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Capacity Crowds Treated To Ulster One Wall Classic

Tuesday 01.07.2014
Team Talk Mag


There is no doubt that One Wall handball took centre stage in the past week, in Ulster, as almost 1,000 spectators packed into the newly launched Loughmacrory venue throughout the weekend for a breathtaking Ulster One Wall Championship tournament. The mid-Tyrone club launched their new £1million complex and facilities with Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness; GAA President elect, Aogán Ó Fearghail; Minister for DARD, Michelle O’Neill; Minister for DCAL, Carál Ní Chuillin; Ulster GAA President, Martin McAviney and World Wallball Association President, Joe O’Shaughnessy amongst the special guests on the day. Over 223 matches were played in the new state of the art Outdoor, fully covered One Wall facility, the first of its kind launched by a club in Ireland.LadiesOpenLorraineHavernAction1WB

When the action moved into the finals day, the atmosphere could not have been more electric with over 500 spectators packed around the showcourt for the Mens’ Open Final to bring the curtain down on a fantastic weekend of handball. The Mens’ Open provided some fantastic games with Armagh’s Charly Shanks, fresh from his US Nationals Doubles success one week earlier, making a return to the One Wall code for the first time in almost three years, in the end laying claim to the Ulster crown. Shanks was in imperious form in defeating Shane O’Neill (31-5) and Gahbain McCrystal (31-19), albeit his game with McCrystal in particular provided some fantastic rallies and shooting to the delight of the huge crowd. In the other half of the draw, Breacach’s Conor McElduff, who had actually captured the Canadian Nationals Open Doubles crown two weeks earlier, was exhibiting the best form of his career to date. A 31-9 win over Monaghan’s highly regarded teenager, Darren Doherty, and then an exceptional display to run out an emphatic 31-7 winner over reigning champion, Darragh Daly, signalled that McElduff is unequivocally a big game player at the highest level.

The final provided awesome attacking play from both Shanks and McElduff and some of the diving gets from McElduff had the huge crowd enthralled throughout. Shanks produced some devastating killshots in the early stages and opened up a 6-0 lead before McElduff took control with fantastic placed passing and dynamic retrieving around front court. He went 8-7 in front but the tie moved again in favour of the Armagh man, who managed to continuously produce impressive bursts of offensive play to hit a sequence of aces and he went 11-8 ahead again. The Tyrone player again delivered cracking serves and long range passes to hold a 13-11 lead but the vastly experienced Shanks a seasoned player on the US professional circuit, unleashed fantastic killshots in succession to win 15-13 and take game one. Shanks maintained his momentum in the second game and there is no doubt the quality of handball was as good as any seen on the one wall circuit for some time. Spectacular rallies kept the huge crowd engrossed and gave both players a standing ovation at the conclusion, with Shanks claiming the title by 15-11.MensOpenFinalActionCShanksWB

The Ladies Open final produced another high octane encounter. There is no doubt that Down’s Lorraine Havern has been the dominant force in Ladies One Wall handball since she captured her first National Open crown at just 19 years of age. In this final, having won three of the last four Open titles in Ireland, she met another rising star of the game in 18 year old Maeve McElduff of Tyrone. Again there were spectacular rallies throughout with McElduff finding her range with great killshots and deep passing. The duo were finely balance for long periods in both games but Havern’s retrieving and anticipation were outstanding and she ran out the title winner for the second year running of the event by 15-8, 15-13.

Elsewhere this weekend there were a range of amazing games and absorbing finals. No doubt the closest and most dramatic came in the Boys Under 14 final. Loughmacrory’s Antoin Fox and Carrickmore’s Cormac Munroe, the winner of this event twelve months ago, served up a rip-roaring tussle in an intense cauldron of noise. Munroe was in brilliant form in the opener and won 15-1 before Fox levelled with a 15-10 win in the second. The Loughmacrory player led 10-5 in the tie-break but five aces from the 2013 winner saw them level at 10-10. Two exceptional rally winning kills from Fox though saw him claim the prestigious honours to the delight of the massive Loughmacrory support. Mairead Fox made it a club and family double when she ran out a 15-2, 15-11 winner in the Girls Under 12 final against Armagh’s Cailiosa Ni Dhuill. Another eye-catching performance, in one of the best games of the weekend, came from Loughmacrory’s Caitlin Conway who added her club’s third title of the weekend in the Girls Under 14 singles championship, defeating Breacach’s Elizabeth McGarvey 15-13, 15-11.

While the Mens and Ladies Open titles went to Armagh and Down respectively, Tyrone were the big winners of the weekend action. Those three titles for Loughmacrory were followed by a run of six Ulster One Wall Championship titles for Breacach, a club who continues to excel on the highest stage. Sean Kerr was in unstoppable form in the Boys Under 16 grade, running out a convincing winner in the final against Armagh’s Sean Reilly and that saw another family/club double completed as Niall Kerr took the Masters crown with a 15-8, 15-10 win over Chris Curran in the final. Johnny Woods added the One Wall Under 18 crown to his haul of 40×20 successes with a 15-8, 15-12 win over Jack Campbell in the final and Eilise McCrory added the Girls Under 16 title with a 15-3, 15-9 win over Armagh’s Megan McCann. Eamonn McCrory, who had gone agonisingly close on a number of occasions, got across the line to win one of the most competitive grades of the weekend in the Mens C Singles event. A tough semi final win over Cavan’s Cormac McMahon was followed by a tie break victory against Down’s Richie McNally to claim the 2014 honours. Michelle Warren completed the successes for Breacach when she defeated Down’s Annie Havern in a highly entertaining Ladies C final.

Down picked up three titles in all at the event. In addition to Havern’s Ladies Open success, Sean McNally added the Golden Masters crown with a tie-break win over Monaghan’s Paul Cassidy while Sean Digney really impressed in his straight games triumph against Carrickmore’s Patrick McCrory in the Mens B Singles final. Monaghan completed the weekend roll of honour in the Boys Under 12 singles final when rising star, Eoghan McGinnity, emerged a most impressive winner of that title with a big win in the final against young Cahir Munroe of the Carrickmore club.

There were also Consolation Shield competitions across all grades for first and second round losers in the main events and also provided some great games. Peadar Magill (Boys U12) took the first of the day to Armagh and there were two wins for Down in Brian Havern (Golden Masters) and Tim Prenter (Boys U14). Tyrone had major success in the reminder of those events with Shane O’Neill in the Mens Open, Arnoldas Macidulskas (Boys U16), Nathan Moore (Boys U18), Sarah Devlin (Girls U12), Aideen Curran (Girls U!4), Sinead Donnelly (Girls U!6), Mattie Mc Sorley (Mens C) and Martin Toner (Masters).

Overall a terrific weekend of action and next up for almost all the players who competed is this weekend’s One Wall Nationals in Breaffy Sports Arena, Castlebar. Tyrone will in particular hold major claims in many of those grades with many eyes set to focus on the return of Cavan’s Paul Brady to the one wall game, having last competed and won the title in 2008.

MENS OPEN Final: Charly Shanks, Clann Eireann dft Conor McElduff, Breacach 15-13, 15-11

Ladies Open Final: Lorraine Havern, Saval dft Maeve McElduff, Breacach 15-8, 15-13

BOYS Under 12 Final: Eoghan McGinnity, Monaghan dft Cahir Munroe, Carrickmore 15-3, 15-4

BOYS Under 14 Final: Antoin Fox, Loughmacrory dft Cormac Munroe, Carrickmore 1-15, 15-10, 11-10

BOYS Under 16 Final: Sean Kerr, Breacach dft Sean Reilly, Eugene Quinn 15-0, 15-3

BOYS Under 18 Final: Johnny Woods, Breacach dft Jack Campbell, Breacach 15-8, 15-12

Girls Under 12 Final: Mairead Fox, Loughmacrory dft Cailiosa Ní Dhuill, Naomh Cillian 15-2, 15-11

Girls Under 14 Final: Caitlin Conway, Loughmacrory dft Elizabeth McGarvey, Breacach 15-13, 15-11

Girls Under 16 Final: Elisha McCrory, Breacach dft Megan McCann, Clann Eireann 15-3, 15-9

Girls Under 18 Final: Tuesday 2nd July 2014: Aoife Kelly, Loughmacrory v Caitlin Fleville, Clann Eireann

MENS C Final: Eamon McCrory, Breacach dft Richie McNally, Saval 11-15, 15-4, 11-1

Mens B Final: Sean Digney, Saval dft Patrick McRory, Carrickmore 15-11, 15-9

Masters Final: Niall Kerr, Breacach dft Chris Curran, Loughmacrory 15-8, 15-10

Golden Masters Final: Sean McNally, Clonduff dft Paul Cassidy, Tydavnet 14-15, 15-5, 11-3

Ladies C Final: Michelle Warren, Breacach dft Annie Havern Snr, Saval



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