Tyrone GAA Handball Star, CONOR McELDUFF is new Euro No1 as 6 Tyrone players eye All Star Awards

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Conor McElduff has become the first Irish GAA Handballer ever to become the number 1 player in Europe’s professional European Wallball Tour (One Wall Handball). 

The Cumann Liathróid Láimhe Breacach clubman secured the Spanish Open title last month, claimed runner-up to World no 1 Timothy Gonzalez (USA) in the Belgium Open and last week went on to claim the 2017 Dutch Open crown.

The Men’s Open final win over UK Wallball’s Luke Thomson by 21-10 saw the Irish Open & All Ireland Senior Champion move to the Number 1 ranking spot on the european circuit, which encompasses the best players from nine European countries.

Conor McElduff has swept the board in the Wallball code of GAA Handball not just in Ireland but now in Europe too.

McElduff has been the dominant force in Wallball action in Ireland since first winning the Irish Nationals crown in 2014 and of course continues in his build-up towards a possible tilt at the World Championship crown in Minnesota, USA, in August 2018.

“Having missed the latter half of 2016 due to ill health, my goal was ultimately to get back playing this year and attempt to defend my Irish Nationals crown. Winning the Irish Nationals open title in Breaffy back in July was amazing and then of course to win my first ever All Ireland Senior championship title, which was a first for Tyrone too, was the icing on the cake in mid-summer.”

“I have enjoyed a great period recently in the sport and winning the likes of the Lough Wallball Showdown before going on to claim highly prestigious titles such as the Spanish and Dutch Open have really marked this down as my best ever year in the sport. I lost out in the Belgium Open Final but that was possibly the biggest test ever in my career, so far, against the USA and World number 1, Timothy Gonzales. It gave me a good idea of where my game is at though and my big challenge will be the Worlds in 2017. Prior to that I will travel to London for the UK Wallball Nationals in February and then of course the defence of a number of majors in the build-up to August 2018”.

Tyrone GAA Handball’s 6 Nominees at the 2017 Teamtalkmag Tyrone GAA All-Star Awards…

Meanwhile the 2017 Teamtalkmag Tyrone GAA Handball All-Star Award Winners will be announced at this weekend’s prestigious annual Gala Banquet in the Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran.

Six Tyrone handballers will be up for awards in the “Handballer of the Year” and “Young Handballer of the Year” categories with the list as follows…

Lorcan McBride…
Lorcan became only the 4th Tyrone player in history to capture the blue riband All Ireland juvenile championship title in 2017. The Carrickmore dual star defeated Wexford’s Josh Kavanagh in the 40×20  under 16 singles decider , which turned out to be one of the most epic matches of the entire year. He also reached another major final at the Irish junior nationals (40×20) in Galway and added an All Ireland colleges doubles title in the colours of Omagh CBS. Lorcan topped off a sensational year with multiple success in the US nationals.

Lorcan McBride became the 4th Tyrone GAA Handballer to win the All Ireland Under 16 Singles championship title in the 40×20 court

Caitlin Conway…
Caitlin finally achieved the All Ireland glory she deserved in the 40×20 court when she claimed the under 16 doubles title  with a brilliant win over Kilkenny in the All Ireland final. She lifted her first major national singles title at the Irish wallball nationals in July and then rounded off a brilliant juvenile career with another All Ireland under 16 doubles title in the 60×30 championships.

Caitlin Conway and Elizabeth McGarvey completed an Under 16 All Ireland Championship doubles double in the 40×20 and 60×30 in 2017

Elizabeth McGarvey…
Elizabeth was one half of Tyrone’s most successful doubles team in 2017 and actually formed the most successful doubles partnership in Juvenile handball throughout Ireland alongside Caitlin Conway. The Breacach star completed a famous double success at under 16 level, defeating Kilkenny in both the 40×20 and 60×30 national deciders.

Sean Kerr…
Sean left the minor grade 12 months ago as one of  Tyrone’s most successful ever underage handballers and his rise through the ranks has continued in 2017.  Last year’s young player of the year has quickly established himself at the next level. After claiming the All Ireland 40×20 intermediate doubles title earlier in the year alongside Shane O’Neill, he collected the prestigious 19 and under title at the Irish one wall nationals and reached the same stage at the 40×20 nationals. Sean ended another superb year with an All Ireland under 21 doubles championship medal, partnering Ryan Mullan to a famous win over Kilkenny. Sean’s US triumphs at 19 and under level were the icing on the cake for the mercurial teenager.

2017 GAA Handball All Ireland Under 21 Doubles Champions, Ryan Mullan and Sean Kerr, pictured with All Ireland Senior Doubles Champion, Meath’s Tom Sheridan

Ryan Mullan…
Ryan Mullan has been one of the best young players that Tyrone has produced and the Carrickmore star signed off at under 21 level in 2017 with three All Ireland championship final appearances. After winning the Ulster under 21 singles title, Ryan then partnered Johnny Woods  to All Ireland 40×20 glory in the doubles. He then starred again at under 21 level in the 60×30 court, reaching the All Ireland singles final and winning the doubles impressively alongside Sean Kerr. That means he can boast the unique feat of winning All Ireland doubles titles in both codes at every level from under 15 to under 21.

Conor McElduff…
Conor had already established himself as the best one wall player that Tyrone had ever produced but an illness left his participation in doubt for 2017. Not only did he bounce back in sensational fashion, Conor has now become the best one wall handballer that Ireland has ever seen after cleaning up in the Irish wallball nationals and All Ireland championships and then heading off to Europe and lifting the Spanish and Dutch Open titles, as well as reaching the Belgian Open final where he only lost to world number one Timbo Gonzalez.

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