Tyrone Juvenile Handballers excel on All Ireland 60×30 Finals stage
Tyrone juvenile handballers have undoubtedly excelled on the national courts in 2014 and on Sunday again exhibited immense quality and character to secure national gold on the All Ireland 60×30 stage. The GAA Handball All Ireland Juvenile 60×30 Championship Finals day in Garryhill, Carlow, saw the O’Neill County compete in a total of four finals and in the end celebrated three outstanding All Ireland championship triumphs. A fantastic climax to another remarkable campaign by Tyrone’s young handballing stars.
Firstly on Saturday evening, Tyrone’s Emer Kerr and Michaela McCartan had a terrific win in their replayed All Ireland 60×30 Girls Under 15 doubles championship semi final against Kilkenny in Garryhill, Carlow. The Tyrone girls trailed by 13-7 in the opening game but battled back with great tenacity to win 15-13 and followed up with a 15-3 win in the second game. That win set up four finals for Tyrone in the eight match programme at the Carlow venue on Sunday.
First up was the Girls Under 14 Doubles All Ireland Championship decider as Loughmacrory’s Caitlin Conway and Breacach’s Elizabeth McGarvey teamed up to challenge for their first All Ireland championship gold medals. The duo, who are both still eligible for the same grade in 2015, were up against a very highly regarded Clare partnership in Aoife Floyd and Briege Dinan and got off to a fantastic start by winning the opening game 15-10. A 15-2 defeat in the second left a major battle for the young Red Hand pairing but they showed remarkable composure in the third game to come back and win 15-8 and claim that illustrious first All Ireland championship crown.
Emer Kerr and Michaela McCartan, who had qualified for their final just the evening before, displayed excellent form in the Girls Under 15 Doubles Championship final. The Tyrone girls took on Tipperary’s Eimear Meagher and Sile Spain in the final and a superb opening game produced excellent passages of play from both young teams. In the end though the Tyrone girls really found their rhythm and carved out a brilliant 15-12, 15-2 victory to secure a second All Ireland championship for the O’Neill County on the day.
The third final of the finals day in Garryhill also featured Tyrone as Carrickmore’s Cormac Munroe and Loughmacrory’s Antoin Fox took to the court for the All Ireland 60×30 Under 14 doubles championship final. Cormac Munroe was bidding for a unique double in the grade, having won the 40×20 doubles crown with Darragh Canavan earlier in the season. The Tyrone lads certainly displayed impressive credentials in a superb semi final win against Kilkenny but they faced a very highly regarded young Tipperary partnership in John McGrath and Sean McAdams. A brilliant display of court play, power passing and finishing saw the Tyrone duo win the opening game 15-3 but when they saw a lead denied in the second game to lose 15-13 a major tie-break battle was then on the cards. The four young players provided a terrific final showdown and it was gratifying to see the tremendous character displayed in the end by Munroe and Fox as they pulled away at the end to win the game 15-7 and take the All Ireland honours to Tyrone.
That win made it a remarkable 100% record on the day for Tyrone’s juvenile handballers, with three All Ireland championship wins from as many finals to open the programme. The final match of the day involving Tyrone was the Under 17 doubles final and Breacach’s Jack Campbell and Aaron Owens were fancied to make it a quartet of titles on the day. They faced a strong Cork partnership in Shane Flynn and Daniel Monaghan but it was looking very good when the Tyrone lads won the opening game in emphatic style by 21-8. However, the match swung dramatically in favour of the Munster champions in the second game which they won by 21-5 and that set up another finals tie-break. It was a nip and tuck contest all through but in the end the Cork lads won the title with a 11-8 win in that game to deny a fourth All Ireland for Tyrone on the day.
Overall it was a fantastic conclusion to the ‘Big Alley’ championships for Tyrone and certainly continues to augur well for the future of the traditional 60×30 game in the O’Neill County. Colleges championships will come next in two week’s time before the action heads back into the 40×20 international court form November.
GAA Handball All Ireland 60×30 Juvenile Championship Finals 2014:
GU14D: Tyrone (Caitlin Conway/Elizabeth McGarvey) v Clare (Aoife Floyd/Bridin Dinan) 15-10, 2-15, 15-8
GU15D: Tyrone (Michaela McCartan/Emer Kerr) v Tipperary (Eimer Meagher/Sile Spain) 15-12, 15-2
BU14D: Tyrone (Antoin Fox/Cormac Munroe) v Tipperary (John McGrath/Sean McAdams) 15-3, 13-15, 15-7
BU17D: Cork (Shane Flynn/Daniel Moynihan) dft Tyrone (Aaron Owens/Jack Campbell) 21-8 5-21 & 11-8
McCrory reaches Ladies Open final at Golden Gloves Tournament
A host of Tyrone’s handballers competed in an early start to the new 40×20 season at the 27th Annual Golden Gloves Annual Handball Tournament. The prestigious event saw one of the strongest Mens Open fields assembled for quite a while and five Tyrone players contested the round of sixteen when the action kicked into gear on Saturday. Unfortunately, Tyrone players were off the pace on this first big endeavour as the big guns all powered to clear cut victories.
In the Ladies Open, sixteen year old Eilise McCrory made a remarkable breakthrough and her semi final win against club and county colleague, Maeve McElduff, certainly caught the eye. McCrory won her semi final meeting 21-11, 21-16 to set up an intriguing Ladies open final showdown with the World Senior Champion, Antrim’s Aisling Reilly. That proved a bridge too far for the gifted teenager who showed great quality at the Tournament before eventually losing out to the World number 1 by 21-4, 21-2.
Golden Gloves Mens Open Last 16 Results: Charlie Shanks (Armagh) dft Johnny Woods (Tyrone) 21-6, 21-8; Brendan Fleming (Cork) dft Conor McElduff (Tyrone) 21-14, 21-12; Killian Carroll (Cork) dft Gabhain McCrystal (Tyrone) 21-8, 21-4; Eoin Kennedy (Dublin) dft Shane O’Neill (Tyrone) 21-9, 21-1; Owen McKenna (Antrim) dft Niall Malone (Clare) 21-16, 21-11; Martin Mulkerrins (Galway) dft Darren Doherty (Monaghan) 21-6, 13-21, 11-1; Tony Healy (Cork) dft Darragh Daly (Tyrone) 21-8, 21-1
Golden Gloves Mens Open Quarter Finals: Charlie Shanks dft Brendan Fleming 21-17, 21-9; Killian Carroll dft Eoin Kennedy 21-19, 21-10; Martin Mulkerrins dft Owen McKenna 8-21, 21-19, 11-6; Diarmaid Nash dft Tony Healy 21-9, 21-20
Golden Gloves Mens Open Semi Finals: Diarmaid Nash dft Charlie Shanks 21-13, 19-21, 11-9; Killian Carroll dft Martin Mulkerrins 21-11 21-12
Golden Gloves Mens Open Final: Killian Carroll (Cork) dft Diarmaid Nash (Clare) 21-12, 21-13
Golden Gloves Ladies Open Semi Finals:Eilise McCrory (Tyrone) dft Maeve McElduff (Tyrone) 21-11, 21-16
Golden Gloves Ladies Open Final: Aisling Reilly (Antrim) dft Eilise McCrory (Tyrone) 21-4, 21-2
Australia One Wall Open success for Ruairi Kelly
While Tyrone GAA Handball were celebrating All Ireland 60×30 success in the Juvenile championship finals day in Carlow and a number of the county’s players were competing in the 40×20 Golden Gloves event in Belfast, Tyrone also celebrated another major title a bit farther away in the One Wall code of the sport. Breacach’s Ruairi Kelly has dominated the Australian Handball circuit over the past year and, following his Australia One Wall National Open Singles title win in 2013 and his Australia 40×20 Mens Open Singles and Doubles triumphs earlier this year, Ruairi has gone on to successfully defend his Australia One Wall Open title in Sydney at the weekend. His final win over Chris Doolin completed a clean sweep of honours in Australia for the gifted player to maintain his impressive list of national and international honours in the game.
Tyrone Juvenile Handballers excel on All Ireland 60×30 Finals stage