Carrickmore Handball club host the annual Paddy Grogan Memorial tournament this Saturday where some of Ireland’s top players will compete for one of the most prestigious juveniles events on the calendar.
The tournament commemorates former club member Paddy Grogan, who played a pivotal role in developing the club’s current batch of Irish and World titleholders.
A unique format sees the top juvenile players in the country in both boys and girls come together to play in a team of four event, with matches decided on an aggregate basis.
The format comprises of something new to most of the players, and has often led to several big shocks as some players can quicker adapt.
This year the line up is immense as among the 24 players includes seven of the eight winners and runners up of the four blue ribbon All-Ireland Finals of this year; U14 (Boys and Girls), U16 and U18. Tyrone’s Johnny Woods has had a sensational year thus far, winning the slam of All-Ireland Minor Singles and Doubles, and the 17 and Under Junior Nationals.
In each of these finals he has met a rising star from Clare, Fergal Coughlan Jnr. Coughlan who will be out for revenge, and will be hoping he has the skills to adapt accordingly to the new format.
Another Tyrone star, Sean Kerr is the top juvenile, possibly in world Handball right now in his age bracket, but he has a number of fierce competitors vying for his crown. Wexford’s Daniel Kavanagh, and Tipperary trio of Jason English, Colin Ryan and Jerome Cahill will all be quietly confident of causing an upset.
Top of the billing in the U14 section is Inis Mor’s Peter Donohue, who last month became the first player from the island to win a national title. Donohue has grown into a very physically strong and dominant player for his age. The local clubs trio of Cormac Munroe, Lorcan McBride and Darragh Canavan will all prove difficult to beat on their home court, with McBride pushing Donohue to an 11-8 tiebreaker in the Junior Nationals.
Irish Handball is currently witnessing a boom of girls talent at present, and the competitors in the U14 Girls section is evident of this.
Clare’s All-Ireland U14 Champion Bridin Dinane is particularly impressive, however she was pushed close in a tiebreaker by Limerick’s Catriona Millane in the Munster final.
Armagh’s Dearbhla coleman, fresh from her U13 Nationals win, alongside Carrickmore’s beaten All-Ireland finalist Ciara Mullan will be among a few others capable of an upset on their day.
The weekend promises to be a fantastic festival of Handball, that seems fitting for the club who are coinciding the tournament with their 25th anniversary celebrations taking place in The Patrician on Saturday night.
This promises to be a wonderful occasion attracting many dignitaries including the President of the Irish Handball Council, Willie Roach, Chairman of Ulster Handball, Seán Clarke and the National Manager of handball, John Kelly. With the standard of handball going to be at the highest in Irish juvenile Handball, all spectators are welcome, with admission free of charge on both days.
Itinerary for Weekend Celebrations:
Saturday 3rd May
10.30am- Carrickmore Alley- Teams announced
11am-5:30pm- Carrickmore Alley- Breachach (Beragh) Alley Games
6.30pm- St Colmcille’s Church- 25th Celebration Mass
8.30pm- Patrician 25th Night of Celebration Buffet and Music by Bleeding Cowboys
Sunday 4th May
10am Carrickmore Alley 1st semi-final
11.30am Carrickmore Alley 2nd semi-final
1am Carrickmore Alley U12 Final
2pm Carrickmore Alley Final