Stay In Touch With Us Coaching Videos

​Tribeswomen seeking to go one better than last year

Last year’s Ladies Senior Doubles final was one of the closest we have ever witnessed and handball fans are anticipating another classic when Galway and Cork lock horns again this weekend, writes Paul Fitzpatrick.

The Tribeswomen are determined to go one step further this year although Ciana Ní Churraoin and Niamh Heffernan have met some obstacles along the way, notably a recent injury for Ciana.

“We haven’t been able to train how we had planned or how we would have liked in the lead-up to the semi-final because I’ve been dealing with an injury for the last month that has kept me out of the court," the reigning Senior Singles champion explained.

“Unfortunately we didn’t get into the court together as much as we would have liked but thankfully we do have the experience of last year, having played doubles together in the championship and had some hard games.

“We had an idea of areas we wanted to focus on anyway. We know each other well, we train together and play singles against each other quite a bit, we had some things we wanted to focus on but the way it worked out, it was more talking about those things and thankfully in the semi-final we were able to put those things into action despite maybe not having drilled them as much we’d like in terms of playing games together.

“Hopefully that semi-final will stand to us going into this week, we’ll get a couple of games together again and keep pushing on.”

Ní Churraoin, who works in the field of sports psychology, has an interesting take on playing at HQ.

“I think the Croke Park facility is really important to handball and for occasions such as this, All-Ireland finals. In hurling and football, it’s really somewhere where people aspire to play and you’d enjoy those days when you go Croke Park as a supporter and now the same thing applies to handball.

“You have the goal of getting to play in Croke Park and it’s a great showcase for our sport. The facility is very fitting for the occasion and it is exciting.

“Personally, when it comes to playing the All-Ireland final, I would say the venue doesn’t necessarily matter. Yeah, it’s cool but at the same time, it’s just four players in a handball court and I wouldn’t want to hype it up to more than that.

“It’s a game of handball, a game of doubles, and obviously the goal is always to win and regardless of the court that you’re in. we’ll just focus on playing our game, it just happens to be in this amazing facility.

“Regardless of the opposition, both Niamh and I are highly motivated individuals, in singles and doubles, in anything we do I’d say, we’re fairly motivated and competitive and the same is probably true for the Cork team as well and that’s why they’ve had the success they’ve had.

“We were very close last year so that definitely does build confidence that there was an ace here or there and the result could have been very different. It motivates you at the start of the season and then thinking about last year can really build your confidence and help you drive on going into the business end of things.”

The sides played an epic last year so how does Ciana assess their respective strengths?

“In terms of our strength, I would say we’re a very well balanced team and that we trust each other in that. I think that we have been communicating very well and that’s I think one of the biggest factors when it comes to a good doubles team – that belief in each other and to be able to be verbal when you’re in the court.

“To be extra clear where you’re going to be, what you’re going to do and who’s going for what. I think we’re also very level-headed regardless if we are in a really tight game like the final last year, if we’re up by a lot or maybe if we’re struggling, we’ll just keep ploughing on, focusing on the next point, and we help each other to do that during the game.

“For Cork, I think the most obvious thing is they have the experience, they have played so many different opponents over the last number of years. They’ve been really successful, they’ve been able to get results regardless of who they’re playing and that’s really impressive.

“Knowing each other and playing together for a very, very long time, that definitely stands to them in the court as well.”

There is a bumper programme of finals this weekend in all Adult and Masters grades. The Men's and Ladies Minor and Senior Doubles and the Masters A Doubles will be streamed live on Sport TG4 YouTube page from 12 noon on Saturday.

View fixtures here.