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Mahon aims to fulfil lifelong ambition as Cats gear up for SD final

Having played in Senior Singles and Senior Doubles finals in the past, Kilkenny’s Ciara Mahon is still chasing that elusive first Celtic Cross at the highest level – but she feels the experience of playing on the big stage in the past will stand to her this year.

“I think the more finals you get to, the more hungry you are to win a title and certainly it’s a long-held dream of mine to win a Senior Singles or Doubles title and so it will be one that myself and Amy will very much be motivated to claim this weekend,” the Clogh woman said.

“We’ve learned a lot since last year. Last year, myself and Amy got about a week to train together because unfortunately my former doubles partner Aoife had an injury and was unable to play so it was very much last-minute. Amy had a fantastic performance in her first senior final and we’re looking to build on that this year.

“We had a nice lead-up to the final in terms of having the opportunity to train regularly together, get used to each other’s styles and learn how to communicate together on the court. I think we have learned lots in the last few weeks and are very much excited to put that into practice now at the weekend.

Ciara recently made the final of the Softball Nationals in Wexford which she feels will stand her in good stead now.

“I’m delighted with my performance in the Nationals, I felt like I got some really great, challenging games and took a lot away from it. I’m very much looking to build on it and bring what I’ve learned to the final this weekend and also to commend Amy on her great performance as well on the weekend of the Nationals, she got to the final of the plate.

“And I think we both benefited from the games and the experience so we’re looking forward to building on that for the weekend.”

Ciara has relocated to Co Laois, close to home, and it has proven ideal for training.

“I’ve moved back down the country, I’m enjoying country life and country living. And also the perks of that are I get the opportunity to train at home in my home court in Clogh and I also still work in Dublin so I got the opportunity to train up in Croke Park as well which is again a fantastic facility and it’s fantastic to get the opportunity to play there.

“And we’ve been really fortunate in that our clubmates in Clogh and friends in Dublin have been great in giving us games so we’ve got a good opportunity to play and train. It’s been a nice lead-up to this final.”

Clogh is a hotbed for the ‘big alley’ game and it’s no surprise that Ciara is very much an advocate of it.

“I think softball is my favourite code of handball, I play exclusively softball now really. There is something about 60x30 that I find really satisfying. Martina alluded to this in her recent interview as well, hearing the whack of the ball and when it rolls out, there’s something very, very satisfying about that.

“So yeah, I really do enjoy the code and I think personally I’d love to see it continue to grow. I think continuing to promote the game and seeing it live-streamed on TG4 is really great and keeping up the visibility and celebration of this traditional game and seeing it promoted among young people I think would be fantastic as well.

“It’s so core to the tradition of handball and there’s something so pure to playing the game. I just really enjoy the 60x30 so it would be great to see the game being promoted and getting the visibility it deserves.”