The 40×20 GAA Handball season in Tyrone is well underway with the GAA Handball Leagues reaching the latter stages pre Christmas with a full programme of finals in the first week of January 2016.
Meanwhile the full programme of Adult and Juvenile Singles Championships has just been released with 233 players in all set to compete across the grades.
The 2016 Tyrone GAA Handball Adult 40×20 Championships will actually get underway during the Christmas break with one round of matches to be staged in the Mens Open Senior Singles Championships on Tuesday 29th December.
With the Tyrone GAA Handball Leagues set to conclude in the first week of January 2016, the championships will then take centre stage with both the adult and Juvenile Championships getting underway from an early stage in January.
The Mens Open Senior Championship is set to attract considerable interest again with Carrickmore’s Darragh Daly bidding for a three-in-a-row in that grade. Daly has denied Conor McElduff at the final hurdle in the 40×20 series in the past two seasons while former champion, Shane O’Neill, has been showing solid form again in the league and is likely to be in the shakeup.
The most likely other title challenges could come from a number of rising stars in the game in the county with many anticipating a big showing from triple worlds gold medal winner and Teamtalkmag Handballer of the Year, Johnny Woods. Double US 19& Under Nationals champion, Gabhain McCrystall is also certain to be in with a big chance as is the Carrickmore duo of Ryan Mullan and Patrick McCrory. Another former champion, Barry Devlin, who defeated Darragh Daly to win the title in 2013, could well put in a big run too.
Breacach’s Sean Kerr is one of the big fancies in 2016 for All Ireland Minor Championship honours and will be expecting to put a bold bid in for honours too and certainly could cause a stir along the way.
She’s Ace Ladies Open Singles Championship
The Ladies Open singles championship will see Breacach’s Eilise McCrory bid to defend the title she won in 2015 while Maeve McElduff will hoping to win back the honours, having claimed the title back in 2014. A number of the young players emerging in ladies handball in Tyrone also contest the Ladies Open Championship for the first time in 2016 with Michaela McCartan, Ciara Mullan, Elizabeth McGarvey, Caitlin Conway, Emer Kerr and Mairead Fox completing the lineup alongside Michelle Warren.
233 players compete in Tyrone 40×20 Championships
There are 233 players in all in this year’s Tyrone GAA Handball leagues and championships with a very competitive look to the championship grades indeed. The Masters Singles (35+) Championship has a wide open look to it with 16 players contesting albeit Breacach’s Niall Kerr will be a hot favourite to retain his crown in that event.
The 2016 Tyrone GAA Handball Juvenile 40×20 Championships will get underway in early January and it must be said that the line-ups across the grades have a most impressive look about them. There are 134 juvenile players overall in the Juvenile singles championships with the total rising to just over 150 Juveniles competing in this year’s Tyrone GAA Handball Juvenile 40×20 Championships with doubles and blitzes to follow.
Big Juvenile championship challenges
Indeed the blue ribband event of Juvenile handball, the Boys Under 16 Singles Championship, has possibly never been so competitive in respect of the number of high quality players featuring in the event. When considering that just three players from the line-up will make the county under 16 team for the 2016 Ulster and All Ireland Juvenile Championships, it gives an indication of how strong this grade is in Tyrone and the progress being made in the O’Neill County. In that light we thought we would highlight the strength of this grade which comprises:
The 2015 Ulster & All Ireland Under 16 Singles Championship Runner up, Cormac Munroe; The 2015 Ulster & All Ireland Under 16 Doubles Championship Runner up, Darragh Canavan; The 2015 Ulster & All Ireland Under 15 Singles Champion, Antoin Fox; The 2015 Ulster & All Ireland Under 15 Doubles Champions, Ronan Curran and Shane Grimes; The 2015 Ulster & All Ireland Under 14 Singles Champion, Lorcan McBride; The 2015 Ulster Under 14 Doubles Champion, Dara Curran.
That does not even include the fact that all seven players above have also won a number of other titles in 2015 which includes a gold and six silver medals at the World Handball Championships. When considering that four players from that seven will not even make the Tyrone County handball team and it shows the strength within the county at this level.
The Girls Under 16 Championship is also very strong this year with Michaela McCartan, Ciara Mullan, Elizabteh McGarvey and Caitlin Conway all possessing very real claims for the 2016 honours.
Elsewhere, Cahir Munroe will be a hot favourite for Under 14 honours and Ciaran Cuddy is a player to look out for in the Under 17 grade in 2016. At Under 10, Under 11 and Under 12 level the standards are extremely high within the county too with very big numbers again taking to the courts in the upcoming championships.
Overall there are just over 200 players competing in the 2016 Tyrone GAA Handball Championships and it would appear that there is a strong challenge for top honours at provincial and national level too in the year ahead.
The full programme of doubles championships will follow early new year also.
Here are the links for all Competitions:
2016 JUVENILE Singles 40×20 Championships:
2016 ADULT Singles 40×20 Championships:
2015/16 Tyrone GAA Handball LEAGUES:
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