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Further Handball Success For Loughmacrory Youngsters

Wednesday 28.08.2019
Team Talk Mag
Club


Loughmacrory handball club created more history last weekend with a groundbreaking triumph in the All Ireland softball feile event in County Wexford.
No Tyrone club had ever captured the All Ireland 60×30 division one feile title before but the Loughmacrory under-14 quartet of Gary McAleer, Thomas Duff, Ruairi McCullagh and Eoin McElholm lifted the title in sensational style.
This latest success also means that Loughmacrory have become the first club ever to complete an All Ireland division one feile double following their fabulous 40×20 title win in Cork back in June.
The Loughmacrory group arrived in Wexford as contenders for the top honours but they had to face a series of tough challenges against opposition from 60×30 strongholds such as Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford and Galway. The Lough lads had put in a great effort in training but this was a new challenge.
In the early part of the day, Loughmacrory had closely fought battles with Moycullen from Galway and Kells from Kilkenny as they familiarised themselves with their surroundings.
By match three however the Tyrone representatives were starting to look like favourites for the All Ireland title and they really stamped their class on the proceedings from then on.
All four players upped their performance to a new level against Friary/Abbeyside/Ballinacourty from Waterford and they continued to grow stronger throughout the day. In match 4 and 5 they were really looking like champions in the making as they despatched the challenges of Clough and Taghmon in clinical fashion.
Loughmacrory ended the group stages with 9 points out of a possible ten after securing 8 wins and 2 draws in their 10 doubles games.
By this stage, Eoin McElholm and Ruairi McCullagh were producing a very high standard of doubles play and their teamwork was a joy to behold as they interchanged regularly and delivered some great killshots and passing shots.
The second Lough doubles team had hit it off from the very first outing and were on fire all day, with Thomas Duff producing the best handball of his life in every match on the right side of the court.
Thomas’s doubles partner, Gary McAleer, was performing in the way that he does on the national stage every time and as the day was progressing he was becoming the standout player on view. Gary was treating the large crowd to 60×30 handball at its best and was showing why he is now regarded as one of the finest juvenile players in Ireland.
Kilkenny side Kells emerged as the second placed team to reach the final and they

had shown earlier that they were a very talented young team, but there was no stopping Loughmacrory at this stage as the lads were determined to complete a famous feile double.
Eoin and Ruairi had drawn their encounter earlier with John Hayes and Cathal Buckley but the All Ireland final was a very different story as Eoin and Ruairi laid on an exhibition of perfect doubles handball to secure a 21-2 scoreline.
It meant that the job was nearly done already but Gary and Thomas went on the court and produced another flawless display to ensure the title was heading to Loughmacrory on an emphatic final scoreline of 39-12.
Unlike the 40×20 feile decider which went right to the wire, this was a day when the Lough lads showed their class throughout and played with the confidence that has come from the success they’ve enjoyed throughout 2019 in both football and handball.
These four lads have been enjoying unprecedented success on the football field with their club and schools in 2019, the highlight being their U14 grade one county league title win with Loughmacrory in which they all excelled.
For Gary McAleer the remarkable success story of 2019 continues as the double feile winning captain has now secured four top national medals with another big one to challenge for in the 60×30 U14 singles championship.
This latest success was another sweet one for the Loughmacrory club who were treated to a civic reception on Tuesday night in recognition of their achievements.
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