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Loughmacrory handballers set for Worlds 2012…

Thursday 04.10.2012
Team Talk Mag
Club


Loughmacrory handball club are currently putting the final touches to preparations for the historic 2012 World Championships, which will be staged from 11th to 21st October in the Citywest Arena in Dublin.
It will be a truly historic event with more than 3000 matches set to be staged in 22 purpose built courts over an eleven day stretch. There will be handball action every day from 8am until 11pm with more than 2000 players from across the world setting their sights on glory.
The Loughmacrory club, which has a long and proud handballing tradition, has collected one world title in the past, Ciaran Curran capturing the World 23 & Under doubles title in 1994 in Dublin, along with Kilkenny’s D J Carey.
Ciaran lost out to his doubles partner in the under-23 singles final that same year and was unlucky on two other occasions at world championships, firstly in 1991 when he lost to Naty Alvarado by the narrowest of margins, 11-10 in the tie-brealer, in a dramatic under-17 title clash in Phoenix, Arizona. Then, in 2003, the Loughmacrory man was pipped by Cork’s Tony Healy in a thrilling mens open semi-final.
Ciaran has been back training hard in recent months and has a great chance of securing the over-35 singles title this time, and he will be hoping to be competitive at the top level again when he teams up with Armagh’s Charlie Shanks in the mens open doubles event.
Lisa McAleer and Aoife Kelly, two players with international experience under their belt, will be strong Loughmacrory contenders in a couple of the ladies events at the world championships, while younger players Caitlin Conway, Mairead Fox, Aideen Curran and Michaela Curran will compete in the girls under-11 and under-13 competitions. Maria Curran, who has been training the Loughmacrory handball team for the past two months, will also be taking part.
In the boys sections, Dara Curran, Antoin Fox and Patrick Curran will be competing in the under-11 grade, and Ronan Curran will be striving to show his potential in the under-13 grade, with Ryan Curran, Shane McCrystall and Cathair Curran lining up in the under-15 competitions.
At adult level, Joseph Kelly will fly the Loughmacrory flag in the Mens C category, Conal Curran and Martin Toner will hope to push strongly in the over 35 doubles, and Kenny Curran and Finbarr Fullen will feature in the masters section.

Of all the twenty players who will be representing Loughmacrory, Lisa McAleer could represent the club’s best prospect of winning silverware at the World handball championships.
The talented handballer is now hoping the successful run she has enjoyed with the Loughmacrory footballers this year can continue when she steps into the spectacular new complex that is currently being erected at the Citywest Hotel for the biggest event that handball has ever undertaken.

“The Loughmacrory ladies have had a terrific season,” recalls Lisa. “We got to the final of the championship and were unlucky to get beaten in the last few minutes, but we got our own back on Strabane by winning the league title.

“It’s been tough trying to combine the two sports, especially as I broke my collar bone in the first round of the championship and was totally out of action from handball for a considerable while. But I got back to training with the footballers to try and keep my fitness up, and Maria Curran’s group training sessions for the worlds have helped a lot with regard to sharpness and speed,” added the football team’s prolific full forward.
“Since we won the league two weeks ago I have been able to concentrate completely on handball and focus on the big task ahead. Up to that point, I’d been training seven nights a week between football, handball and fitness training, so I hope it all pays off.
“It’s a massive thing for any handballer to take part in the worlds, and for it to be at home this year in Ireland is an extra bonus. We’ve been talking about it since the last worlds and here we are, only a week away!
“The Citywest will be a fantastic facility as it will keep everyone together and guarantee plenty of support,” continued Lisa, “and it will be the biggest championships we’ve ever seen. This will be my fourth world championship, and I am looking forward so much to taking part.
“In 2003 it was held in Ireland, then in 2006 it was staged in Edmonton (Canada), and my last world championship was in 2009 in Portland, Orgeon,where I reached the final of my category. I also took part in the USHA junior nationals in Arizona in 2005 when I reached another final.
“This year I would just love to win my first world title,” enthused Lisa, who is seeded at number two and will be one of the leading contenders in the Womens A singles section. “Being on home soil would make it all the more special and to bring the title back to Loughmacrory would be a dream come true.”
The Ulster intermediate champion, and former All-Ireland juvenile champion, will spearhead the Loughmacrory challenge for honours at the 2012 world championships and, despite the presence of more than 2000 competitors, she believes the club can compete strongly in a number of categories, but she is even more optimisitc about the club’s longer term future.

“We are very happy with the huge progress being made by our juvenilles in the club right now. We are working hard as a club and the spirit, plus the interest within the Loughmacrory community, is fantastic. We have a few rising young stars and the potential is terrific, so we’re excited, not just about these championships but with the calibre of handballers we will have in the future.
“Aoife Kelly is a player with wonderful ability and is well capablie of taking the 15 & Under title home. Antoin Fox is another great young talent and pairing him off with Dara Curran gives us a really strong doubles team in 11 & Under. We have high hopes for both players.
“Caitlin Conway and Mairead Fox will play together in the under-11 doubles and should compete really well. They will certainly be ones to watch in the future.
“There is a great squad of us heading down to Dublin and everyone has been helping each other to get to where they need to be performance wise. You have the likes of older adult players playing against the juvenilles to give them great match practice.

“In the run up to the worlds we came together to organise a 40 hour handball marathon, and the buzz aroud the alley over the two days in September was brilliant.
“We all came together again on Sunday night for our gear to be distributed and we’ve been lucky to get great sponsorship and a lovely new kit. Lets hope we will be able to play as well as we look!
“All of our players, young and old, are looking forward to what lies ahead, and we’re all hoping the Loughmacrory club has a very good ten days!
“Personally, winning a world title is something I have craved since my first worlds in 2003 and maybe I will have a bit of luck on my side this year,” concluded Lisa.

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