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Devlin caps amazing year by lifting Hugh Duff Memorial Cup…

Friday 17.05.2013
Team Talk Mag
Club


The 40×20 handball season effectively concluded last weekend when Barry Devlin added more gloss to an outstanding season by lifting the Tyrone senior championship title in Beragh on Sunday evening.
The Breacach player has enjoyed a magnificent campaign which has brought him an Irish Nationals trophy, a world championship silver medal, a first Ulster junior championship singles title, and an All-Ireland junior runner-up medal, plus he was an Ulster junior doubles finalist along the way.
His impressive victory in the county mens open singles final over Carrickmore’s Darragh Daly, who plays in the senior division at national level, is further evidence of how far Barry has progressed in the last twelve months.
Following Saturday evening’s semi-finals in Loughmacrory, it was guaranteed there would be a new winner of the Tyrone senior crown because the title holder, Shane O’Neill, this year’s Ulster intermediate champion, had to retire injured during a close contest with his clubmate Barry Devlin, with the score at 18-17 in Barry’s favour, while Darragh Daly saw off the challenge of Conor McElduff in the other semi-final.
Barry went into the county final as underdog but he has continued to rise to the various challenges he’s faced over the last eight months and he kept his outstanding run going by defying the odds once more.
After winning the opening game by six points, 21-15, he lost by four in the second game, 17-21, before showing the type of character that has helped him come through some big tests this season as he clinched the honours in the tiebreaker, winning 11-4.
While Barry was winning his first Tyrone senior title, another well known name inscribed on the senior roll of honour secured the county mens b singles title on Sunday evening as Niall Kerr overcame some of the province’s best young handballers to add yet another accolade to his long list of successes.
Despite the big age gap between Niall and his three opponents, the Ulster masters champion demonstrated that he has lost none of his appetite or quality as he saw off the challenges of Ulster minor doubles champions, Patrick McCrory and Johnny Woods, in the quarter-final and semi-final respectively, with both encounters requiring a tiebreaker.
Those two wins set Niall up for a title decider with the Ulster minor singles champion Gabhain McCrystal, a player that Niall has helped coach to victory on many occasions, including in the recent Irish Nationals 17 & under competition, in which Gabhainn defeated the All-Ireland minor champion to emerge with the trophy. But this time there was to be no winner’s trophy for Gabhainn as Niall sealed the title in straight games.
The third adult county title decided recently was in the inaugural over 35 singles championship, which went the way of county secretary, Martin Toner, who emerged with the spoils following some close battles in Beragh and Loughmacrory.
The two semi-finals in Loughmacrory were both keenly contested, with Martin Toner losing his opening game, 21-9, to Seamus McCrory before fighting back to take the second game impressively (21-2), and then winning the tiebreaker 11-5.
Eamon McCrory was in fine form in the second semi-final but had to withstand a persistent challenge from Finbarr Fullen before clinching his place in the final with a 21-18, 21-17 success.
The decider was yet another close affair as Eamon won the opening game convincingly, 21-9, only to be pegged back in the second as Martin staged another comeback to force a tiebreaker with a 21-18 win.
The Loughmacrory man then found a bit extra and delivered some great kill shots to claim victory on a scoreline of 11-1.
The three adult county championships have brought the curtain down on another memorable 40×20 handball season in which Tyrone players again made their mark at various levels.
As Barry Devlin ends the ‘small alley’ season with the top prize in Tyrone, and many other outstanding victories under his belt, a special mention must also be given to Eilise McCrory, who captured the Tyrone, Ulster and All-Ireland under-15 singles titles in 2013, plus the All-Ireland junior colleges doubles title, before rounding off a brilliant season with a stunning win in the Irish Nationals 15 & under singles event.
All of Tyrone’s leading players, young and old, now have their sights set on the forthcoming one-wall events, as well as the 2013 60×30 championships.

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