There was a clean sweep for the McCarthy family in the Open grades at the Irish Softball Nationals at the weekend as siblings Robbie and Aoife won the Men’s and Ladies titles respectively.
Robbie saw off Gary McConnell (Kells) 15-6, 15-3 in the final, having earlier beaten Kilkenny’s Kyle Jordan 15-9, 15-1 in the semi-final. Youngster Jordan enjoyed an impressive run, beating David Hope and Limerick’s Shane Murphy (who himself had a super win against top big alley player Gavin Buggy).
Kilkenny citeog Ciaran Neary also had a good tournament, defeating Sligo teenager Cormac Finn (who knocked out Diarmuid Mulkerrins) and going to a tiebreaker in the semi-final against McConnell, who had beaten clubmate Brian Carroll.
Aoife McCarthy, who has been in great form of late, defeated Kildare’s Mollie Dagg 15-9, 15-7 in the final to win the Ladies crown after playing some terrific handball earlier in the competition.
The Men’s A Doubles saw Claremorris, Co Mayo men Niall Joyce and Paddy Murphy get the better of the Cork/Tipperary pairing of Tadhg O’Neill and Rory Grace in the final.
Waterford’s Anthony Fitzgerald and Kavan O’Keeffe (last year’s All-Ireland Junior A finalist and Junior B champion respectively) saw off Tipperary’s Ned Reilly and Christy Reilly in the B Doubles decider, with Rocky Reilly and Gearoid O’Connell (Tipperary/Cork) defeating Offaly-Kildare combo Cathal McNamee and Stephen Smullen in the C Doubles final.
Carlow team John and Ollie Ryan won the Masters final against lefty Eddie Bourke and Philip O’Carroll.
The big story from the underage grades was the 17&U win for Gavin Kelly (Abbeyknockmoy, Galway) and Travis Gibbons (Collooney, Sligo); the lads were eligible for 15&U but stepped up when the grades were combined and edged past gallant Wexford partnership Jamie Barnes and Jack Whitty in two very close games.
Hannah Grace and Jodie Keeling, who met in the 4-Wall Minor Singles final, joined forces to win the girls 17&U and Tyrone enjoyed great success in Girls 15&U (Lucy McCullagh and Laura Duff came through in the only final tiebreaker against the talented Caislin Tracey and Katie Jordan) and Boys 13&U, where Caithair Kelly and Tarlach Kelly won an all-Tyrone final.
Congratulations to all winners and a big thank you to the host clubs and volunteers for their sterling work over the weekend. Games were hosted by Mullingar, Crossakiel, Abbeylara, Crinkle, Fahy’s Cross, Na Fianna, Kells and Croke Park and big thanks are due to all clubs for their efforts.
2023 Irish 60x30 Softball Nationals
North Leinster venues, all games to 15 bar tiebreakers to 11, unless otherwise stated.
MEN’S OPEN SINGLES
Final: Robbie McCarthy dft Gary McConnell (Kells) 6, 3
LADIES OPEN SINGLES
Final: Aoife McCarthy dft Mollie Dagg 9, 7
MEN’S OPEN SINGLES PLATE
David Hope dft Diarmuid Mulkerrins 21-17
MEN’S A DOUBLES (combined with Masters A Doubles)
Final: Niall Joyce/Patrick Murphy dft Tadhg O’Neill/Rory Grace 15-11, 15-3
MEN’S B DOUBLES
Final: Anthony Fitzgerald/Kavan O'Keeffe dft Ned Reilly/Christy Reilly 15-11, 15-10
MEN’S C DOUBLES
Final: Rocky Reilly/Gearoid O’Connell dft Cathal McNamee/Stephen Smullen 6, 12
SILVER MASTERS DOUBLES
Final: John Ryan/Ollie Ryan dft Edward Bourke/Philip O’Carroll 9, 6
BOYS 17&U (combined with 15&U)
Final: Gavin Kelly/Travis Gibbons dft Jack Whitty/Jamie Barnes 14, 14
Final: Hannah Grace/Jodie Keeling dft Holly Byrne/Katie Brennan 11, 1
GIRLS 15&U (combined with 13&U)
Final: Lucy McCullagh/Laura Duff dft Caislin Tracey/Katie Jordan 13, (13), 4
Final: Caithair Kelly/Tarlach Kelly dft Eolann Kelly/Owen Kelly 12, 10.
More photos to follow on social media.