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Funchion aiming for first semi-final appearance

There is a long history of brothers competing at the top of Irish handball and the tradition is currently being upheld by the Funchions from the Kells club in Kilkenny, writes Paul Fitzpatrick.

Both Peter and Patrick have established themselves among the best players in the country and both will be in action tomorrow in the All-Ireland Senior Singles quarter-finals; Patrick meets Robbie McCarthy and Peter takes on a familiar foe in Colin Crehan.

“I’m hoping to try and get the better of him this time. I think the last two times we played, he beat me. I think that maybe the longer we are in the alley, the better it might be for me. He’s a shooter so he could have you in and out very quickly,” Peter told

“I think I have the fitness. I’m not saying Colin isn’t very fit, it’s just the longer I can keep him in the alley, I’d be hoping to maybe wear him down a little bit. We’ll see can I make him uncomfortable, I have to try to keep him out of the service box because he will serve and kill, it could be two quick games but I’ll hope to make it as long as possible.

“It’s important to keep him out of the service box and out of the front court because he will shoot all day. I’ll try to keep him in the back of the court and drag on the rallies. I think it’s going to be a close game no matter what, maybe a bit of luck on the day will make the difference.”

Peter had a bye this far after Ger Coonan withdrew due to a hand injury but a close contest against his brother in the Leinster final was sharpened the blade for this weekend.

“It was disappointing to get a walkover but Ger was genuinely hurt so there’s nothing that can be done there. As it turned out, I had a cracker of a game with Patrick. In training you might only go 80, 90pc but when it was a competition, the two of us really went as hard as we could. Hopefully that will stand to me this weekend and will stand to Patrick against Robbie.”

Peter beat Kevin Diggins to qualify for that provincial final, which was played in Kells before a large crowd.

“Two brothers, same club, Leinster final. It was great, there were a lot of juveniles there looking at it,” he said.

Over the years, his main sparring partner has been Patrick but this season, Peter has trained with a lot of different players.

“This year I out-sourced other games, lads from Cavan, boys from Cork, a variety of lads. If you play the same fella, you know each other’s games inside out. Training has been going fairly well this year.

“I haven’t got past the quarter-final stages yet so hopefully this time. Time is getting a little more precious now as well, I have a young fella, time is tight but I’m trying to make it work. Especially in the doubles, we are always within touching distance so I think if we keep training hard, keep appearing, eventually things will click.

“The Cork tournament didn’t really go well for me, I got beaten by Daniel Relihan, he had a fantastic tournament. I’m hoping to do better, at this level, all the games will be close. If I can go in and stick to my game plan, hopefully things will go right for me. I normally don’t tend to do well in Kingscourt so a different venue this time might favour me, we’ll see.”