Fantastic showcase of GAA Handball at action packed Lough Showdown
Irish Nationals Champions claim Open titles at action packed Lough GAA Handball Showdown
A fantastic showcase of the very best in GAA Handball was viewed by huge crowds at the annual 2017 Lough Wallball Showdown in Loughmacrory at the weekend.
With 227 of the best players in Ireland, from 19 different counties, and 293 matches played over a massive weekend programme from Friday to Sunday, it is not difficult to see why this has established itself as one of the best “100% Volunteer Run” Events in the Country.
The Adman Men’s and Ladies Open finals took centre stage on Saturday night for the first time and provided a wonderful social occasion for the massive crowd which packed into Loughmacrory’s impressive covered One Wall arena. The rain outside did little to dampen a splendid atmosphere in which the four players involved served up two of the best finals seen in the sport anywhere this year.
The Ladies Open Final was first on the card and saw 2016 champion, Armagh’s Megan McCann, bid to retain the title she won last season. At just 17 years of age she faced the brilliant recent Irish Nationals Open Champion and Limerick’s Martina McMahon really has excelled in the national and international stage in recent times.
This was a game laced with incredible pinpoint power serving down the lines, highest quality power passing and some fantastic long range kill shots. Ultimately there was little to separate the top class duo throughout and they were deadlocked at 20-20 after a series of blistering and enthralling rallies. In the end though it was the immense experience of the Irish Nationals Champion to direct some superb offensive play in the closing exchanges to close out the match and the title on a 25-22 score line.
The packed crowd was buzzing from such a fantastic Ladies Open Final and within minutes of the ensuing Men’s Open decider it was clear that a ‘GAA Handball Classic’ was on the cards.
Armagh’s Charly Shanks had lost narrowly to Tyrone’s Conor McElduff in the recent Irish Nationals Men’s Open Final in Castlebar and set his stall out very quickly in the rematch at the Lough Showdown.
Shanks’ low hard serving was of a truly exceptional quality when the final got underway and he consistently followed up with awesome pass and kill shots. His incredible start did not relent either for some time and when he opened up a 15-3 advantage the massive crowd looked on in amazement as the Tyrone star faced defeat for the first time in over 12 months. What was still significant though, even in that dominant Shanks spell, was the fact the Irish Nationals and All Ireland Senior Wallball Champion was chasing down and retrieving almost everything that was being fired at him. As the relentless rallies began eating into the Armagh player’s energy reserves, McElduff was beginning to find his own rhythm and range. And so began the remarkable comeback.
An astonishing lob to the back corner, a 35 foot cross court roll-out, an 80mph straight pass down the right line were just some of the astonishing winning shots delivered as McElduff closed the gap to 12-20. And then came the onslaught. McElduff in the remaining minutes of play showed just why he has become the best that Ireland has seen in a One Wall Court. An exceptional controlled delivery of shots followed and the Breacach clubman racked up 13 consecutive points to secure a second Lough Showdown title on a 25-20 score line.
There is no doubt that everyone was treated to a spectacular double of finals action on Saturday night and it brought the crowd in their droves again throughout Sunday’s full programme of action.
Most of the highlights came in a series of brilliant Junior ties throughout the finals day…
The Boys Under 10 and 11&U titles went the way of Carrickmore’s Shea Munroe and Loughmacrory’s Eoin Donaghy respectively. Munroe had a terrific win against last year’s winner, Galway’s Gavin Kelly while Eoin Donaghy showed amazing form to deny Monaghan’s Seán Callan and Louth’s Jack Devlin in the 11s final.
The Boys 13&U final brought some of the best handball of the entire weekend from two of the most exciting young players in the game. Kilkenny’s Kyle Jordan secured his second successive Showdown title with a 22-15 win against Galway’s Mikey Kelly. The latter was most unlucky though as he had gone over on his ankle at 15-17 and eventually had to retire at the end.
In the Boys 15&U Grade, Galway’s Jason O’Toole claimed his 3rd Showdown title in a row as he edged out Loughmacrory’s Dara Curran in a thrilling contest by 18-14. Galway’s Peter Donohue then followed that up by taking the Boys 17&U title also to Inis Mor, in what was his first trip to the Tournament, with a fantastic 25-10 win against Cork’s Cian O’Driscoll.
In the Girls Junior grades, the host club picked up both the Under 10 and 11&U titles following some terrific games. Aine Curran won a thrilling Under 10 final against Greencastle’s Caislean Treacy by 25-24 and Laura Duff took the 11&U title with a final win against Tara Curran, having a great match with Kilkenny’s Katie Jordan in the semi final.
Clare’s Chloe Philpott emerged a very impressive winner of the Girls 13&U title when denying Tyrones Clodagh Munroe in an excellent final while Armagh’s Caioliosa Ní Dhuill secured the Girls 15&U honours with a 23-12 win against Antrim’s Carragh Shannon in the final.
Across the Adult grades there was also some terrific games over the weekend. There were Adult title wins in the A grades for Antrim, Tyrone, Cork, Kildare and Down.
Cork’s David Walsh had an eye-catching win over Louth’s Ben Devlin in the Men’s A while the Men’s B title went to Antrim’s Jordan O’Neill. Antrim also took the honours in the Masters A Singles as Paul Graham defeated Tyrone’s Eamon McCrory by 22-17. The host club’s Chris Curran won the Silver Masters A with a final win over Monaghan’s Paul Cassidy, the latter having defeated Irish Nationals Champion, Niall Kerr in the semi final. The Men’s C Singles and Men’s Challenger titles went to Cork with Gearoid O’Connell and Brooklyn Hickey taking those titles. Down’s Anthony Cowan defeated Tyrone’s Barry Fox to secure the Men’s Contender title for 2017.
In the Ladies A grade, Kildare teenager, Leah Doyle, defeated Antrim’s Fiona Shannon in the final while Loughmacrory’s Clare Conway picked up the Ladies B title with a final win over Carragh Shannon. Breacach’s Cloideach Donaghy got the better of Down’s Mary Havern to win the Ladies C and Down’s Michelle McCoy won her first Showdown title with a final win against Tyrone’s Laura Tuohey.
Overall this proved to be another fantastic spectacle and the host club will continue their special year celebrations in November with the launch of their book “150 Years of GAA Handball and Counting”.
Results: Lough GAA Handball Showdown 2017
Men’s Open Final: Conor McElduff (Tyrone) dft Charly Shanks (Armagh) 25-20
Men’s Open SF: Conor McElduff (Tyrone) dft James Doyle (Armagh) 25-2
Men’s Open SF: Charly Shanks (Armagh) dft Sean Kerr (Tyrone) 24-14
Ladies Open Final: Martina McMahon (Limerick) dft Megan McCann (Arm) 25-22
Ladies Open SF: Martina McMahon (Limerick) dft Leah Doyle (Kildare) 25-11
Ladies Open SF: Megan McCann (Arm) dft Fiona Shannon (Antrim) 25-13
Men’s A Final: David Walsh (Cork) dft Ben Devlin (Louth) 25-12
Men’s B Final: Jordan O’Neill (Antrim) dft Mark Rainey (Antrim) 21-8
Men’s B SF: Mark Rainey (Antrim) dft Pol Donnelly (Tyrone) 21-13
Men’s B SF: Jordan O’Neill (Antrim) dft Conor Duff (Tyrone) 23-10
Masters A Final: Paul Graham (Antrim) dft Eamonn McCrory (Tyr) 22-17
Masters A SF: Paul Graham (Antrim) dft Colm Turley (Down)
Masters A SF: Eamonn McCrory (Tyr) dft Barrie McCoy (Down)
Silver Masters A Final: Chris Curran (Tyrone) dft Paul Cassidy (Monaghan) 24-16
Silver Masters A SF: Chris Curran (Tyrone) dft Fergal Coughlan (Clare) 25-7
Silver Masters A SF: Paul Cassidy (Monaghan) dft Niall Kerr (Tyrone) 19-13
Men’s C Final: Gearoid O’Connell (Cork) dft Dermot Boyle (Mon) 25-4
Men’s Challenger Final: Brooklyn Hickey (Cork) dft Sean McCrory (Tyrone) 25-11
Men’s Challenger SF: Brooklyn Hickey (Cork) dft Niall Toner (Tyr) 25-2
Men’s Challenger SF: Seán McCrory (Tyrone) dft Barney McAleer (Tyrone) 23-15
Ladies A Final: Leah Doyle (Kildare) dft Fiona Shannon (Antrim) 23-15
Ladies B Final: Clare Conway (Tyrone) dft Carragh Shannon (Antrim) 22-14
Ladies C Final: Cloideach Donaghy (Tyrone) dft Mary Havern (Down) 18-16
Ladies Challenger Final: Michelle McCoy (Down) dft Laura Tuohey (Tyrone) 22-8
Ladies Challenger SF: Laura Tuohey (Tyrone) dft Catherine Kelly (Tyrone) 22-11
Ladies Challenger SF: Michelle McCoy (Down) dft Eilish Owens (Tyrone) 24-11
Boys U10 A Final: Shea Munroe (Tyrone) dft Gavin Kelly (Galway) 25-18
Boys U10 A SF: Shea Munroe (Tyr) dft Sean Kennedy (Tyr) 25-16
Boys U10 A SF: Gavin Kelly (Gal) dft Matthew Coughlan (Clare) 25-11
Boys 11&U A Final: Eoin Donaghy (Tyr) dft Jack Devlin Murtagh (Louth) 25-10
Boys 11&U A SF: Eoin Donaghy (Tyr) dft Sean Callan (Mon) 21-15
Boys 11&U A SF: Jack Devlin Murtagh (Louth) dft Fergal Magee (Mon) 14-13
Boys 13&U A Final: Kyle Jordan (Kilkenny) dft Mikey Kelly (Galway) 22-15
Boys 13&U A SF: Mikey Kelly (Gal) dft Fiachra O Dhuill (Arm) 22-8
Boys 13&U A SF: Kyle Jordan (Kilkenny) dft Stephen Kelly
Boys 15&U A Final: Jason O’Toole (Galway) dft Dara Curran (Tyrone) 18-14
Boys 15&U A SF: Dara Curran (Tyrone) dft Cahir Munroe (Tyrone) 19-17
Boys 15&U A SF: Jason O’Toole (Galway) dft Conan McElholm (Tyrone) 25-10
Boys 17&U A Final: Peter Donohue (Galway) dft Cian O’Driscoll (Cork) 25-9
Boys 17&U A SF: Peter Donohue (Galway) dft Conor Walsh (Cork) 23-10
Boys 17&U A SF: Cian O’Driscoll (Cork) dft Fionn Cusack (Roscommon) 20-10
Girls U10 A Final: Aine Curran (Tyrone) dft Caislin Tracey (Tyrone) 25-24
Girls U10A SF: Caislin Tracey (Tyrone) dft Lucy McCullagh (Tyrone) 14-11
Girls U10A SF: Aine Curran (Tyrone) dft Clare O’Hagan (Armagh) 25-8
Girls 11&U A Final: Laura Duff (Tyrone) dft Tara Curran (Tyrone) 24-9
Girls 11&U A SF: Laura Duff (Tyr) dft Katie Jordan (Kilkenny) 25-22
Girls 11&U A SF: Tara Curran (Tyrone) dft Meabh Gallagher (Antrim) 18-12
Girls 13&U A Final: Chloe Philpott (Clare) dft Clodagh Munroe (Tyrone) 25-10
Girls 15&U A SF: Chloe Philpott (Clare) dft Carragh Kennedy (Roscommon) 25-6
Girls 13&U A SF: Clodagh Munroe (Tyrone) dft Emma Kinane (Galway) 25-14
Girls 15&U A Final: Caoiliosa Ni Dhuill (Armagh) dft Carragh Shannon (Antrim) 23-10
Girls 15&U A SF: Cailiosa Ni Dhuill (Armagh) dft Ellie Jane Quinn (Tyr) 24-4
Girls 15&U A SF: Carragh Shannon (Antrim) dft Sarah Devlin (Tyrone) 17-8
Boys U10B Final: Niall Kelly (Galway) dft Caolan Grimes (Tyrone) 25-16
Boys U10 B SF: Niall Kelly (Galway) dft Corey McGaughey (Tyr) 25-10
Boys U10 B SF: Caolan Grimes (Tyr) dft Pearse McDonald (Tyr) 25-23
Boys 11&U B Final: Ruairi McCullagh (Tyr) dft Tomas Duff (Tyr) 25-15
Boys 11&U B SF: Tomas Duff (Tyrone) dft Padraig McDonald(Tyrone) 25-7
Boys 11&U B SF: Ruairi McCullagh (Tyrone) dft Padraig Fox (Tyrone) 23-22
Boys 13&U B Final: Gary McAleer (Tyr) dft Ciaran McNally (Tyr) 25-5.
Boys 13&U B SF: Ciaran McNally (Tyr) dft Eoin McElholm (Tyr) 22-13
Boys 13&U B SF: Gary McAleer (Tyr) dft Noah Burke (Kilkenny) 24-3
Boys 15&U B Final: Conor Keeley (Louth) dft Zak Devine (Tyrone) 19-15
Boys 15&U B SF: Conor Keeley (Louth) dft Cian O’Donnell (Roscommon) 24-9
Boys 15&U B SF: Zak Devine (Tyrone) dft Philip Doran (Down) 13-11
Boys 17&U B Final: Dáire Savage (Down) dft Dárragh Tumelty (Down)
Boys 17&U B SF: Dáire Savage (Down) dft Cillian O’Reilly (Cavan)
Boys 17&U B SF: Dárragh Tumelty (Down) dft Jack Turley (Down)
Girls U10B Final: Lucy McCullagh (Tyrone) dft Clare O’Hagan (Armagh) 25-7
Girls 11&U B Final: Meabh Gallagher (Antrim) dft Cara McCrory (Tyrone) 25-6
Girls 13&U B Final: Carragh Kennedy (Roscommon) dft Caoimhe McElduff (Tyrone) 24-3
Girls 13&U B SF: Carragh Kennedy (Roscommon) dft Katie Donohue (Galway) 25-8
Girls 13&U B SF: Caoimhe McElduff (Tyrone) dft Niamh Curran (Tyrone) 25-15
Girls 15&U B Final: Sarah Devlin (Tyrone) dft Ellie Jane Quinn (Tyrone) 20-12
Masters B Final: Seán Devine (Antrim) dft Billy Caddell (Louth) 13-12
Masters B SF: Seán Devine (Antrim) dft Conal Curran (Tyrone)
Masters B SF: Billy Caddell (Louth) dft Martin Toner (Tyrone)
Silver Masters B Final: George Miller (Mayo) dft Pat Murphy (Limerick) 18-16
Silver Masters B SF: Pat Murphy (Limerick) dft Eddie McCavitt (Armagh) 20-15
Silver Masters B SF: George Miller (Mayo) dft Brian Havern (Down) 21-13
Men’s Contender Final: Anthony Cowan (Down) dft Barry Fox (Tyrone) 18-15
Men’s Contender SF: Anthony Cowan (Down) dft John White (Down) 22-13
Men’s Contender SF: Barry Fox (Tyrone) dft Padraig McGeough (Monaghan) 15-8
Ladies Contender Final: Eilish Owens (Tyr) dft Catherine Kelly (Tyr) 25-14
#showdown2017 #wallball #gaahandball #tyronegaa