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World Handball Championship

Monday 13.08.2018
Team Talk Mag

Conor McElduff and Mairead Fox, two of the elite young talents in Irish handball, headed off last week to Minnesota with the official Ireland team for the 2018 world handball championships, which began last Thursday and will continue until 19th August.

Tyrone are currently well represented in the world championships but Conor and Mairead are official members of Team Ireland and both have high expectations of returning home with gold medals.

“I am looking to take home gold from Minnesota and become the first ever Irish man to win the One Wall Open world title,” insisted a buoyant McElduff before he departed.  “It’s a huge honour to be part of Team Ireland. Not many sports people get to represent their country in the sport they love so this is an opportunity I shall relish.

“I’ve been looking foward to these world championships so much for a long time but since winning the nationals the excitement has been growing,” enthused Conor. “This really means a lot to me. Having already claimed every Irish wallball title and become European number one earlier in the year, winning the worlds would be the cherry on top of my best season ever,” added the 24 year old who is now widely regarded as the best one wall handballer that Ireland has ever seen.

“My preparations couldn’t have been better, I have trained well and I am now ready to compete,” he continued. “My form recently is the best it’s ever been, everything has just been clicking for me lately, so I am heading into this event with a lot of confidence.

“This means everything to me, handball is a huge part of my life, I’ve made a lot of sacrifices and I’ve given everything I can to this sport, so anything less than victory in Minnesota will be a disappointment,” concluded a determined McElduff who launched his worlds on Sunday with an impressive first round victory in the men’s open doubles.

Meanwhile Conor’s Ireland colleague Mairead Fox also has gold medals in her sights and she explained that this event is something she’s had on her mind for almost six years.

“I’ve been talking about this trip since I was sitting in the citywest in Dublin at the 2012 worlds, working out when I would be the right age to win world titles and make it onto Ireland teams,” reflected the prodigious Loughmacrory talent. “To me it seemed like a lifetime away but it has come around so quickly.

I’ve talked a lot with my parents about the sacrifices and commitments that you have to make in order to become the best at any sport. But whenever I’m with my family and my coach Kenny (Curran) coming back home with another title secured it makes every sacfrice worth it,” insisted Mairead, who has amassed an astonishing thirteen official national titles already in her career, including four so far in 2018.

“My target for these world championships is definitely to come home with 3 gold medals,” the 15 year old star revealed.  “A world gold medal is something I’ve longed for and after all the Irish titles that I’ve won it’s something I now want to win so much.

“I can happily say that my form has been very good this year,” Mairead added,  “and to me it was down to the extra hunger I’ve had as I’ve been planning for this world championship year since I was 10 years old and it was the Team Ireland place and the worlds that drove me on. The most prestigious juvenile title, the under 16 all Ireland, was also something I had my sights set on for a long time and I won it earlier this year.  “I feel like I’ve trained to the best of my ability all year and I’m so ready for these worlds, and being part of this Ireland team is something special to me, words can’t describe how much I’ve wanted this opportunity.

“Wearing the ireland jersey is definitely something I will relish on the court and use to my advantage, and it will be such a great experience to be with the Irish team in America as we all get along so well. I certainly won’t complain about all the kit I’ve got either! “It would make the trip even sweeter if I won the doubles title with my sister Dearbhail, we’ve talked about this for a long time in my family, and there was never a chance I would play with anyone other than my own sister.

“I have to give it to Dearbhail for the unbelievable effort she has been putting in recently, she’s at the age now (13) where she can win important titles and that’s what is starting to drive her on, and maybe seeing me succeed makes her that bit hungrier for success too.

“We get along so well and I would love to see her doing well in the future because of her genuine love for the sport. I just hope we can pick up a doubles world title in America together and that would certainly be the icing on the cake,” concluded the former Ulster Herald young sports personality of the year who opened her campaign on Sunday with a first round win in the 15 and under wallball singles at the University of Minnesota.

Conor and Mairead are among a strong representation from Tyrone at the 2018 world handball championships and Sean Kerr is the first player from the county to reach a world final after making his way impressively into the wallball 19 and under singles decider.




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