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McGreevy is tuned in for his debut at Co Antrim final

 

By John Flack

Budding pop star Gareth McGreevy shunned the chance of an early night to prepare for his first appearance in a Co Antrim Championship men's singles final by playing a pre-arranged gig in a pub at the tournament venue in Ballycastle.

The 30-year-old Newcastle-born player, who now lives in the north coast seaside resort, will face another first-time finalist this afternoon in Ronan McKeever, who caused an upset when he defeated top seed Aaron Stubbs in yesterday's semi-final.

McKeever was involved in an epic three-hour battle with the Donaghadee man, coming from a set down to win on a 4-6 7-6 6-4 scoreline, while McGreevy overcame a stiff challenge from teenager Rory Cunningham to emerge with a 6-2 7-5 success.

McGreevy said: "I play in a two-man band called Discobeard along with a pal and we already had been booked for the gig before the tournament commenced so we couldn't cancel it.

"Normally, I'm out of the singles at this stage so it wouldn't have been an issue but at least I'll have something else to concentrate on ahead of the match.

"I'm delighted to have reached the final at the 10th time of asking and I'm looking forward to playing Ronan immensely.

"The first thing I have to consider is that I am a lot older than him and I know from watching him that he'll be a very tricky opponent.

"Young Rory gave me a very good match in my semi-final and I reckon he'll be one to look out for in the future.

"Contrary to what many people might be thinking, I won't be listening to music before the match and instead I will probably focus on the task in hand by having a quiet walk along the beach in Ballycastle."

There will also be a first-time finalist in the ladies' showpiece as 18-year-old Bangor player Amy Rothwell stunned second seed Christine Duncan with a 6-1 4-6 6-4 victory.

Rothwell will face title holder Kerri Russell, who defeated Megan McGreevy - men's finalist Gareth's sister - 6-2 6-2 to stay on course for a third successive triumph.

Rothwell said: "I have a lot of respect for Kerri, who I play every week in practice with mixed results and she has a great track record on grass so it will be a tough match for sure."

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