Dean Maguirc Claim Historic Honours

December 18th, 2012

With a real buzz in the sport in the aftermath of the record breaking World Handball
Championships 2012, more and more schools nationwide are starting to play the
game as part of GAA Handball’s One-Wall Schools Initiative.

Over the past few months, to build on this momentum, Ulster GAA’s Regional
Development Officers have coordinated a series of ‘One-Wall’ Schools Handball
Blitzes in each county within the province, in a build up to a Provincial Finals
day. The tournament structure is based on a team format with each school being
represented by four players in two doubles pairings, all playing on a timed game
basis. The new format in itself provided a real challenge, but the ever-increasing
standard of play, particularly in traditionally non-Handballing areas meant the
tournaments were fiercely competitive throughout.

The winners from each county blitz qualified to the Provincial Finals Day, hosted by
St Ciarans Ballygawley in an action filled day. In total, eight schools competed on the
day due to a late withdrawal;

St Pats College Armagh
St Michaels College Enniskillen
Dean Maguirc College Carrickmore
St Pats College Downpatrick
St Colm’s High School Draperstown
St Macartans College Monaghan
Holy Trinity College Cookstown
St Pats College Cavan

With four schools each competing in two qualifying groups, each school was
guaranteed three matches, with both group winners only being decided after the
last match. Group 1 saw Dean Maguirc College pip St Macartans College Monaghan
to the post by a mere point and progress to the Ulster Final, whilst St Pat Cavan
remained consistent through to claim top sport in Group 2 despite gallant fight backs
from both St Pats Downpatrick and Holy Trinity Cookstown.

Both schools clearly benefitted from the wise words of their respective coaches,
Conal Curran (Dean Maguirc) and James Brady (St Pats Cavan), both of whom are
experienced Handballers in their own right. With an Annual Shield for the winners,
and Official Ulster medals, sponsored by Ulster GAA, the prize on offer, finalists were
provided additional incentives for glory.

The final saw a large crowd gather around the Show Court for the first double
pairings from each school compete in a 21 ace game, with 1 point available for the
winning team. From the outset, Dean Maguirc looked comfortable and eased to
the win 21-11. This result meant St Pats had to win the second doubles to force a
tiebreaker, and this they did, responding brilliantly under pressure to win 21-16. For
the first time in the entire tournament, a tiebreaker was required which saw both
teams field a doubles pairing in a 15 ace game. The game was neck and neck all the
way up to 10-10, when Dean Maguirc made a surge and held a 14-10 lead, serving
for the match. However a spirited comeback from St Pats seen the game leveled
at 14-14, and with the momentum behind them, everyone in the rapturous crowd
expected St Pats to push on and claim the title. However against all odds, Dean

Maguirc stepped up to the mark and sealed a 15-14 victory in an epic battle, which
had the crowd on the edge of their seats throughout.

‘Dean Maguirc College 2012’ will be the historic first names on the now annual event,
and GAA Handball would like to recognize Ulster GAA RDO’s Shane McCann, Paul
Callaghan and Ryan Mellon for their drive and promotion of this event, and making
the process possible. Plans are already in place for an older age group event in 2013,
in a tournament that is sure to attract increases interest year on year.