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Carmen Hoping For Successful World Championships.
Caolan Daly will spearhead Carrickmore’s assault on the world handball championships in Dublin over the next eleven days.
The talented dual star could have been playing in the Tyrone senior football final last weekend, just days before heading to the World championships but, after he had shot Carrickmore into the lead in their semi-final clash with Errigal Ciaran three weeks ago, the dream was snatched away as the eventual champions scored twice at the death to clinch their place in the county final.
Caolan, however, didn’t have time to dwell on that loss because he had another engagement to think about.
“It was a devastating defeat,” he recalls, “one which was very hard to take, but that’s football, and if you don’t take your chances you get punished. Fair play to Errigal, they played a brilliant match at the weekend and were fully deserving of their county title,” Caolan acknowledged.
“But my preparations for the worlds haven’t faltered, I’ve trained hard for this, put in a lot of court time and made sacrifices to give myself the best opportunity of a world title.”
Caolan, who also played for the Tyrone under-21 footballers earlier this year, and captained Queen’s University to the All-Ireland Freshers title, was out on Croke Park pitch being presented to the crowd on All-Ireland final day, 24 hours after losing to Errigal Ciaran. That was because he had claimed a highly sought after place on the official Irish team for the world championships back in July, taking one of the under-23 spots.
“It’s a great priviledge to be representing my country in the worlds,” he stressed. “It has given me access to the best possible training, and with the financial side of things covered like accommodation and playing gear, it’s a huge weight off my shoulders.
“Each player in the squad was assigned to a coaching mentor and luckily mine turned out to be Duxie Walsh. He’s the most decorated handballer in history, and the tips he has been providing me with are a huge help to my chances.”
The former US champion at 19 and Under is one of the major contenders for 23 and Under honours in these championships, but he’s in a very tough division which includes players of the calibre of Clare’s Diarmuid Nash, Limerick’s CJ Fitzpatrick and Seamus O’Carroll, and Mayo star Stephen Cooney, who will be a very strong doubles partner for Caolan in both 40×20 and one wall competition.
The Carrickmore man, one of the finest young prospects to have emerged in recent years, can’t wait for the whole experience to get underway and, while it surely hasn’t been easy for him trying to juggle handball and football commitments at times, he retains lofty ambitions in handball, as his recent training sessions with world champion Paul Brady clearly indicate.
“The Citywest is looking awesome,” he enthused, “and this is going to be the best spectacle that the sport has ever seen with the 22 courts on show. It’s definitely the biggest handball event I have ever planned for.
“Unfortunately I missed out on the last worlds in Portland, Oregon, due to injury, but winning my first world title at under-15 in Edmonton, Canada, back in 2006 was a great experience, and I hope I’ll be adding another one this time around.
“The Pro-circuit in the States is where I hope to be competing in the next few years along with the best in the world, but I’ll get this one over me first!”
Caolan’s family will be at the Citywest in force over the next ten days. His eldest brother, Ryan, is national coaching chairman, while Darragh is national development officer and both will be competing strongly in their respective grades at the Citywest.
In fact, Darragh holds a world one wall title himself from his underage days and is a serious player in top level one-wall handball today.
The Daly family and all the other handball people in Carrickmore are fulfilling the legacy of Paddy Grogan, a man who devoted much of his life to the development of handball in a football mad area. He would be extremely proud of what the club has achieved and of the high standing it has acquired in recent years.
There are plenty willing to carry on the good work that Paddy Grogan did in the past, and the club will be out in force at these world championships, with high hopes of winning gold.
“Carrickmore are sending a strong squad of players,” explained Caolan. “There’s been a huge amount of fundraising done to provide the players with lovely new kits and acommodation in the Citywest and hopefully the players can reward the club’s efforts by bringing home some silverware.
“Handball is flourishing throughout Ireland at the minute, and indeed within our own club it’s very hard to get into the alley at times with all the young fellas dying to play.
“We have some brilliant talent coming through at the minute. Darragh Canavan, Cormac Munroe, Ciaran Cuddy and Niall Allison are all playing brilliantly and they will put it up to any player they meet in their respective categories. Our only female competitor Ciara Mullan also has a brilliant chance in the 11 and Under doubles, and it would be brilliant to see her win a title as her father Martin puts a huge amount of work into the club.
“Committee members and coaches like Eugene Maguire, Ryan Daly, Paddy Mc Crory, Ruairi Grogan, Gerard Munroe and Morris Kelly should take a lot of praise for the way handball is on a high at the minute in Carmen and hopefully the players can reward their efforts,” concluded Caolan.
Patrick McCrory, Ryan Mullan and Lorcan McBride are some of the other players who can make a big impact in the Citywest in the days ahead and the quality available to Carrickmore for these championships shows how far the club has come in handball in recent years.
With players like Caolan Daly leading the way for them, there’s a very bright future in store, starting right now.
CARRICKMORE SQUAD FOR WORLD HANDBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS 2012…
Patrick Mc Crory, Niall Allison, Ryan Mullan, Pauric Mullan, Ciara Mullan, Cormac Munroe, Darragh Canavan, Ciaran Cuddy, Ciaran Daly, Aaron Donnelly, Conor Mc Caughey, Conor Keenan, Luke Kelly, Conor Kelly, Ronan Mc Kay, Lorcan Mc Bride, Padraig Begley, Fintan Mc Namee, Cathair Munroe, Brian Conway, Ruairi Canavan, Lorcan McGarrity. Tiarnan McGarrity, Lochrann Donnelly, Dearcan Donnelly, Rory Grogan, Martin Mullan, Darragh Daly, Caolan Daly, Ryan Daly, Michael Donnelly, Rory Loughran, Jonathon Munroe, Barry Daly, Gerard Munroe, Maurice Kelly, Paddy Mc Crory