by Paul Fitzpatrick.
It may be played off-Broadway but the latest instalment of the most engaging rivalries in Irish sport takes place this Saturday when handball superstars Eoin Kennedy and Robbie McCarthy meet in the MyClubShop.ie All-Ireland 60x30 Senior Singles final.
The pair have met in seven finals, with Kennedy currently ahead 4-3.
Kennedy won seven titles in succession, beating McCarthy in three finals in a row, before the Mullingar man (almost nine years Kennedy's junior) took over at the top in 2011.
He beat the Dubliner in that final and again in 2012 and 2013 before Kennedy, at the age of 35, came storming back to turn the tables in last year's decider. The champion, though, played down his chances this week.
I probably still see myself as the underdog, I'm giving away almost 10 years,” stated the St Brigid’s man.
I have nothing to lose any more. I've been lucky enough to win plenty of titles over the years and I'll do absolutely everything I can to win but if I don't, so be it.
If I win another that's great but it's a nice position to be in, without any pressure. Last year was the first title in a long time where I experienced a feeling of elation. It is usually more relief than elation.
What adds to the intrigue for handball fans is the clash of styles. Kennedy, an Electrical Engineer, is famous for his lob serving, percentage game whereas Irish Naval recruit McCarthy is more explosive and attacking.
I have to listen to the body a bit more. I'm 36 now, I'm 37 in January, and I can't do the mad stuff I used to do. I have to be a bit more clever about rest and make sure I go in fresh.
I don’t feel there’s any pressure on me, I’m going to give it everything I have. This is the seventh final in a row between myself and Robbie and the year before that I think I played him in the quarter-final.
He's a super player, he's almost effortless because he's got such good hands. I know I'll be up against it but I can't wait, I've nothing to lose.
Video: Here's the promo prior to this year's final.