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Minneapolis round-up: Irish eyes still smiling after day one

There were no major surprises at the big event in Minneapolis today as 10 Irish players advanced to tomorrow’s round of 16 in the Men’s Open Singles.

The 72nd USHA 4-Wall Championships, taking place at the University of Minnesota, is doubling as a ‘World Invitational’, which resulted in a deep field, with quite a few Irish players making the trip.

Diarmaid Nash is the defending champion in the US Nationals; Killian Carroll is the reigning world champion. Notable by their absence are Luis and Dniel Cordova, which weakens the Americans’ hand. Their big hope will be the mercurial Sean Lenning, who has been at his brilliant best at times in recent events.

Top seed Nash got a bye in the round of 32 and will take on Californian Loren Collado tomorrow.

Last year’s runner-up, Martin Mulkerrins, is seeded fourth and had a comfortable win over Peter Jansen from Sacramento.

World champion Killian Carroll won 21-2, 21-0 against David Elkin from Illinois while elsewhere, there were wins for Niall O’Connor (living in Vancouver now, he won the Canadian Nationals recently), New York-based Mayo man Stephen Cooney, Wexford youngster Mark Doyle, Kilkenny brothers Peter and Patrick Funchion and the powerful David Walsh of Cork.

Doyle, also on a handball scholarship at Mankato, came through a tiebreaker as did Cooney, against John Chapman, brother of the late and great David.

Kilkenny’s Shane Dunne, like Doyle currently studying in Minnesota, won by forfeit while out of luck were this year’s All-Ireland Intermediate Singles and Junior Singles champions Gavin Coyle and Joe Dillon respectively and Mallow clubman Conor Walsh.

Coyle was beaten by Ray Ure, a multi-talented athlete who has proven himself the best young American player of recent years.

Action in the Men’s Open continues tomorrow at 9pm Irish time. Ireland are represented by Catriona Casey, Fiona Tully, Clodagh Munroe and Aishling O’Keeffe in the Women’s Open, which serves off tomorrow.

Casey will be favourite to win her first world title in the Open Singles grade. All-Ireland Senior Singles champion Ciana Ní Churraoin hasn’t made the trip unfortunately – a rematch between those two incredible players would surely have made for a brilliant handball spectacle – but an interesting tournament is in store, with the outstanding Tully probably the biggest threat to the Ballydesmond woman.

Interestingly, Doyle and Dunne are also entered in the Wallball Open Singles; Coyle and Dillon go again in the A Singles.

The Men's Open Doubles was won last year by Nash and Mulkerrins; this time, Mulkerrins pairs with Carroll. The other all-Irish pairs are Conor and David Walsh, Peter and Patrick Funchion, Dunne and Doyle and Cooney and O'Connor.

View the draws and results here.

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