Top class lineup at Lough 1Wall Handball showdown
Amaro challenges Ireland’s best for Lough 1Wall Showdown Cup
Puerto Rican Wally Amaro, who is based in Philadelphia, is a magnificent one wall handball player who is renowned the world over for his contribution to the game, both on and off the court, and from this Thursday he will be displaying his world class talents in Loughmacrory right through until Sunday evening when the Lough One Wall Showdown reaches what promises to be a gripping climax.
Amaro will be spending some time coaching and spreading the word during his stay in the village but ultimately he is coming to try and get his hands on the mens open trophy that will be the top prize up for grabs in the three day tournament.
“I am very excited to be competing in such a great facility. It is what an athlete dreams off, playing in a venue that has been created around an athlete. The size, the space and getting the crowd involved will make this weekend a special one. I think this facility is like none other and clearly the time was taken to cater for the players as well as the spectators. After all what would an athlete be without a crowd watching the action from close up. All of our courts in the US are either indoor or outdoor, there is no in between while the Loughmacrory venue has the convenience of having a roof for shade but also gives an outdoor feel to it. Great design indeed. By it opening up in the rear also allows spectators to watch multiple games at one time which makes the experience even better. The space around and to the rear of the courts is superb, there is so much more space than we have here in the USA. I think that the players in the USA would love this facility. And the promotion is outstanding.”
While Amaro is excited to seeing the facilities on offer and the anticipated 1000+ crowd packed into the venue this weekend, he is also travelling to put in a big bid for glory in a quality field.
“I am all to familiar with all the great talent in Ireland. I am looking forward to be facing off with world class players. It’s an honour to be competing against them but I will be there to give my best in a great Tournament.”
And what a shootout the mens open event is guaranteed to be as not only will Loughmacrory get a chance to see one of the world’s best one wall players in action, there will also be some serious contenders from this country staking their claims for the honour.
Among them is Tyrone’s Conor McElduff who in a short space of time has shot to the number one ranking in Irish one wall handball circles following his memorable history-making success in the nationals last month.
Add in the outstanding talents of Cork’s brilliant young star Killian Carroll, one of the best players in all codes of world handball and recent winner of the Canadian Mens Open crown, and arguably the best retriever in the sport, along with brilliant Armagh pair Charly Shanks and Conall McCavitt, and the action is certain to be pulsating.
Shanks is a three time Irish National One Wall champion and a former number one on the American four wall circuit (40×20) and is capable of beating anybody in any code of handball, while McCavitt from South Armagh is still only a teenager with huge potential, as he showed two years ago when becoming world under-17 singles and doubles champion.
While the mens open is sure to draw the crowds to Loughmacrory, this is only one of 23 different grades, including 10 underage sections, which will involve a massive total of 248 competitors, resulting in 311 matches in all.
And many of the competitions will see some of the top players in the country taking part, with groups coming from counties such as Wexford, Tipperary, Louth and Cork, so this really is a true national event with an international flavour.
World’s best ladies
The Ladies Open will also see some of the greatest names in ladies handball battling it our for honours. Indeed when considering that there are four All Ireland Senior Singles champions and three world senior champions in the line-up, it is not difficult to see why this is possibly one of the toughest ladies open fields seen anywhere this year.
Antrim’s Aisling Reilly and Cork’s Catriona Casey are currently the two leading female exponents on the world 40×20 stage and their fantastic rivalry is becoming one of the big talking points in the sport, while Fiona Shannon is arguably the greatest female 40×20 handballer in history. The local interest in the ladies open will be provided by Loughmacrory’s Lisa McAleer and young Breacach star Maeve McElduff who is ready to challenge the top one wall players.
Among the underage stars coming to the Lough One all Showdown are the Kavanagh brothers from Wexford, Daniel and Josh, who have both made a big name for themselves on the national stage and will be aiming to win the boys under 11 and under 15 titles, while the Coleman sisters from the Clann Eireann club in Lurgan are multiple world champions and are always great to watch.
From a Tyrone perspective all the county’s recent Ulster and national winners will be taking part, including the irrepressible Sean Kerr who is expected to line out despite sustaining a nasty hand injury. Sean’s rivalry with Daniel Kavanagh could be renewed at the weekend in the boys 15 and under section and that would be a game worth watching.
Tyrone pair Niall Allison and Jack Campbell will be among the favourites for honours in the boys 17 and under grade, while the boys 13 and under competition could be one of the hottest grades of the weekend with the likes of Tyrone’s Lorcan McBride, Monaghan’s Eoghan McGinnity, Cork’s Cian O’Driscoll and Wexford’s Cian Kehoe battling it out with the Loughmacrory contingent, including Antoin Fox, Dara Curran, Shane Grimes and Ronan Curran.
Tyrone will also be well represented in the underage girls sections by the likes of Elizabeth McGarvey, Michaela McCartan, Caitlin Conway and recent national champion Mairead Fox.
Higher up the ladder there will be some great handball on show in the mens over 35 competition which will include the legendary Ducksy Walsh, the current national one wall champion at masters level, and Tyrone’s Niall Kerr, the reigning national silver masters champion, plus there will be plenty of locals involved in what looks to be one of the most competitive events over the weekend. All Ireland minor winning star Johnny Woods, who recently captured the One Wall Nationals 19 & Under crown, will this time go in search of glory in the Mens B Adult Singles event where Paddy McCrory will be among the chief challengers.
The presence of international star Wally Amaro will ensure that this is another unforgettable chapter in the club’s proud history.
Action in the event will actually get underway from 10am-12.30pm on Friday morning when Wally Amaro, Ducksy Walsh, Catriona Casey, Conor McElduff and Killian Carroll will be among a range of the stars providing coaching tips to children aged 7-12 at the first Kids Coaching Camp at the venue. Registration for this camp is at 9.30am on Friday morning.
The Tournament action will then begin at 2.30pm on Friday and will run through the entire weekend. The Mens Open semi finals will take centre stage from 7.50pm on Saturday evening before the event will climax with Ladies and Mens Open finals on Sunday at 6.30pm.
A big weekend of action on the courts is planned while on Saturday night in the Clubrooms Bar and Social Club there will be a great evening of entertainment while a special GAA Handball Mass will take place in Loughmacrory at 10am on Sunday morning before the action resumes.
Lough 1Wall Showdown Tournament:
Friday 15th August, from 2.30pm
Saturday 16th August, from 9.30am
Sunday 17th August, from 11.15am
Full draws have now been released and the complete schedule with times and courts will be available from Tuesday. Check out the club’s official website at www.loughmacrory.com for full details.