Kilkenny’s Aoife Holden will enter uncharted territory in her handball career this Saturday in Crinkle when she meets reigning champion Martina McMahon in what will be Holden’s first Senior Singles semi-final.
A former Intermediate Singles and Doubles winner and also a Minor Doubles All-Ireland medallist, Aoife excels in the traditional code. She powered her way to the penultimate stage when seeing off experienced Cork woman Aishling O’Keeffe (11-21, 21-20, 11-4) in the quarter-final last week.
“I was delighted to get the win last weekend as I lost to Aisling the previous year,” Holden told GAAhandball.ie.
“It was a tough game, I probably didn't play as well as I would have liked but that's how some games go. Things started to go better for me in the tiebreaker and I got a good serve going - that was key to winning it.”
The new tiebreaker format is a novel change this year but suited her last weekend.
“I don't mind the tiebreaker to 11 - it does take some getting used to and a good start is crucial. The game can slip away from you a lot quicker,” she said.
Having made the last couple of Senior Doubles finals along with partner Ciara Mahon, Aoife is a little disappointed not to have a chance to go one better in that form of the game this year.
“Yeah, it is a bit disappointing that no doubles championship is being played this year but on the other hand it is great that the singles competition is going ahead.
“Myself and Ciara have been doing a lot of training together this year as we are both based in Kilkenny so I'm sure it will stand to us for next year again.
“I grew up playing 60x30 so that's definitely my favourite code. Up until last year Kilfane was a 60x30 club but we now also have a new 40x20 court so it's brilliant for the club and community.”
Coming into the championship, preparations were excellent and the third year trainee teacher, who attends St Patrick’s College, DCU – is looking forward to the challenge this Saturday.
“My training went well for the championship, I was playing a lot of games against my brothers Jack and Conor. Conor is playing in the U16 Singles All-Ireland semi-final in a few weeks so he’s training hard too. I also trained with my doubles partner Ciara.
“Martina is an excellent player in all codes of handball so I know I won’t get anything easy. I'm just going to focus on my own game and make sure I do the simple things right in the court.
“This is my first Senior Singles semi final so I’m looking forward to the game on Saturday.”
Holden meets McMahon at 12 noon. Following that, Ciara Mahon takes on Westmeath's Aoife McCarthy in the other semi-final.
All four SF's, including the Men's Senior SF's will be streamed live on GAA Handball's Facebook page.
By Paul Fitzpatrick