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It’s McCarthy v Mulkerrins, Casey v Dagg in SS finals

The stage is set for two intriguing Senior Softball Singles finals following the conclusion of the semi-finals last Saturday at HQ, writes Paul Fitzpatrick.

In a three-match programme (Catriona Casey defeated Mayo’s Cuileann Bourke 21-2, 21-4 in the other semi at Belcarra in mid-week), there was some terrific action on show, with one tiebreaker needed.

First up was the meeting of Mollie Dagg of Kildare and Westmeath’s Aoife McCarthy. Last year’s Intermediate champion Dagg, who had earned a notable win over Aoife Holden in an 11-8 tiebreaker in the quarter-final, had never beaten McCarthy in softball before but emerged an impressive winner, 21-10, 21-12.

The 22-year-old Leixlip woman will now meet the decorated Casey in what will be the Kildare right-hander’s first senior final.

The second match on the card was a cracker as Martin Mulkerrins and Robbie McCarthy renewed rivalries. Mulkerrins came out shooting and opened an early 6-0 lead with some flat kills but McCarthy, showcasing his deft paddle kills, turned it around to win 21-15.

Back came the Galwegian to win the second by the same scoreline before the Mullingar champion closed out the match 11-2 to return to continue his proud record of having played in every Senior Softball Singles final since 2009.

He will take on another Mulkerrins – Martin’s brother Diarmuid – who had an excellent straight-games win over Sligo young gun Cormac Finn.

2017 Minor Singles champion Mulkerrins (25) had beaten Finn in a tiebreaker in the Connacht Intermediate Singles final five days earlier but a third game wasn’t needed this time as he too came out hot, opened a big lead in game one, withstood a comeback and deservedly closed out the match 21-15, 21-9. Incidentally, he advanced to the Intermediate final the following day with a win over Waterford's Anthony Fitzgerald.

The senior finals are down for decision at the National Handball Centre, Croke Park this Saturday.