Carrickmore Teenager, Lorcan McBride, claims prestigious Ulster GAA Writers top prize for December

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QUINN Building Products UGAAWA MERIT AWARD For December 2016…

Carrickmore’s 15-year-old Lorcan McBride, a student at Omagh CBS, was spending his Christmas break in Tucson, Arizona, last month, and his terrific achievement of winning 3 gold medals at the USHA National Junior 4-Wall Handball Championships saw him awarded the highly prestigious Ulster GAA Writers Monthly Prize for December as a result.

“I was surprised and delighted when told by the organisers that I was the first person to win three gold medals at the Juniors,” said Lorcan.

Lorcan simply powered past his various USA opponents, netting three emphatic title wins in the process across three codes in small ball singles, big ball singles and 40×20 doubles. In his 16 competitive matches, at the US Junior Nationals, he never dropped a game, conceding just 34 aces, as he emerged one of the most convincing winners in the grade to date.

“With a December victory like that it was difficult to pass Lorcan for our Quinn Building Products December Merit Award. He did have opposition from Paddy Quigg, who starred with Kilrea in the Ulster Minor Football Tournament, Peter Harte (Tyrone) and Charlie Vernon (Armagh) who both impressed in the O’Fiaich Cup but McBride came through the debate.”

“I’m told that I am the youngest winner of this award and that is a great honour,” smiled Lorcan after being presented with his award by Seamus McMahon, Quinn Building Products Sales and Marketing Director.

“It was my first time to play in the US Juniors. I had high hopes of doing well but never expected to return home with three gold medals. I’m hoping that there will be many more medals to come.”

He has, of course, already tucked away three All-Ireland trophies with his next big event being the Ulster and All-Ireland U16 40×20 Championships in the coming months. McBride will be a strongly fancied contender to lay claim to that highly prestigious national title, having won the All Ireland Under 14 singles honours two years ago and finishing a very close runner-up in the Irish Nationals 15&U Singles grade last year, significantly that was against another highly impressive young Tyrone GAA Handball star, Loughmacrory’s Antoin Fox, who is also the player he has won 4 All Ireland Colleges doubles titles alongside.

The Omagh CBS fifth year student also plays football so with playing both codes and coaching for both, plus studying his free time is limited.

“It takes a lot of time management to keep handball, football and studies all going,” he reflected.

As his award, Lorcan receives an engraved Belleek Living Vase, training gear from O’Neill’s International Sports, specially engraved cuff links from Carlingford Design House and a medical kit bag from 3FiveTwo Communications on behalf of Kingsbridge Private Hospital, Belfast. He also gets two tickets to the UGAAWA annual awards presentation function on January 27, at the Four Seasons Hotel.

USHA Junior National Championships 2016, in Tucson, Arizona

Lorcan McBride defeated Calgary’s Carter Rakochey in impressive fashion to secure the Big Ball 15&U crown and then powered past last years 13&U US Nationals champion, Ray Ure (Illinois), by 21-5, 21-3 in the final of the 40×20 Junior Nationals 15&U grade to collect the honours there too – the first win in that event by an Irish player since 2011.

Teaming up then with Waterford’s Michael Kiely, Lorcan added the 15&U doubles crown with a 21-7, 21-4 win over Ray Ure & David Sanchez (Illinois) in the final. To cap a memorable trip, Lorcan was then awarded the ‘Best Newcomer Award’ at the USHA Nationals dinner, this being his first visit to the US Junior Nationals Championships.

 

Lorcan is of course joining a most distinguished list of top class Irish handballers who have made a successful excursion to the US for the December US Junior Nationals. This has seen some of the very best to have played the game take honours and the hugely talented McBride bridged a 5 year gap since Ireland last took the honours in the 15&U grade and a 27 year gap since a Tyrone player last took those honours in December.

The last Irish player to win the 15&U title at the prestigious December US Junior Nationals was Clare Handball’s Colin Corbett in 2011. Previous Irish winners include Monaghan Handball’s Darren Doherty (2010), Denis O’Neill of Cork GAA Handball (2009), Killian Carroll (Cork) in 2008, Meath Handball’s Gary McConnell (2006), Westmeath Robbie McCarthy #TEAMEDTL (2001 & 2002), Cavan handball’s Pat Finnegan (1997), Kilkenny GAA Handball’s Timmy Clifford (1995), Dublin’s Eoin Kennedy in 1994, Carlow’s Kenneth Kane (1993), Roscommon Handball’s Michael McHale (1991), Cavan’s Michael Finnegan (1990), Ciaran Curran (Tyrone) in 1989, Louth’s Peter McAuley in 1984, Limerick handball’s Eamon O’Neill (1982) and won for the first time by an Irish player when the late great Ducksy Walsh (Kilkenny) took the honours in 1981.

Caolan Daly is the only previous Carrickmore player to win at the US Junior Nationals, having won 2 titles at the event – the US 17&U Nationals in 2008 and also adding the US Junior Nationals 19&U in 2010. #Tyrone

Loughmacrory GAA Handball’s Ciaran Curran is the last Tyrone player to win the 15&U title at the prestigious December USHA Junior Nationals when the event only had Small Ball 40×20 Singles competitions at the US Nationals. That was Curran’s first of a previously unprecedented four in a row at the US Juniors by an Irish player, winning the 15&U (1989), 17&U (1990 & 1991) and 19&U (1992). It is thus 27 years since Tyrone last claimed this title which McBride bids for in Tucson in 2016.

Loughmacrory’s Antoin Fox did claim a 15&U National event in June 2016 which is played as part of the US Adult Nationals, while also collecting the 17&U title in that same Tournament. Fox also claimed the Boys 13&U Nationals crown at the December US Junior Nationals in 2014.

Cumann Liathróid Láimhe Breacach has enjoyed considerable success at the US Junior Nationals in recent times and while no Tyrone player has won the 15&U title since 1989, there have been big wins at 17&U and 19&U for Seán Sean Kerr, Johnny Woods, Pól Clarke and Gabhain Mccrystall, the latter uniquely becoming just the second Irish player ever to win back to back US 19&U titles in 2014 and again in 2015. Sean Kerr won the 17&U Nationals title last December, in 2015.

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