Tyrone GAA Handball have secured a most remarkable record haul of success at the USA Junior National Championships in Los Angeles over the Christmas period. The five day event concluded on New Year’s Even and saw Tyrone come away with an unprecedented title haul of 9 wins, a figure unmatched by any county in the history of the event. Indeed the record haul previously achieved by Ireland was 11 title wins back in 2010.
In an era when Ireland are now dominating the international game of handball and in aperiodic when a record number of countries (33 worldwide) and competitors are contesting major international events, the fact that Tyrone can now celebrate such a level of success is a phenomenal way to bring the curtain down on 2013. Breachach club in particular can reflect on without question the best year ever in the sport by a club as they collected five US National title wins in LA to add to an amazing series of All Ireland wins in a host of grades all through the year. Gabhain McCrystall certainly grabbed all the headlines in the US as he outgunned California’s Anthony Collado by 11-6 in the toe-break of the final of the US Nationals 19 & Under Singles Championship, the blue ribband competition of the entire event and from a highly regarded starting field of 22 players from around the globe. In securing this title he becomes only the third player from Tyrone to have ever won this major honour, following on from Ciaran Curran (Loughmacrory) who defeated Naty Alvarado in the 1993 final and Caolan Daly (Carrickmore) who denied Stephen Cooney in the 2011 final. For good measure he then added the US 19 & Under doubles crown to his singles triumph after teaming up with long-time partner, Pól Clarke, to defeat Anthony Collado & Tyler Martin (USA) by 21-20, 21-18 in the final match of the 2013 event.
Following her best ever year on the courts, Breacach’s Eilise McCrory secured the US Nationals Girls 15 & Under crown following impressive victories over Marisol Maldonado (Arizona), Maxine Strausbaugh (California) and Rugile Kasperiunaite (Illinois). The recently named Tyrone Young GAA Player of the year then brought further glory to her club as she emerged a hugely impressive winner in the Girls 19 & Under doubles championship.
Loughmacrory’s Antoin Fox, on his first foray to the USA event, completed a fantastic double as he defeated Briant Mendiola in the final of the Boys 13 & Under Singles Championship, from a starting field of 25 of the best young players from four countries competing, 21-5, 21-7. He had earlier come through a very competitive field to capture the One Wall Big Ball title in the same grade, denying Edwin Laredo (California) in the final, 11-6 in the tie-break. Loughmacrory’s Mairead Fox was the first winner of a title at the 2013 USHA National Junior Championships in Los Cabaleros. Mairead captured the Girls 11 & Under Singles title in four-wall small ball and then followed up by claiming the 11 & Under Big Ball title, defeating four boys in the grade before claiming the honours with an impressive final win. Mairead also reached the final in the Girls 13 & Under championship, a full grade above her age-group.
There was a double final heartbreak at the championships for recent Tyrone Premier league runner-up, Johnny Woods as he fell to highly regarded San Francisco star, Coleman McGrath by 21-18, 21-9 in the final of the massively competitive Boys 17 & Under Singles Championship. Woods then made his way through to the final of the doubles championship in the same grade along with partner Sean Kerr, but they lost out to Luis Bustos & Anthony Sullivan by 21-8, 9-21, 11-6 in that decider. Sean Kerr was also a very unlucky loser in the quarter-final stages of the Boys 15 & Under singles championships, losing to Anthony Sullivan 11-10 in the tie-break.
Overall a phenomenal return by Tyrone players at the 2013 US National Championships with an incredible 9 title wins and 4 runners-up slots, as follows:
Tyrone’s USHA National Junior Champions 2013
Gabhain McCrystal (Breacach) – USHA Nationals Boys 19 & Under Singles Champion, US Nationals Boys 19 & Under Doubles Champion
Pól Clarke (Breacach) – USHA Nationals Boys 19 & Under Doubles Champion
Eilise McCrory (Breacach) – USHA Nationals Girls 15 & Under Singles Champion, US Nationals Girls 19 & Under Doubles Champion
Antoin Fox (Loughmacrory) – USHA Nationals Boys 13 & Under Singles Champion, US Nationals Boys 13 & Under Big Ball Champion
Mairead Fox (Loughmacrory) – USHA Nationals 11 & Under Singles Champion, US Nationals 11 & Under Big Ball Champion
Runners-up at the event included:
Johnny Woods (Breacach) – USHA Nationals Boys 17 & Under Singles Runner-Up, US Nationals Boys 17 & Under Doubles Runner-Up
Sean Kerr (Breacach) – US Nationals Boys 17 & Under Doubles Runner-Up
Mairead Fox (Loughmacrory) – USHA Nationals Girls 13 & Under Singles Runner-Up