Clare’s Diarmaid Nash is no stranger to All-Ireland Final Day having reached the 2014 Senior Singles decider, but he is still relishing the chance to participate in his first Senior Doubles Final alongside new partner Colin Crehan.
“We are delighted to reach the final and are really looking forward to it. We probably still don't have the telepathy that other doubles teams would have from playing years together but we've got better as the year has come on so hopefully we can keep it going.”
“The Finals Festival Weekend is a fantastic concept to be honest and really adds to the excitement, as you will have people from all ages playing their respective All-Ireland's in the same venue. It allows people to take in 15-20 games while they are there, who might otherwise not have drove to Cavan just for the senior finals alone.”
The first outing the banner men had was against Kerry (Jack O’Shea & John Joe Quirke), which they prevailed 21-19, 21-9. A QF versus Mayo (Joe McCann & Vinny Moran) followed and an admittedly good performance saw them victorious on a 21-11, 21-13 score line against two very experienced players.
A shock defeat of the reigning Doubles champions Dublin (Eoin Kennedy & Carl Browne) by Kilkenny’s Funchion brothers Peter & Patrick saw the Clare men enter the SF against unexpected opponents, but the Funchions proved their worth providing the duo with a tough SF which they prevailed 21-12, 21-17.
So now standing in their way is a daunting prospect of the ten time champions Cavan, Paul Brady & Michael Finnegan, who are at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of their playing experience and success together as a partnership.
“They are an extremely good doubles team to be fair. You've got Brady on the left who is probably the greatest player ever and then Finnegan on the right who has won two world doubles titles with two different partners which goes to show the pedigree we are up against. So we're under no illusions about what's in front of us but we're confident if we play well then we have a good chance.”
Regardless of experience as a Doubles partnership, both Nash & Crehan are extremely talented Handballers with great technique of both hands and they will be a formidable opponent themselves the further into the Champion they go getting more games under their belts.
In Singles, Nash has reached All-Ireland & US Pro-Stop Finals, whilst having also won the Irish Nationals & World 23&U crowns. And when still only at the age of 25 he teamed up with Robbie McCarthy to win the 2015 World Senior Doubles title.
Crehan, whilst only 21, has already won Minor, U21 & Intermediate All-Ireland’s, and showcased his potential at the 2015 New York Pro-Stop, making the QF’s and knocking out some big name American players en route.
When asked what he felt works well for them pair as a partnership, Nash stated;
“I think we compliment each other's games quite well. We're both pretty good singles players and I think good players generally find a way to play that works for them. Albeit we're probably still ironing out a few kinks given this is our first year playing together but we've gotten better as the year has progressed and hope to keep the run going next weekend.“
The 10 time champs will rightly start as favourites, and playing in their home court could also assist their cause, but the Clare people always travel in numbers and are vocal in their support so will no doubt make their presence known in a pressure environment.
“It's not something that bothers me or affects how I play to be honest. It's great to get a good crowd as it adds to the atmosphere for the fans watching and increases the profile of handball in general but I remember Roy Keane said years ago that one of reasons he made it as a professional was that when he was playing Sunday league or reserve games he didn't need a huge crowd of people, scouts or managers to be watching for him to play well. He learnt to create an atmosphere in his head so that it didn't matter if there were 5 people watching or 5000 he was fully engrossed in the game and giving it his all. I've tried to use that method of thinking when I play so tend to zone out.”