The launch of the new £1m + Development Project in Loughmacrory in June 2014 sparked a series of major events at the mid Tyrone venue and in August last year the inaugural Lough 1Wall GAA Handball Showdown attracted over 250 handballers from all over Ireland and indeed Puerto Rico.
World Handball champion, Wally Amaro travelled to the first event and claimed the Mens Open crown following a fantastic final against Irish Mens Open National Champion, Conor McElduff, while Cork’s brilliant record breaking young star, Catriona Casey, came away with the first Ladies Open title.
Less than twelve months on and the 2nd annual Lough 1Wall Showdown will take centre stage at the venue in the weekend ahead (Friday 17th to Sunday 19th July). The new date has been necessary due to the mass exodus of some 250 Irish handballers to the eagerly anticipated World Handball Championships in Calgary (Canada) this August. Many of those players will be in attendance and competing for prestigious titles ahead of their World championship excursion and, with some 1,500 spectators having packed around the venue last term, another bumper weekend of exciting action can be anticipated at the venue again over the course of the three-day Tournament in 2015.
Beacach’s Conor McElduff and Cork’s Catriona Casey will again travel to compete in the event as the recently crowned Mens and Ladies Irish Open One Wall National champions and of course they will represent Team Ireland in those grades at the upcoming World Handball Championships. The other Team Ireland one wall reps, 19 & Under champions Darren Doherty (Monaghan), Ciana Ní Churraoin (Galway) and Maeve McElduff (Tyrone) will also compete in the respective Open grades at this weekend’s Lough 1Wall Showdown Tournament in what is overall proving to be hugely competitive events.
Almost 250 players will again compete across the grades from Under 10 up to Diamond Masters (55+) with the drop down system in all grades providing guaranteed two or three games for all players who attend. But what will really be of note is that the venue will be prepared for a packed spectator viewing beside the Lough in what is undoubtedly a terrific atmosphere overall.
McElduff and Casey to defend Showdown open crowns…
That Mens Open will have the 2014 Mens Open National finalists, Conor McElduff and Darragh Daly with former champion and recent Nationals semi-finalist, Armagh’s James Doyle also in the fray. Kildare’s Niall O’Connor, Monaghan’s Darren Doherty, Longford brothers, Darren and Niall Flynn, Galway’s Peter Daveron and Down’s Sean Digney will lead the charge against a very strong Tyrone challenge headed up of course by Mens Open champion, McElduff, and Daly. Add in Johnny Woods, Gabhain McCrystall, Paddy McCrory, Pol Clarke and Barry Devlin and all in all it makes for an exciting competitive weekend of action in the blue ribband grade.
McElduff endured a tough defence of his One Wall Nationals Mens Open crown in Castlebar and had to defy injury to deny Galway’s brilliantly versatile player, Martin Mulkerrins, in the nationals decider. A record crowd witnessed a superb match in Breaffy and McElduff is now looking to maintain his excellent form at his local venue ahead of a World Championship title bid.
“The Lough Showdown in 2014 was a truly outstanding spectacle. To be playing Wally Amaro in front of over 1,000 spectators at Loughmacrory was something you could only have dreamed off growing up and playing the sport. It is now very much a reality though and I know everyone is really looking forward to another top class event at the Lough One Wall Arena. I lost out in the final last year so I am still eager to pick up my first Open title there and plan to be very much ready for that challenge. The Worlds are just around the corner at this stage so you can expect a big challenge from a host of players who will be there in the weekend ahead” commented McElduff.
Catriona Casey won the Ladies Open at the Lough Showdown in 2014 and recently booked her Team Ireland place with a thrilling Ladies Open Nationals final win over Down’s three-time national champion, Lorraine Havern. That duo will again fill the top two seedings places and will be put to the test by Team Ireland 19 & Under stars, Galway’s Ciana Ní Churraoin and Tyrone’s Maeve McElduff. Add in the fact that three times World senior champion, Fiona Shannon and former All Ireland senior champion, Sibeal Gallagher, will be in the mix and it makes for another cracking renewal of the Ladies Open showdown.
Brilliant line-up in the Boys 17 & under singles event…
One of the most competitive events of the entire weekend will undoubtedly be the Boys 17 & Under Singles competition. With Breacach’s Sean Kerr among the favourites to collect the honours there and Jack Campbell having again impressed at the Irish One Wall Nationals, Tyrone do go in with a major shout. Clare’s Fergal Coughlan makes the trip though and he went close to securing the 19 & under nationals crown under two weeks ago in Breaffy while Cork’s hugely exciting talent, Tadhg O’Neill, who won the 17 & Under nationals crown, also makes the long journey to Loughmacrory. There are 16 players overall in a hugely competitive 17s field and Louth’s Ben Devlin, Down’s Michael Havern, Cork’s David Walsh and Padraig O’Driscoll can also be expected to be in the shake-up of what promises to be one of the most talked about grades of the weekend.
There are a major number of grades down for decision over the weekend and of course there will be the likes of handball legend, Kilkenny’s Ducksy Walsh, also in action in the Masters code. The record breaking 38 times All Ireland senior champion will be out to maintain his unbeaten record in the code and will be a hot favourite to do so, but will again have to deliver his best to collect another top honour.
Overall the weekend fun and games will start at 3.00pm on Thursday with a GAA Handball Kids Coaching Camp for boys and girls aged 6 up to 11 on Thursday 16th July in the One Wall Arena. In addition to a list of coaches who will be providing a host of tips and games on the day there will be a number of special guest appearances. Tournament action will then commence from Friday evening with everything expected to climax on the Sunday with all the major finals. The club have also planned considerable hospitality over the course of the weekend and the local GAA Clubrooms adjoining the Arena, is sure to provide a great night of entertainment in the weekend ahead too.
TV cameras are planned to be there on the Saturday evening and plans are afoot for an exciting announcement already as the club even looks ahead to the 2016 Showdown in the Lough.
The full schedule for the entire weekend will be released on Tuesday evening and the Loughmacrory GAA Handball Club have now put the full draws for all grades live on the link below…By tyronepro Tue 14th Jul