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Tyrone handball reflects on historic year…

Wednesday 09.01.2013
Team Talk Mag
Club


Tyrone handball followers had the opportunity to reflect on a year of unprecedented success at the annual county convention in Beragh last Sunday as Carrickmore’s Paul Allison was elected as the new chairman of GAA handball in Tyrone for 2013.
Outgoing secretary, Martin Toner, presented a comprehensive report of handball activity in Tyrone during the last twleve months and the theme was very much a positive one, especially in terms of the exploits of Tyrone’s underage players in 2012.
It was a record breaking season for the county in the All-Ireland 40×20 juvenile championships, with four national titles coming home from Kilkenny back in April. Sean Kerr, with the first of several national accolades, took the under-14 singles crown and three doubles titles were added on the same day as the under-15 boys, under-16 boys and under-16 girls prizes were captured by Jack Campbell, Pauric Mullan, Johnny Woods, Ryan Mullan, Maeve McElduff and Aoife Kelly. It could have been more, only for Matthew McCartan and Shane McCrystall to be denied glory in a close under-14 doubles encounter.
Never before had Tyrone registered four All-Ireland juvenile wins in one season and the very same feat was later accomplished in the 60×30 All-Ireland championships as Sean Kerr led the way again with another under-14 singles victory. Johnny Woods and Ryan Mullan completed the double at under-16 level and Maeve McElduff and Aoife Kelly scaled the summit once more in the girls under-16 doubles category.
Pol Clarke, who later ended the year with a stunning USHA under-17 doubles title, teamed up with Gabhainn McCrsytall and claimed the under-17 doubles title in the 60×30 court, the pair having being cruelly denied by the narrowest of margins by Clare in the 40×20 minor doubles final, losing 21-20 in the tiebreaker. Jack Campbell and Aaron Owens came agonisingly close to adding another All-Ireland in the 60×30 under-15 doubles final.
The Irish one wall nationals in early July brought further success Tyrone’s way as Sean Kerr and Jack Campbell conquered all before them in the 13 & under and 15 & under sections, Jack securing a prestigious place in the Irish team for the world championships alongside national under-23 runner-up, Caolan Daly.
The World handball championships, over 11 days in October, turned out to be the most spectacular handball event in history, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Chris Curran and fellow Tyrone man, Darragh Daly, two of the main men behind the huge extravaganza which saw more than 2000 players in action in a purpose built arena at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin.
And the Tyrone success story continued as Lorcan McBride, Antoin Fox, Dara Curran, Ciara Mullan, Niall Allison, Johnny Woods and Maeve McElduff all secured precious gold medals, with Lorcan McBride finishing the championships with a magnificent tally of three golds and one silver in the 11 & under competitions.
Ciaran Curran, Niall Kerr, Caolan Daly, Barry Devlin, Patrick McCrory, Aoife Kelly, Elise McCrory, Maeve McElduff, Cormac Munroe and Dara Canavan also returned home from the world championships in the Citywest in Dublin with medals, all picking up hard earned silvers.
Brackey pulled off another famous All-Ireland feile title in July, with Sean Kerr again to the fore along with Turlough Clarke, Tiernan McCrystall and Matthew McCartan, while the club just missed out on the All-Ireland junior club title in early December.
There were plenty of additional triumphs for local players throughout 2012 in the colleges and provincial championships, while the one wall tournament circuit continues to prove fruitful for Tyrone players as young stars like Niall Allison, Sean Kerr, Maeve McElduff, Cormac Munroe, Johnny Woods, Elise McCrory, Patrick McCrory, Cathair Munroe and Emer Kerr all recorded great wins at various venues last season.
Ryan Mullan, Pauric Mullan and Sean Kerr added to the county’s medal tally for 2012 as they won 60×30 nationals titles, ensuring the latter ended the year with a clean sweep of every possible national title he could have won in his age group during the season, spanning every code of GAA handball.

In the Cumann na mBunscoil, there were national triumphs for Ronan Curran, Antoin Fox, Emer Kerr and Elizabeth McGarvey, while Dean Maguirc were recently crowned Ulster one wall team champions courtesy of Cormac Munroe, Ciaran Cuddy, Ronan Curran and Padraig Begley.
And right at the very end of 2012, Conor McElduff, one wall nationals runner-up at under-19 in the summer, almost pulled off a sensational win in the United States under-19 open singles championship, reaching the final before losing narrowly to Brant Bidegain. This was a particularly big achievement considering Conor’s long injury lay off earlier in the season.
At adult level, none of the major national titles came to Tyrone but there were notable successes for Caolan Daly, Shane O’Neill, Conor Duff, Niall Kerr, Lisa McAleer and the McCrory brothers in Ulster, and other players such as Ruairi Kelly and Darragh Daly performed with distinction at the top level. Ciaran Curran, who returned to top level handball in 2012, and Padraic McGlinchey also had their moments on the national stage, while Eamon McCory reached the mens challenger final at the one wall nationals and Michael Donnelly and Tony McElduff won their plate competitions, while Ryan Daly won silverware at the Inis Mor one wall event and Mark McCartan was a finalist in Williamstown.

Overall, 2012 will be fondly remembered in Tyrone handball circles and, as the 2013 Ulster championships get ready to commence, there’s much to look forward to as the county’s young guns set out to make their mark again at the highest level.
Leading the county forward will be new chairman, Paul Allison from Carrickmore, whose son Niall is one of the brightest young handball prospects in Ireland. Paul takes over in the hotseat from Brendan Kennedy, with Loughmacrory’s Martin Toner continuing in the role of secretary and Brackey’s Sean Clarke again carrying out the treasurer’s duties.

Tyrone Handball Committee for 2013…

Chairman – Paul Allison; Secretary – Martin Toner; Assistant Secretary – Ciara Fox; Treasurer – Sean Clarke & John Smith; Communications officer – Kenny Curran; Delegates to Ulster council – Sean Clarke & Paul Allison; Delegates to county committee – Kenny Curran & Martin Toner; Coaching & Development Officer – Niall Kerr; Fixtures committee – Sean Clarke, Martin Mullan, Kenny Curran; She’s Ace officer – Paula Clarke


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