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With 10 grand at stake, 'it's kill or be killed' in top level handball

Ireland’s premier handballer Paul Brady admitted relief at claiming victory in the season’s first ‘Major’ in LA.

By Paul Fitzpatrick

IT’S BUSINESS AS usual on the professional handball circuit – the field shoot for show, Paul Brady does it for dough.

The Cavan man continued his incredible run of success yesterday when he trounced American no 1 Luis Moreno 21-8, 21-4 in the $10,000-purse final of the first ‘Major’ of the handball season, the US Open in Los Angeles.

And Brady (35), who conquered Armagh’s Charly Shanks in an 11-4 tiebreaker in the semi-final, admitted after the final that he was relieved it was all over.

“It is a relief, it was a long few months for me – I took a loss early in the year but I’m glad to have come back and it feels great to win this title again,” said the Mullahoran dual player.

Brady is known for his sportsmanship, which was evident in the quarter-final against Mexican national Luis Cordova – a game, hustling young immigrant who is now making a career in the US military.

‘The Gunner’ has Cordova on the ropes and led 19-0 in game two but clearly eased off to avoid the youngster suffering the stigma of a doughnut (21-0). But when it’s for all the marbles, Brady has the ability to switch into beast mode.

“In the semi-final, Charly played great, I felt flat but I knew I’d have to up the intensity. It’s hard to keep motivating myself to beat players again, it can be hard to get that bite but in the second game I brought that and the same here again today. There’s no feeling sorry for anyone, it’s kill or be killed, that’s just the way it is.”

That sentiment will be of little comfort to Shanks, who was aiming for a first career win over his Ulster rival and shot the lights out in game one before falling away. Shanks had showed nerve to go with his ubiquitous verve in beating in-form Californian Emmet Peixoto in the round of eight and showed that his no 1 US ranking two years ago was no fluke.

Brady’s final victory was a record fourth in the lucrative event and the wide margin of his victory over 26-year-old Moreno – who had been in sensational form – was also a record for the final.

Vegas, relax

“I just try to get the best out of myself and I did today,” said the Cavanman.

“The only way to beat Luis is to bring your best game every time. I probably was a bit complacent maybe yesterday but I knew the threat was there today and I would have to bring my ‘A’ game.

“I’m going to Vegas now for a few days to relax, then I’m flying to Tucson for the next tournament.”

Moreno had seen off Clare left-hander Diarmaid Nash in the quarter-final and Mayo’s Stephen Cooney losing to Californian Emmet Peixoto in the round of 16.

Meanwhile, Cork sensation Catriona Casey retained her Ladies Open title – and, with it, picked up a cheque for $5,000 – when she saw off Antrim’s world champion Aisling Reilly.

UL student Casey, from Ballydesmond, served nine aces en route to winning 21-10, 21-16.

The Belfast woman struggled to find her range on serve while Casey, who lost to Reilly in the 2014 All-Ireland final and turned the tables at the US Nationals, took full advantage with a very impressive win.

“It feels brilliant, I just was so relieved to get the last point because I could feel my legs getting dead. I’m so happy, I put a lot into it,” said Casey – who revealed that she trains for “15 to 20 hours” per week –  after the match.

“I think my preparation was more structured this year. We have the Irish Nationals coming up in a few weeks and I’m sure Aisling will be hoping for revenge there so there is not much time to rest.”

“Dessie Keegan and Eoin Kennedy were beaten 21-15, 21-16 in the semi-final of the Open Doubles by locals Marcos Chavez and Vic Perez, with Limerick pair Evan Murphy and Anthony Donnelly losing the U17 and B Singles finals respectively.

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Paul Fitzpatrick

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