People in Focus: Carrickmore’s Ryan Mullan celebrating “golden” era for Tyrone GAA Handball

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Tyrone GAA Handball has enjoyed considerable success in recent times although has always held a very strong tradition of winning titles at the highest level. The trend continues too in 2017 and as the 40×20 All Ireland Championship Finals festival this weekend brings the curtain down for the season in that respect, Tyrone are already reflecting on another prosperous campaign at National level.

Four All Ireland titles were secured in the singles (two) and Juvenile (two) All Ireland 40×20 Championships and the county have so far added another two All Ireland Doubles 40×20 Championships this weekend and they are two majors at that.

Ryan Mullan and Johnny Woods were impressive winners of the 2017 GAA Handball All Ireland 40×20 Under 21 doubles championship title

As Sean Kerr and Shane O’Neill teamed up to bring the second successive All Ireland Intermediate doubles championship title to the county (3rd in all) there was also an impressive All Ireland under 21 doubles championship triumph for Johnny Woods and Ryan Mullan.

That duo a teamed up three years ago to win the All Ireland Minor Doubles 40×20 and 60×30 championship titles and again looked rock solid all through the current campaign.

Sponsor: Carmen Building Supplies

For Ryan Mullan it has been another excellent season and many would agree in the O’Neill County that the unassuming Carrickmore clubman is one of the most improved players in the game in recent seasons. He was an eye-catching winner of the ulster under 21 singles championship this year and also made it to the All Ireland Senior Intervarsities decider in what has been a fine season. This latest success with Woods again signified their compatibility as a doubles unit and there could be much more to come down the line…

Click Here for Previous People in Focus Profile with Johnny Woods

Tyrone Life caught up with Ryan Mullan for the latest in our People in Focus Profiles series to get the lowdown on the continued success of Tyrone GAA Handball…

Winning the All Ireland Minor doubles championship title in 2014

Q&A with Ryan Mullan, Carrickmore

When did you start playing handball:  When I was about 8 years old.

Handball honours:

  • 60×30 U15 Doubles All Ireland
  • 40×20 and 60×30 U16 Doubles All Ireland
  • 40×20 and 60×30 Minor Doubles All Ireland
  • 40×20 U21 Ulster singles
  • 60×30 U21 singles and doubles all Ireland runner up
  • 60×30 interversaties singles runner up
  • 40×20 U21 doubles all Ireland runners up (2016) & Winner (2017)

Interests/Hobbies: GAA football

Sponsor: The Charm Inn, Carrickmore

GAA & Handball – My thoughts on…

Handball is a GAA sport but there are different codes – 40×20, One Wall and 60×30 – can you tell us your thoughts on these three codes of handball and how popular they are in Ireland and around the world?

40×20 is the most popular in Ireland followed by one wall, which is on the rise, especially with many schools putting up one wall courts, and then 60×30. I personally prefer the 40×20 code for its speed, quick reactions and shots. 40×20 and one-wall are also played internationally and provides the chance to travel to different countries for tournaments and to meet different people. 60×30 is only played in Ireland and is seen as the most traditional of the 3 codes. 40×20 is much faster paced game than 60×30 due to the smaller court and they both require different types of fitness – 40×20 is more about short sprints and agility whereas 60×30 is more about long distance running.

What are the significant GAA memories with your club or county that really stand out?

My best memory would be winning the minor All-Ireland doubles. Being able to represent the county on a big stage, in front of friends and family, and coming out as winners was a very proud moment.

Can you tell us a bit about the Carrickmore Handball Club, the early days, coaches involved and your playing colleagues…

I couldn’t have asked for a better handball club to grow up with and I’m proud to be part of it. It’s a successful club, with a history of different players winning all-Ireland and world championship medals and it continues to have strong youth coming through.

2008 Tyrone U12/13 All Ireland Winning Team of 6 (L to R): Gabhain McCrystall, Pol Clarke, Ronan McKay, Johnny Woods, Jerry Keenan and Ryan Mullan

My far back memories of training sessions with the various coaches through the years, the likes of Paddy Grogan, Joe Grogan, Paddy McCrory, Ryan Daly and my dad, have all been good memories, with each of them adding something different to my own game. I feel lucky to have had them and I’m thankful to them all. The club also had great players which I looked up to such as Darragh Daly and Padraic McGlinchey and I learned a lot from watching them play in the Tyrone championship.

Sponsor:: O’Kane’s Spar, Carrickmore

Tell us about Tyrone Handball. What makes it so competitive and what do you think the future holds?

Tyrone has had a lot of underage success for several years now and I think the future looks very bright. There’s no doubt Tyrone will soon have handballers competing for senior all-Irelands. There is also a fierce rivalry between the different clubs in Tyrone and I think it serves well, to an extent, in that we are all pushing each other on to get better and the standard is getting higher every year. Each year brings more and more provincial and all-Ireland titles to the county and this is credit to the players and the coaching.

There are a lot of exciting young handballers in the county at present. Tell us a bit about a few of those?

From my own club there is Lorcan McBride, who is a serious talent. He’s strong, smart and skillful and plays brilliant under pressure. There’s also Cormac Munroe who is a determined and dogged player, but also has good shot selection and is very calm.

What sort of training time do you put in for competing in the highest level of handball, some things you specifically do and how you prepare for big games?

In the middle of the handball season, I’d try get in 2 training matches per week and 2 sessions working on shots and consistency with both hands. In the run up to a big game, I’d just make sure to eat and sleep well and plan for the game.

Your 3 favourite things about the sport of Handball and 3 things that could enhance the profile of the game further

  • Travelling, meeting new people and winning.
  • TV Coverage, building alleys in more towns to make the sport more widely available

Life – My thoughts on…

Tell us a bit about where you are from and some of the things that your community would be well known for?

Carrickmore – well known for football.

Could you tell us what places you have travelled to – and best memories?

Arizona and Chicago for handball. France and Switzerland on holiday.

The handball holidays were the best – class craic with other handballers and competing on a big stage.

Ryan Mulan in action in the GAA Handball All Ireland Minor 40×20 doubles final in 2014

Favourites…

Best Handball Match as a player: this year’s U21 Ulster final

Best Handball Match viewed as a spectator: 2014 All Ireland senior doubles final-Brady and Finnegan vs Sheridan and Carroll. The rallies and the atmosphere at that game was unbelievable

Male Handballers: Paul Brady

Ladies Handballers: Aisling Reilly

Handball Jersey: Carrickmore handball club

Handball Shot: Reverse spin

Handball Court:
40×20 – Carrickmore
60×30 – Abbeylara
One Wall – Breaffy house hotel

Carrickmore Handball Club and Cumann Liathróid Láimhe Breacach Feile Teams who competed in the 2009 All Ireland Feile competition in Offaly

GAA Stars: Diarmuid Connolly, Conor McManus, Colm Cooper

Sportstars:  Anthony Joshua, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jose Mourinho

Band/Singer(s): Macklemore, Martin Garrix

Song(s): Cant hold us, Otherside

TV Show(s): Daredevil, Sherlock

Movie(s): Inception, The Dark Knight

2016 Tyrone GAA Handball 40×20 Senior Doubles Champions, Ryan Mullan and Darragh Daly

Item of clothing: handball gloves

Place (apart from home): Handball alley

Nightclub: Time, Cookstown

Sports Venue: Celtic Park

Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? Why? Facebook – funny videos

Best thing on the internet: Youtube

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