewhere, in the O'Neill's Ladies Senior Singles, there were no major upsets in the quarter-finals, with the leading trio of Martina McMahon (Limerick), Catriona Casey (Cork) and Aisling Reilly (Antrim) all easing into the semi-finals, where they will be joined by Roscommon's Fiona Tully.

Holder McMahon saw off highly-rated Kildare teenager Leah Doyle on a 21-7, 21-1 scoreline, with Reilly defeating another teenager, Sinéad Meagher of Tipperary, 21-1, 21-5.

Cork's Casey sent out a message of intent when she mercilessly dispatched her own doubles partner Aishling O'Keeffe (21-0, 21-2) while, in the tie of the round, Tully defeated Kilkenny's Ciara Mahon in a close contest, 21-20, 21-8.

Doyle also secured her place in the ladies Minor Singles final where she will take on Galway's Niamh Heffernan, conqueror of Tyrone player Mairead Fox.

The Men's Minor Singles will be a Clare v Monaghan clash. The Farney's Eoghan McGinnity, recently-crowned Monaghan senior champion, saw off Mayo's Lorcan Conlon while Banner man Mark Rodgers had an eyecatching win over Wexford's Josh Kavanagh in a pair of 21-8 games.

It was a profitable afternoon all round for Rodgers, who struck 1-13 (including two crucial injury time frees) for Scariff/Ogonnelloe hurlers against Cratloe in the Clare U21A Hurling Championship on the same afternoon.