Tyrone GAA handball eye Super 6 All Ireland Doubles Championship titles…
The achievements in the 40×20 court celebrated by Tyrone GAA Handball in 2013 were record breaking and what is remarkable is that the success story has become stronger and stronger with every ensuing campaign.
The O’Neill County handballers basked in the glory of another record breaking campaign in 2015 but what is astonishing is that in 2016 the previous feats have looked small in comparison – and we are only at April.
The Tyrone GAA Handball juvenile team picked up a record 20 provincial championship titles, reached seven All Ireland Finals and went on to secure 3 gold medals on the All Ireland Finals Day in Kingscourt. The Irish Junior 40×20 Nationals were staged in Galway last weekend and what transpired was another record for the Red Hand County as Tyrone captured four of the 8 Major Junior Nationals titles on offer.
Mairead Fox (Girls 13 & Under), Antoin Fox (Boys 15 & Under), Sean Kerr (Boys 17 & Under) and Johnny Woods (Boys 19 & Under) all collected on Junior Nationals Finals day and significantly provided a clean sweep for the Boys in the major grades there at 15, 17 and 19 – a first ever for the County and only the second time in the history of the event that such an accomplishment manifested.
In the Adult Singles 40×20 Championships, Tyrone dominated in Ulster and came away with an impressive All Ireland Minor and Intermediate Singles Championship gold with silver in the Under 21 and Junior grades.
This weekend will see Tyrone now go in search of an impressive 6 All Ireland Adult 40×20 Doubles Championship titles in Kilkenny and Carlow.
All are significant but the big one of the weekend is probably the All Ireland Intermediate Doubles Championship final, which comes second only to the Mens Open Doubles. Tyrone have captured this title on just one previous occasion when Niall Kerr and Darragh Daly teamed up to deny Kilkenny in the decider back in 2008. It is Kilkenny who once again stand in the way of Tyrone taking the honours as Johnny Woods and Conor McElduff team up against Ciaran Neary and Brendan Burke. On paper the Tyrone lads will be fancied in this one with McElduff having already won the All Ireland intermediate Singles Championship title and Woods having blitzed the Junior fields at 17 and 19 & Under in the past two seasons. However, the Kilkenny duo lost out in last year’s final and will be a tough one.
The All Ireland Minor doubles championship final will form the curtain-raiser to the Senior decider on Saturday at 4pm. Sean Kerr is also bidding to complete a clean sweep in the grade as he teams up with his club colleague, Turlough Clarke, in that final. Kerr was highly impressive in becoming just the fourth player from the county to secure the highly prestigious minor title and last weekend enhanced his claim with a brilliant Irish Nationals 17 & Under success. Sean’s partner Turlough actually lost out in the 2015 All Ireland under 16 doubles championship final and it is the victors from that game who will be in opposition in O’Loughlin’s, namely Cork’s Tadhg O’Neill and David Walsh. A cracking game in prospect and you can read a full preview here on GAAHandball.ie – Click Here
At Under 21 level, Tyrone will again see the long-time partnership of Gabhain McCrystall and Pol Clarke challenge for an All Ireland title. The duo lost out by 21-20 in the third game of the All Ireland Minor doubles three years ago and have since teamed up to collect two US Junior Nationals 19 & Under doubles titles. They take on a solid Cork partnership of Daniel Relihan and Michael Hedigan in what could prove to be one of the games of the weekend.
The Junior Doubles will again see Barry Devlin bidding to claim his gold medal in the 40×20 court. Having broke the deadlocked with a brilliant Junior campaign in the 60×30 court in 2015, Devlin lost by just a single ace in this year’s All Ireland Junior Singles Championship decider, 21-20 and now teams up with Carrickmore’s Ryan Daly. The duo have been a rock solid doubles pairing in the past couple of seasons and will undoubtedly be difficult to stop in their title bid but they must take on a Carlow partnership of Oliver Ryan and Daniel Fenlon in their home court in Carlow.
At Masters level Tyrone also hold strong claims of completing an All Ireland double on Friday night in O’Loughlin’s, Kilkenny. Seamus McCrory and Rory Grogan have struck up a formidable partnership in the Masters B Doubles grade and made it to the All Ireland final in 2014 also. They will be hoping to go one better this time around and will be hard to stop against a Dublin pairing of Ciaran McCallan and Christy Donnelly. This one is a bit unique though as Ciaran McCallan is actually a former Tyrone player and won the Tyrone Senior Singles Championship back in 1995 and 1996. He would have played with both Rory and Seamus over the years and it promises to be a great contest.
The Silver Masters B Doubles Championship final will once again see Tony McElduff and Mark McCartan team up again as they bid for the first All Ireland doubles success. The duo came through intense tie-break games both in Ulster and the All Ireland semi final and are a very solid partnership that could prove very difficult to deny. They take on a Wexford pairing of Ricky Barron and Phil Coleman and that could be hard to call.
Overall this looks set to be a big weekend again for Tyrone GAA handball. Playing in 6 All Ireland Adult doubles championship finals following two weeks of major success in singles and across the juvenile grades is another massive milestone for the O’Neill County. Tyrone are ultimately fancied in all 6 finals and hopes are high that such an incredible feat could be achieved!
Friday 22nd April 2016
O’Loughlin’s, Kilkenny (Court 1), 7pm
- GMBD: Galway (Brendan McNeela/Denis Phelan) v Wexford (Mick Armstrong/Mick Carty)
- Masters B Doubles: Tyrone (Seamus McCrory/Rory Grogan) v Dublin (Ciaran McCallan/Christy Donnelly)
- Silver Masters B Doubles: Tyrone (Mark McCartan/Tony McElduff) v Wexford (Ricky Barron/Phil Coleman)
Saturday 23rd April 2016
O’Loughlin’s, Kilkenny (Court 1), 10am
- Intermediate Doubles: Tyrone (Johnny Woods/Conor McElduff) v Kilkenny (Ciaran Neary/Brendan Burke)
- 4pm: Minor Doubles: Tyrone (Sean Kerr/Turlough Clarke) v Cork (Tadgh O’ Neill/David Walsh)
- 5pm: Mens Senior Doubles: Cavan (Paul Brady/Michael Finnegan) v Dublin (Eoin Kennedy/Carl Browne)
O’Loughlin’s, Kilkenny (Court 2), 10am
- LJD: Laois (Niamh Dunne/Ciara Dowling) v Clare (Ella Donnellan/Natasha Coughlan)
- LID: Galway (Sinead Ní Ainlí/Roisín Ní Chonghaile) v Clare (Louise Hayes/Annmarie Fitzgerald)
- Under 21 Doubles: Tyrone (Gabhain McCrystall/Pol Clarke) v Cork (Daniel Relihan/Michael Hedigan)
Tinryland, Carlow, 10.30am
- Junior Doubles: Tyrone (Barry Devlin/Ryan Daly) v Carlow (Oliver Ryan/Daniel Fenlon)
In Focus: Tyrone GAA Handball’s All Ireland Adult Doubles Championship Finalists…
All Ireland Intermediate Doubles Championship Final:
- Click Here to read the full People in Focus Profile with Conor McElduff
- Click Here to read the full People in Focus Profile with Johnny Woods
All Ireland Minor Doubles Championship Final:
Most Memorable Moment: winning the All Ireland schools final a few years back with Pauric Mullan
Favourite Handball Court: Breacach 40×20
Favourite handball shot: a kill in the right corner.. If it works out
Best ‘Player’ Played against & Seen: Best I’ve played has to be Sean Kerr! The best player I’ve watched is Brady, he makes everything look so effortless in the alley
Best ‘Shooter’ Played against & Seen: Best shooter I played against would probably be Tadhg O’Neill of Cork
3 Tyrone players to look out for in the future – Sean Kerr is definitely one, as in the past few years he’s been cleaning up everything. Same with Antoin Fox, but Lorcan McBride will definitely be up there especially after his game against Antoin in the Nationals at the weekend.
Thoughts on Tyrone handball: Tyrone handball is like this because the effort of all the players and coaches put in and the results show that!
All Ireland Under 21 Doubles Championship Final:
Most Memorable Moment: Winning the 19U 40×20 World Doubles Championship with Johnny Woods
Best court: Breacach or Gortnamona
Toughest match: Minor all Ireland doubles final 2012
Favourite shot: side wall kill
Best game ever seen: Brady/Finnegain VS Sheridan/Carroll in the All Ireland senior final in St Comans 2014
Best server to watch: Paul Brady
Best server to have played against: Matty “Alvarado” McCartan
Best player to have seen: Paul Brady
Best player I’ve played: Charlie Shanks
Best killer to watch: Armando Ortiz
Best killer to have play against: Colin Crehan
Best defensive player to have played against: Conor Anthony McElduff
Best defensive player to have watched: David Chapman
3 up and coming players: Sean Kerr, Antoin Fox and Lorcan McBride
Thoughts on Tyrone handball: It is in a very strong place and this is largely due to the effort and commitment which everyone puts in – both players and coaches.
All Ireland Junior Doubles Championship Final:
Favourite Handball Court: Gort na Mona, Belfast 1 or 2, either or!
Most Memorable Moment: Winning 60×30 All Ireland
Best match played in: v Darragh Daly in Tyrone Senior Singles Championship final 2013
Favourite handball shot: 2 wall pass
Best server to have (1) played – Robbie McCarthy, (2) watched – hasta be Paula Brady
Best defensive player to have played or watched: There aren’t many I’ve played but I suppose Conor McElduff has a good defensive game compared to most!
Best shooter of a ball to have (1) played – is Mickey Berry from Wexford! Serious fists in big court for rolling the ball! (2) Watched – Tom Sheridan is a great shooter in the big court and therefore my favourite!
3 Tyrone players to look out for in the future – Too many great young players to mention so I’m not going to just mention 3
Thoughts on Tyrone handball: The results over the past few years speak for themselves! Lets do this at the weekend boys!!!
All Ireland Masters B Doubles Championship Final:
Most Memorable Moment: Eilise getting on the Irish team after winning the Irish 40×20 Nationals in 2015.
Favourite court: Breacach 40×20
Favourite handball shot: back wall kill, or anything that hits the front wall.
Toughest game: Would be this year’s league final.
Favourite serve: Straight down the right wall.
Best server seen: Charly Shanks
Best player seen: Paul Brady
Best player played: Niall Kerr
Best ‘shooter’ of the ball: Killian Carroll
3 Tyrone players to look out for in the future – I couldn’t name 3 players for the future cause there is so much talent to pick from at the minute.
Thoughts on Tyrone handball: Handball in Tyrone is at a good place right now because of a lot of hard work and a lot of talented players.
Most memorable moment – I forget 🙂
Best court played in: Leixlip, Kildare
Best match played in: All Ireland Under 17 Doubles final, won a few years ago!
Favourite handball shot: The ‘Fluke’
Best game ever watched: The 2012 World Handball Mens Opens Singles Championship Final in Citywest
Best server to have (1) played: Ryan Daly and (2) watched: Charly Shanks
Best player to have (1) played: DJ Carey and (2) watched: Paul Brady
Best defensive player to have (1) played: Seamus McCrory and (2) watched: Tony Healy
3 Tyrone players to look out for in the future: Ruairi McCullagh of Loughmacrory, Shea Munroe of Carrickmore and Martin Coyle of Pomeroy.
Thoughts on Tyrone handball: Never been better!
All Ireland Silver Masters B Doubles Championship Final:
Most Memorable Moment: Marching down 5th Avenuein New York with Loughmacrory Band on St Patrick’s Day, 2016.
Favourite Handball Court: I like Breacach alley
Best match played in: probably Ulster semi this year – 2.5 hrs of clean hell
Favourite handball shot: kill shot – if it ever comes off.
Best match ever seen: Was first end of the Ulster Senior doubles semi final this year in Armagh. Conor and Shane O’Neill against Paul Brady and Michael Finnegan – first game was so close and the two boys gave the champs their fill of it.☺
Best shooter of a ball to have seen: Paul Brady – so cool and so calm.
3 Tyrone players to look out for in the future – Conor Mc Elduff goin for his 3rd Mens Open at the One Wall Nationals this year; Sean Kerr who is so cool and stylish and Anton Fox who is playing great ball along with a host of other juveniles in Tyrone at present.
Thoughts on Tyrone handball: Tyrone Gaa Handball is on fire at present but that only has happened because of all the time and effort put in through clubs and coaches .
“Tyrone Abu ☺ Good luck to all our doubles teams this weekend.. lets follow the footsteps of our juveniles.. Tyrone Abú”
Favourite Handball Court: Breacach 40×20
Most Memorable Moment: beating Shane O’Neill for a fiver a “few” years back?.
Toughest game played in: The 2000 All-Ireland Novice Club Final when, after 7 games up to 21 aces, New Ross from County Wexford beat us by a single point! …that hurt.
Best match ever seen: All Ireland Senior doubles 40×20 final 2013 when Paul Brady and Michael Finnegan beat Tom Sheridan and Brian Carroll, coming from game ball to 10 down and win in the third.
Best match ever played: against Ducksy!
Best match ever seen: Paul Brady.
Best Server of the ball ever seen: Charly Shanks
Best Shooter of the ball ever seen: Has to be Gabhain “Killshot” McCrystal.
3 Tyrone players to look out for in the future: Sean Kerr has it all. The 15 and under Irish Nationals final on Sunday past between Anton Fox and Lorcan McBride was as high quality a game as was played all year and, with so many young ones playing to such a high standard, the future looks very bright for Handball in the county.
Good luck everyone at the weekend – Tír Eoghain Abú.