Anticipation is high ahead of Saturday's 2018 O'Neills All-Ireland Men's Singles SF's in Kingscourt.
We know that for the first time in four years the Final will not be a straight shoot out between Charly Shanks (Armagh) & Robbie McCarthy (Westmeath). Reigning champ Shanks is still in the mix, and rightly favourite given his Irish #1 national ranking. The immensely talented McCarthy however was sensationally shocked by Brendan Fleming (Cork) at the QF stages, meaning the Mullingar man will not be in the decider for the first time since 2011. An incredible feat in itself!
So there is a feeling of real openness about this years Championship, with only one former winner, one former finalist, and two players who haven't gone further than the SF's previously.
In the top SF is arguably the most enticing encounter between Shanks and Clare's Diarmuid Nash. Nash was thwarted by McCarthy in his only Final appearance back in 2014, and in his few encounters with Shanks thus far this season they have produced some epic tiebreak encounters. The contrast in styles lends to the excitement around this battle. Shanks is a real shooter, renowned for his aggressive style and famous spin shots. Nash is less of a shooter, more a player who controls the court with deceptive court craft.
The second SF sees two men vying for a first time appearance on the big stage. Galway's Martin Mulkerrins has fallen at this same hurdle for the past two years, where on both occasions the win was agonisingly in sight. He will start as favourite and if the Moycullen man gets his shooting range going then it will be difficult to look past him. However, standing in his way in the player of the Championship so far, Cork's Brendan Fleming. Fleming was a semi-finalist last year, but it has been his wins over Eoin Kennedy & Robbie McCarthy this year that has made people stand up and really take notice! The Ballydesmond man is riding the crest of wave, will be brimming with confidence, and will no doubt have a game plan up his sleeve to make it a hat trick of major wins!
Action kicks off from 2pm with the Ladies SF's, with the first Men's SF starting at 3pm approx.
Tickets available on the door; €10 Adults, €5 Juveniles/OAP's/Students.
*GAA Handball will be live streaming SF's on our Facebook page from 2pm*
Saturday 10th March
Kingscourt Ctr 1, Cavan @ 2pm
- SF2: Antrim (Aisling O’Reilly) v Limerick (Martina McMahon)
Kingscourt Ctr 2, Cavan @ 2pm
- SF1: Cork (Catriona Casey) v Kilkenny (Ciara Mahon)
Kingscourt Ctr 1, Cavan @ 3pm
- 3.00pm SF1: Armagh (Charly Shanks) v Clare (Diarmuid Nash)
- 4.00pm SF2: Galway (Martin Mulkerrins) v Cork (Brendan Fleming)