Roscommon has long been one of the hotspots for ladies handball, with the St Coman’s club in particular producing many champions.
Since the Ladies Minor Softball Singles championship began in 1994, no less than six Roscommon players – C Heneghan, Lorraine Noone, Lydia Doolan (three times), Marianna Rushe, Leona Doolin and Fiona Tully (twice) have got their hands on the cup.
This Saturday, Carragh Kennedy aims to become the seventh when she takes on Clare’s Leah Minogue in the All-Ireland final in Carragh’s home court.
Having defeated Clodagh Nic Con Mhidhe (Tyrone) and Emma Kinnane (Galway) to date in the competition, Carragh comes into the final in good form but expects a tough contest against the Banner woman.
“We played in the All-Ireland semi-final last year. I won well in the first game and in the second game she came back and really got into it and won it. It went to a tiebreaker and I managed to beat her in the end.”
That game was the delayed 2020 U16 Singles, which Kennedy won outright to add to her U15 40x20 Singles title, previous U16 title in the big alley and colleges All-Ireland title with clubmate Siobhan Treacy.
She has been playing handball since she was in national school.
“In primary school, Fiona Tully’s mother, Mary, was a secretary in the school and she said to Mam that I should start playing handball and that’s how it all started, I went down to St Coman’s and started playing.”
While she plays football as well, lining out at full-back with Roscommon Gaels, handball is Carragh’s number one sport.
“I usually train four or five days a week but now that’s it’s coming up to the All-Ireland, I go into the court every day. I train with Fiona Tully and Siobhán Treacy. I also train with the Carthy brothers, Rory and Eoghan, I usually train with them on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and then a few other people like Colm Walshe as well.
“I play all codes but 60x30 is by far my favourite. I like powering the ball around, that’s the main reason.”
Last weekend, Carragh paired up with Tully in the Senior Softball Doubles, losing in a tiebreaker against Limerick’s Martina McMahon and Aisling Shanahan.
“It was a great experience, especially because we were playing Martina McMahon, one of the top players. I was so glad that Fiona asked me as well because I’ve always looked up to Fiona,” she said.
Having completed her Leaving Cert at Roscommon Community College, she will pick up her results on Friday before her thoughts turn to the big match the following day.
“This will be the biggest match of my career so far,” she agreed.
“In the days coming up to it, I will be a bit nervous but when it comes to the day of it, I just completely focus on my game and that’s it.”
As for the future, she hopes to add many more titles to her collection and emulate her clubmate, and recent doubles partner, Fiona.
“I hope to go on and play senior handball. I love handball and I hope to keep at it for as long as I can,” she said.
By Paul Fitzpatrick
Softball Singles Finals - Saturday 3rd Sept 2022
At St Coman's HC, Roscommon, from 12pm
- Girls Minor: Leah Maguire (Clare) v Carragh Kennedy (Ros)
- Boys Minor: Kyle Jordan (KK) v Cormac Finn (Sligo)
- Mens Senior: Robbie McCarthy (Westmeath) v Gary McConnell (Meath)
- Ladies Senior: Martina McMahon v Catriona Casey (Cork)