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GAA Handball News

Tuesday 19.03.2024
Team Talk Mag
All Ireland Series


Tyrone tops All Ireland juvenile roll of honour

Tyrone topped the All Ireland juvenile roll of honour for the 40×20 championships by emerging with a sensational tally of six titles from Saturday’s 2024 juvenile championship finals in Croke Park.
Twelve months ago the county was represented in just one All Ireland juvenile final and captured the girls U16 doubles prize only, but it was a totally different story in 2024 as Tyrone lifted the boys U15 singles and doubles titles, the boys U17 singles and doubles titles, and two of the girls titles at U14 singles and U17 doubles.
It’s a spectacular turnaround from twelve months ago as the 2024 finals served up one of the greatest days in the county’s handball history.

Emma Conway was Tyrone’s hugely impressive winner of the elite U14 girls singles title and the young Greencastle star couldn’t have lifted her first All Ireland championship gold medal in more emphatic fashion as she defeated Wexford’s Angel Cronin Kenny on a scoreline of 15-4, 15-1.
Emma has now lifted two massive grade A titles in 2024 by taking the junior nationals (13&U) and All Ireland 40×20 singles honours and incredibly she’s still U14 next year.

The sky is the limit for the young Greencastle star and there should be a lot more to come from her as the year progresses towards the world championships where she will be a big player in both codes.
Emma becomes the third Tyrone girl in history to claim the All Ireland U14 singles title, following in the footsteps of Mairead Fox and Clodagh Munroe.

Sean Donnelly, Aaron McElhone and Marcus Conway completed a clean sweep for Tyrone in the U15 grade with superb singles and doubles title wins.

A year ago, none of these three lads was on the county U14 team so their rate of progress has been phenomenal inside twelve months.
Sean was involved in the match of the day in Croke Park as he took on Roscommon’s Seamie Carthy in the U15 singles final and what a contest it turned out to be.
Sean was in ruthless form in the first game with his power serves and kills and he looked like he was going to dominate the decider as he registered a 15-3 win in the opener.
Things began to change as the Roscommon player slowed things down with an effective lob serve and suddenly it was one game all as Carthy levelled the match with a 15-10 scoreline.

The tiebreaker was a real rollercoaster with both players enjoying good spells. Sean wasn’t able to dictate things and play the way he had done in the first game but he was displaying superb character and was showing a great willingness to fight to the end.
At 14-11, it appeared that he had shaken off his challenger but there was more to come as suddenly Sean found himself in a nail-biting climax with the scoreboard reading 14 points each and the next point was set to decide who would be All Ireland champion.
Carthy had two serves at match point but Sean wasn’t going to let the match slip at this stage and he somehow managed to snatch a dramatic 15-14 victory to bring the U15 singles title back to Carrickmore.

Aaron and Marcus also faced Roscommon in the U15 doubles decider and although it didn’t quite provide the drama of the singles final, the two Tyrone lads still had to play well and battle hard to get the result they wanted.
These two lads have gelled exceptionally well this season and they showed great teamwork on Saturday to record a comfortable 15-5 win in the opener against Michael Greene and John Reilly but the second game proved to be a much tighter affair which was eventually won by the Roscommon pair by a single point (15-14).
Marcus and Aaron refused to panic however and they regained their composure in the tiebreaker to take the title on a scoreline of 15-7.
Aaron’s win meant a second gold medal for Carrickmore, while Marcus’s gold medal was the second heading back to the Conway household in Greencastle on a famous day for the club and family.

Carrickmore’s third gold medal arrived in the form of Shea Munroe’s stylish victory in the All Ireland U17 singles final against Wexford’s Rory Goff.
It’s unusual that a player of Shea’s quality is eligible for the U17 grade but he missed the opportunity to play at U14 because of covid and he didn’t play for Tyrone in his final year at U16 level, so this allowed him to play in the U17 grade, and as expected he proved too good for the opposition throughout the championship, rounding things off with a 21-8, 21-7 triumph on Saturday.
This win backs up Shea’s stunning grade A success in the Irish Junior nationals back in February and his inclusion on Team Ireland for the World 40×20 Championships later this year.
Shea’s handball achievements this year are all the more remarkable considering he is playing for the Tyrone minor footballers in 2024 and was in the Tyrone U16 hurling team up until the end of 2023. There’s a lot more still to come from Shea in the months ahead as he is also a superb one wall handballer and hopefully he can continue to show that it’s possible to combine county football and handball commitments at a high level as this has been difficult in recent years.

Tyrone also secured the boys and girls U17 doubles titles on Saturday with three Breacach players making their presence felt in the oldest juvenile grade.
Cahir Owens and Oisin Kelly teamed up to defeat Kilkenny in brilliant style in the boys final on a 21-15, 21-12 scoreline, while Cara McCrory linked up with Pomeroy’s Laura Delaney to capture the girls U17 doubles title with an impressive 21-9, 21-12 win over Kilkenny.
It was a great achievement for Breacach to claim three gold medals but it was particularly pleasing to see a Pomeroy player make the national roll of honour for 2024 to honour the memory of ‘Bing’ Kennedy who passed away recently.
And there couldn’t have been a more deserving winner than Laura who has loved her handball and has continued to make eye-catching progress over the years. She is a worthy All Ireland medal winner and this success will also provide a significant boost to the Pomeroy club.

Tyrone lost out in just two finals on Saturday as Greencastle pair Aimee Fox and Grace Teague went agonisingly close in the U14 doubles final against Kilkenny, losing 15-11, 15-13, having led in both games until the closing stages.
Tyrone’s Niamh O’Gara and Katie Marley were also unlucky not to earn a tiebreaker in the girls U15 doubles final as they lost 15-1, 15-14 to Kilkenny.

Overall though, this was a big day for Tyrone handball and shows that the game is in a healthy state in the county in 2024.

And as the All Ireland juvenile handball finals were ending in the Croke Park national handball centre on Saturday afternoon, former Tyrone juvenile handballers Ruairi McCullagh, Eoin Donaghy and Sean McCann were starring for Omagh CBS in the Hogan Cup final next door, bringing another All Ireland title back to Tyrone.



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