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Dean Maguirc Claim Ulster ‘One Wall’ Title

Tuesday 18.12.2012
Team Talk Mag

There’s a real buzz in the air about Handball in the aftermath of the record breaking World Championships.  More and more schools nationwide are starting to play the game as part of GAA Handball’s One-Wall Schools initiative.

Over the past few months, to build on this momentum, Ulster GAA’s Regional Development Officers have coordinated a series of ‘One-Wall’ Schools Handball Blitzes in each county within the province, in a build up to a Provincial Finals day. The tournament structure is based on a team format with each school being represented by four players in two doubles pairings, all playing on a timed game basis. The new format in itself provided a real challenge, but the ever-improving standard of play, particularly in traditionally non-Handballing areas meant the tournaments were fiercely competitive throughout.

The winners from each county blitz qualified for the Provincial Finals Day, hosted by St Ciarans Ballygawley. In total, eight schools competed on the day due to a late withdrawal;

St Patrick’s College, Armagh
St Michaels College, Enniskillen
Dean Maguirc College, Carrickmore
St Patrick’s College, Downpatrick
St Colm’s High School, Draperstown
St Macartans College, Monaghan
Holy Trinity College, Cookstown
St Patrick’s College, Cavan

With four schools each competing in two qualifying groups, each school was guaranteed three matches.  Both group winners were decided after the last match. Group 1 saw Dean Maguirc College pip St Macartans College Monaghan to the post by a single point and progress to the Ulster Final.  Whilst St Patrick’s Cavan remained consistent through to claim top sport in Group 2 despite gallant fight backs from both St Patrick’s Downpatrick and Holy Trinity College Cookstown.

Both schools clearly benefitted from the wise words of their respective coaches, Conal Curran (Dean Maguirc) and James Brady (St Patrick’s Cavan), both of whom are experienced Handballers in their own right. Ulster GAA sponsored the medals for the winning teams.

The final saw a large crowd gather around the Show Court for the first double pairings from each school compete in a 21 ace game, with 1 point available for the winning team. From the outset, Dean Maguirc looked comfortable and eased to the win 21-11. This result meant St Pats had to win the second doubles to force a tiebreaker.  This they did, responding brilliantly under pressure to win 21-16. For the first time in the tournament, a tiebreaker was required.  Both teams fielded a doubles pairing in a 15 ace game. The game was neck and neck all the way up to 10-10.  Then Dean Maguirc made a surge and held a 14-10 lead, serving for the match. However a spirited comeback from St Pats seen the game leveled at 14-14, and with the momentum behind them, everyone in the rapturous crowd expected St Pat’s to push on and claim the title. However against the odds, Dean Maguirc stepped up to the mark and sealed a 15-14 victory in an epic battle, which had the crowd on the edge of their seats throughout.

Dean Maguirc College 2012’ will be the historic first name on the trophy. GAA Handball would like to recognize Ulster GAA RDO’s Shane McCann, Paul Callaghan

and Ryan Mellon for their drive and promotion of this event and making the process possible.  Plans are already in place for an older age group event in 2013.



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