Handball: Spartans defeated by UCC

Sperrin Spartans on the attack against UCC at the weekend
Sperrin Spartans on the attack against UCC at the weekend

The Sperrin Spartans, travelled to Phibblestown, Dublin on Saturday to take on last season’s Irish Olympic Handball Association Cup runners-up University College Cork.

The Spartans are still adapting to playing at Senior League level and were looking for an encouraging performance against an experienced, multi-national team.

The Mid-Ulster side started slowly as Cork ran up an early lead, hitting the Spartans on the break launching long passes to the wings and looked like running away the game.

The Spartans hit back before the break, getting a foothold in the game and pegging back the Cork side to within striking distance.

Sperrin improved as the game went on, slowing down the opposition’s scoring rate and weighing in with some great goals of their own. Winger Jamie O’Neill opened their account, with pivot Philip Cassidy contributing four goals and Blaine Swann with two more for his side.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, the Cork side’s experience showed as they closed the game out in the last 10 minutes for a convincing 31-11 win. It was an encouraging performance none the less for the inexperienced side who travelled south missing 3 players including their first choice goalkeeper.

Left Wing turned Goalkeeper Matthew McErlain made his competitive debut between the posts making numerous saves to keep the side in touch while the team put in an improved performance in attack.

The Spartans will be looking to keep progressing next month as they take on Belfast Olympic Handball Club in Lisburn on 11th January in a Northern Irish derby game.

Most of the team only started playing the game in February this year and are always looking for new members to play a fast paced physical sport that is mainland Europe’s second most popular team game.

The Spartans currently train on Wednesdays 8-10pm at Greenvale Leisure Centre, Magherafelt.

Match day squad - Matthew McErlain, Marek Kluka, Philip Cassidy, Nathan Swann, Niall O’Neill, Blaine Swann, Patrick Cullen, Jamie O’Neill, Aaron Swann and Nathan Swann.