Two new Irish world champions were crowned at the weekend as Martin Mulkerrins and Catriona Casey took gold in the Men’s and Women’s Open Championships in Minneapolis.

With the triennial Worlds not having taken place since 2018 due to pandemic-related restrictions, a decision was made that this year’s US Nationals would double as a Worlds Invitational which means that the new champions are celebrating on the double today.

Mulkerrins defeated Peter Jansen (Sacramento) 21-3, 21-8, Dylan Hernandez (Van Nuys, California) 21-8, 21-4 and Kilkenny’s Peter Funchion 21-15, 21-15 to set up a semi-final against Clare’s Diarmaid Nash, whom he had lost to in last year’s US final.

This time, the Moycullen man ran out a 21-8, 21-14 winner to advance to the final, where he got the better of top American Sean Lenning 21-11, 14-21, 11-7.

“It has been a dream of mine to win the Men’s Open World Championship and US Nationals, so it feels great!” Mulkerrins said.

“All the hard work and sacrifices have been worth it, but I suppose there is also an element of relief.

“I lost four previous finals, twice to Paul Brady (2013, 2019), to Killian Carroll (2018) in what was also combined for the world title and last year (2022) to Diarmaid Nash 11-9 in the tiebreaker.

“I’d also played two other times and lost in the semi-finals. So I was determined to win and made a big decision to move to Texas this year and compete on the Pro Tour. All of the tournaments have helped and I had confidence coming here this week that I could do it. I think I managed to peak on time as well which is not always easy to get right.”

Mulkerrins is based in College Station, Texas, where he coaches the Texas A&M team and lectures in the university.

Catriona Casey, meanwhile, displayed stellar form throughout the week. She easily despatched Suz Entzeroth from Missouri 21-1, 21-0 before enjoying a 21-8, 21-5 victory over top New York lefty Danielle Daskalakis.

In the Women’s final, Casey took on Roscommon senior ladies footballer Fiona Tully, who had beaten young Tyrone star Clodagh Munroe, who is currently studying on a handball scholarship in Minnesota.

Casey played flawless handball in the final to win 21-8, 21-1. Having been at the top of the game for several years, this was her first Open Singles title at the Worlds.

“It feels great to have won the US and world titles. The world title is one that has eluded me, having come so close in the last two finals so it’s a bit of a monkey off the back in that sense and I’m just delighted to have that title to my name now as well,” said the Ballydesmond native.