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Handball Summer Report And Latest News

Wednesday 11.09.2013
Team Talk Mag

Tyrone handballers hoping for late summer glory in ‘big alley’…

It has been a great summer for Tyrone handball with a mixture of some great triumphs in both the one-wall and 60×30 codes and there’s another big weekend of action coming up with a busy programme of All-Ireland 60×30 semi-finals and finals lined up, and Tyrone will be represented in some key fixtures.

Loughmacrory will host an attractive programme of All-Ireland juvenile semi-finals on Saturday and Sunday, with the home county represented in six matches against the visiting Munster champions, but the biggest fixtures from a Tyrone perspective will be staged on Saturday in Kells, County Meath, where the McElduff family will be striving to complete another famous double on the national stage.

Conor and Maeve McElduff completed a stunning double in early summer when they both collected major titles at the national one-wall championships and now the pair will attempt to achieve something similar in the ‘big alley’ as they set their sights on more glory in the traditional 60×30 arena.

Conor faces a difficult hurdle in the form of Kilkenny’s Brendan Burke in the mens junior b singles decider on Saturday but the Breacach player will be ready for the challenge following his outstanding semi-final win over Cork’s Dale Cusack, which he eventually won on a scoreline of 21-19, 8-21, 21-16. That match will stand the Tyrone player in great stead for Saturday’s engagement and the confidence that Conor gained back in July from his one wall success will also spur him on.

Conor savoured one of the sweetest moments of his career at Breaffy House back in July as he captured the national 19 & under one-wall prize in impressive fashion, clinching the title with a smooth victory in the final over Cork’s Ryan Harkin.

Conor, who overcame a serious knee injury last year, had gone agonisingly close to claiming some big scalps in recent years and this triumph will surely give him an extra spring in his step and the confidence and composure to go on and fulfil his undoubted potential in the seasons ahead.

His sister Maeve, who was All-Ireland minor singles runner-up in the 40×20 court earlier this year, will take on Mayo’s Jennifer Fahy in the ladies 60×30 junior singles final in Kells this weekend. Maeve has a tough match on her hands but will very much fancy her chances of continuing her impressive climb up the handball rankings.

Maeve’s stunning victory over Ciana Ni Churraoin in the girls 17 & under singles final in July was arguably the highlight, and the most notable achievement by any player, at the 2013 one-wall nationals.

Ciana, who led Galway minor ladies footballers to All-Ireland glory this summer, is widely regarded as the most talented young female handballer this country has ever produced and Maeve knows that better than anyone as she has been on the receiving end of many of Ciana’s best performances in recent years. However, Maeve is an outstanding talent in her own right and has pushed the Galway star all the way in some of their biggest clashes.

But this time it was Maeve who was to finish on the right side of the result as the Tyrone star produced a sparkling performance to emerge with a thrilling 17-15 win over the All-Ireland minor 40×20 singles champion and dual world 17 & under singles champion.

Maeve, who partnered Ciana to the world 19 & under one-wall doubles title last October, finished the job off in style in her latest meeting with Ciana and as her great rival tried her best to claw back the deficit in the closing stages of their 15-minute timed encounter, Maeve remained resolute to the end and made sure there was no way she was going to be overtaken on this occasion.

The McElduff success story wasn’t the only reason for Tyrone and Breacach handball followers to fondly remember the 2013 one-wall nationals because the Beragh based club also completed another famous family double in Breaffy House courtesy of the Kerrs, Niall and Sean.

Niall, an uncle of Conor and Maeve McElduff, has been one of Tyrone handball’s greatest servants over the last few decades and nobody is more deserving of any success that comes his way because of what he continues to put into the sport.

Niall added another title to his long list of handball honours with a dominant showing in the silver masters decider against Wexford’s Michael Armstrong, with Niall prevailing on a scoreline of 28-6.

But if Niall’s title was claimed with ease, his son Sean had to pull off the best comeback of the entire season to secure the national title in the 15 & under division. The skilful young Breacach player was trailing his final meeting with Mayo’s Niall Joyce by four points (16-12) with barely a minute remaining on the clock but he refused to panic and somehow managed to snatch the four aces he required to send the contest to extra-time.

And in brilliant fashion, Sean made the most of his narrow escape to score five unanswered aces and join his two cousins and his dad on the winners rostrum with a winning scoreline of 21-16.

Niall Kerr wasn’t able to carry over his sensational one wall form into the 60×30 court as he recently lost out at the All-Ireland semi-final stage to Munster silver masters champion, Tipperary’s Adrian Johnston, while his clubmates Shane O’Neill and Gabhain McCrystal also suffered semi-final defeats to opponents from Tipperary and Limerick in the intermediate and minor singles championships, but Tyrone have made it through to the All-Ireland junior b doubles final courtesy of Conor McElduff and Pol Clarke who enjoyed a great win over Cork in their semi-final last week.

While a quartet of Tyrone players went all the way in the recent one-wall nationals with some outstanding victories, there were four more Tyrone players who just missed out.

Cormac Munroe continued his fanstastic run in 2013 as he reached another major final but the exciting Carrickmore prospect eventually lost out to Clare’s highly regarded Tiarnan Agnew in the boys 13 & under singles final, while Elizabeth McGarvey went down valiantly to Galway’s Rosin Gannon in the girls under-13 b singles final but Elizabeth has another year still ahead of her in this age group.

Loughmacrory’s Caitlin Conway produced a brilliant sequence of results to qualify for the girls 11 & under decider and was one of the unluckiest players of the entire event as she led for most of her match only to be caught in the last few seconds by Kildare’s Mollie Dagg who claimed a 13-11 win.

And Gabhain McCrystall was even more unfortunate in the boys 17 & under final as he suffered defeat by the narrowest of margins, 16-15, at the hands of world 17 & under 40×20 champion, Clare’s Colin Crehan. This was the third big meeting of these two players in 2013, with Crehan winning a classic All-Ireland minor semi-final tie (40×20) before Gabhain bounced back to defeat Crehan in the 40×20 nationals final, but this time it was the Clare player who emerged with the spoils.

In the mens open event in Breaffy House, Tyrone’s hopes were pinned on Ulster champion Darragh Daly but things didn’t work out for the Carrickmore man who played a huge part in the organising of the whole event which was another major success for Irish handball. Darragh has since travelled to Colombia as manager of the Irish team which took part in the World Games.

It has certainly been a magnificent year for the Breacach club across all handball codes as the club added to their success story in July with a notable win over Leixlip in the girls national feile division two final in Limerick. This was a great achievement by Cloideach Donaghy, Emer Kerr, Elizabeth McGarvey and Michaela McCartan.

Meanwhile, Breacach will be very strongly represented among the younger Tyrone players who will bid for All-Ireland 60×30 final places close to home this weekend.

Eilise McCrory, who has enjoyed a magnificent year so far, will come up against Clare’s very talented Doireann Murphy in what could be the match of the day in the under-15 girls singles, with Loughmacrory’s Aoife Kelly representing the host club in the under-16 singles semi-final against Tipperary’s Roisin Cahill.

Saturday’s programme will also see Carrickmore’s Pauric Mullan take on Cork’s Kevin O’Connell in the under-15 boys singles semi-final, while his sister Ciara faces Sinead Meagher in the girls under-14 semi-final.

On Sunday, Tyrone will feature in two doubles semi-finals in Loughmacrory as the talented Breacach/Carrickmore combination of Sean Kerr and Niall Allison meet Limerick’s Evan Murphy and Nigel O’Callaghan in the under-16 grade and Breacach pair Jack Campbell and Aaron Owens face Limerick’s Shane Murphy and Ben Walsh in the under-17 doubles semi-final.


M Donnelly 60×30 All Ireland Finals…
Saturday 14th September in Kells, Meath @ 4pm
Junior B Singles: Kilkenny (Brendan Burke) v Tyrone (Conor McElduff)
Ladies Junior Singles: Mayo (Jennifer Fahy) v Tyrone (Maeve McElduff)

All-Ireland 60×30 Juvenile semi-finals…
Saturday 14th September in Loughmacrory:
BU15S (Tyrone) Pauric Mullan v (Cork) Kevin O’Connell
GU15S (Tyrone) Eilise McCrory v (Clare) Doireann Murphy
GU14S (Tyrone) Ciara Mullan v (Tipperary) Sinead Meagher
GU16S (Tyrone) Aoife Kelly v (Tipperary) Roisin Cahill
Sunday 15th September in Loughmacrory:
BU16D (Tyrone) Sean Kerr / Niall Allison v (Limerick) Evan Murphy / Nigel O’Callaghan
BU17D (Tyrone) Jack Campbell / Aaron Owens v (Limerick) Shane Murphy / Ben Walsh



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