McCavitt SLAMS at the World Championships

October 30, 2012

Young Cullyhanna man Conall McCavitt captured both singles and doubles 17&U One Wall World Handball titles in the Citywest Arena, Dublin last week.

The St. Paul’s student barely took time to celebrate his singles victory before returning to the courts, accompanied by Beragh’s Johnny Woods to add the doubles title.

The earlier rounds of the Championship were relatively easy for McCavitt, with his opponents stuggling to notch up too many points against the naturally talented youngster.  The semi-final however proved to be a much closer affair against Clare’s Colin Crehan who was crowned 17&U World 40×20 Champion just a few days previous.  The Clare player pushed McCavitt all the way to a tie-breaker, really testing Conall’s nerves of steal.

There may not have been the thousands of spectators as there was at the Brady v. Moreno 40×20 World Open final, but for those in attendance, the 17&U One Wall final was every bit as exciting and the atmosphere was nothing short of electric.  In what has been described as perhaps the best of the underage One Wall World finals was Conall’s epic battle with Robert Lee(USA) in the 17&U singles.  McCavitt, mentored by the experienced James Doyle was forced to dig deeper than he’d ever done before in order to clinch a narrow victory over the American, winning the tiebreaker 11-6 after serving seven times at match point in a breath-taking contest.

A short time later, McCavitt teamed up with Tyrone’s Johnny Woods to add a doubles gold medal to his singles gold.  The Armagh/Tyrone duo easily accounted for their opponents, Colin Crehan(Clare) and Darren Doherty(Monaghan) in a straight 2-0 victory.

On Monday night, in Cullyhanna clubrooms, a home-coming reception was held for Conall.  Friends and family gathered to celebrate young Conall’s wonderful achievements.  Handball friends came from Armagh, Down, Cavan, Dublin and Longford to show their support and indeed their admiration for the gifted Cullyhanna teenager.

The St. Pat’s Chairman welcomed Conall back as a double World Champion.  Eddie, Conall’s father welcomed many of the players who had travelled and proudly spoke of the wonderful belief that he had in his son, culminating in him becoming World Champion.  World Champion, James Doyle then spoke at length, setting the scene of both the semi-final and final for those who weren’t at the Citywest and finished off by describing Conall as a ‘super-star.’

James Doyle himself played in the Men’s Open Big Ball Championships, he soon settled into top form, most notably accounting for Irish Team player, Brian Carroll in a straight two game victory, to set up a quarter-final game with eight time World Champion, Willie Polanco.

Doyle showed his true class and during the first game he played some of the best one wall ever witnessed by an Irish player.  At 17-15 ahead in the first, it looked like Doyle might take the first game, however the New Yorker pulled through and with a very clever time-out, he levelled at 17-17, infact the duo levelled on several occasions before Polanco closed out game one on a heart-breaking 21-19 scoreline.  The second game also went in favour of Polanco to end Doyle’s hopes for another three years.

The capacity crowd which had gathered to witness the Doyle/Polanco game were treated to a wonderful spectacle and it is difficult to comprehend that Doyle is now playing without any central vision in his left eye, after a serious injury sustained in a handball final in 2011 – a true testament to the amount of training of which the 36 year old applies himself to.  “I’ve trained very hard for the last number of years and have had to adapt a lot since losing sight last year.  I am getting stronger and stronger and hopefully I will bring back another title in 2015.  I would like to thank my family, our club here at St. Killian’s, Whitecross, Tullyherron Farm Feeds, St. Paul’s High School, Bessbrook, Stafford and Lynch and Finbar Hughes for their support leading up to the World Handball Championships.” commented Doyle.  “It was great to be able to use my experience to help Conall get over the line.  I also mentored many other new World Champions.  All roads now lead to Canada, 2015.”

Sister and brother, Cailiosa NiDhuill and Fiachra ‘Duill also from St. Killian’s look set to follow in their parents’ footsteps.  Competing in the World Championships for the first time, they played in the 11&U age bracket.  Ten year old Cailiosa won three games in the Championships and went down to the more experienced World silver medalist, Mollie Dagg in a thrilling tie-break match.

The youngest in the entire Championships, Fiachra at just seven years of age impressed many players and mentors from all over the world with his natural handball ability and court craft.  Cailiosa and Fiachra joined forces in the doubles competition winning through to the round of sixteen.  They played a much stronger and older doubles pairing from Tipperary and took them all the way to a tie-breaker, to rapturous applause of the Belgium and Holland Teams and some of the Team Porto Rico who had come to cheer along young Fiachra.

Both players now have their eyes firmly set on the 2015 World Handball Championships, which will take place in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

In addition to Conall’s two titles, Armagh captured a further eight World titles throughout the 11day Championships.   11&U One Wall singles and doubles( Dearbhla Coleman with Ciara Mullan, Tyrone), 13&U 40×20 and One Wall singles (Aoibhinn Henderson),  and the most decorated player of the entire Championships was Clann Eireann’s, Niamh Coleman, who captured the 15&U singles and doubles in BOTH 40×20 and One Wall, partnered by her cousin Aoife McConville in both competitions.

Mol an oige agus tiocfaidh said.