The Irish One-wall Nationals 2005 Report Courtesy of Michael McGee -
Sligo Handball Board organised the ninth Annual National One Wall Championships, which took place on July 2/3rd last. Four venues were used Teeling Centre in Collooney, Collooney 60 x 30 court, Ballymote and Sligo Institute of Technology. There was over one hundred entrys in thirteen grades ranging from Boys/Girls U-14 right up to Diamond Masters. There was a great family involvement in finals over the weekend the Mc Carthy family from Mullingar had plenty to shout about when Robbie Senior took the Masters title and has now set a record of five National One Wall titles, Robbie Junior had a good win over Padraig McGlinchey of Carrickmore Tyrone in the Boys U-18 final while sister Aoife McCarthy was a little unlucky to lose in the Girls U-14 final to Aimee Corrigan of Roscommon. James Doyle and Mairead Riabhaigh O’Duill both reached the Men’s and Ladies Open Finals. Chris Doolin had a great contest with Darren Flynn from Longford before winning the B decider. Leona Doolin fought hard throughout but had to settle for runner-up spot in the Girls U-16 decider in the day’s only tiebreaker match. Niall Flynn, Darren’s brother secured the Men’s C title at the expense of Cormac Smyth from the Castlebridge Club in Wexford. There was some fantastic handball on show in the Sligo Institute of Technology on the Saturday qualifying games. Caolin Daly Carrickmore Handball Club in Tyrone and Ian McLoughlin from Newport in Co. Mayo gave eye-catching performances and would meet in the Boys U-14 final on the following day. Cormac Smyth and Darren Flynn both came through tough matches in the Men’s C competition to qualify for the final. Collooney was the venue for the finals and the first final to be played was the Girls U-14 between Aoife McCarthy Westmeath and Aimee Corrigan Mayo. The Roscommon girl took the first game by 15-6. In game two Aoife McCarthy had a good lead of 10-5 but double faults on two occasions in quick succession didn’t help as Corrigan fought back to be only 10-9 behind. McCarthy regained the initiative and was serving for the second game at 14-9. Corrigan another of John Gaffney’s young stars did not give up, managed to draw level at 14-14, and took the title when McCarthy’s return went over the left sideline to win by the narrow margain of 15-14. Tom Walsh before the presentations took place on his first visit to Sligo for the One Wall finals was greatly impressed and said it is a unique competition with one wall the original game of handball and that the game goes back to the past in a modern way. He congratulated the Girls U-14’s for a great display. The President Complimented John McLoughlin and Connell Cannon and all the Committee for the organization and doing a great job over the past seven years that Sligo have hosted the Championships.
Flying Flynn takes Men’s C final
Next on the programme was the Men’s C final between Darren Flynn from the Abbeylara Club in Longford and Cormac Smyth from Castlebridge in Wexford. Smyth was the slight favourite as he had a proven record winning Minor 60 x 30, Irish Nationals and American Championships. At 6-6, it was delicately poised. Flynn served deep to Smyth’s left hand and the Castlebridge man was not accurate in his return. It was frantic action played throughout this contest and very energy sapping. Flynn had great overhand power in his serves and returns and gave Smyth much to think about. Flynn forced the pace and a number of quick scores from the Abbeylara man seen him take the first game by 15-7. Flynn opened up Smyth in the second going into an 8-1 lead. Smyth knew he was in a battle and had to play his best handball over the weekend to stay in contention. This he did as he narrowed Flynn’s lead to 8-5. Flynn slipped when going for a ball but still somehow managed to kill the ball from a Smyth return for 9-5. Flynn’s overhand was his strongest asset as he pounded the ball with great power. He got an ace with an overhand serve that just got over the short line for a lead of 12-5. Flynn served out for the championships and won it as Smyth’s attempted kill dropped short. It was the first National title for the Abbeylara Club at Adult level.
Caolin Daly and Ian McLoughlin met in the Boy’s Under 14 final. It was a great exhibition from players at such a young age displaying such fantastic skills in the art of One Wall Handball. Game one between the two young stars was very even. At 12-12, it was anybody’s game but Daly forced McLoughlin to shoot wide of target for the last three points to win by the narrow margain of 15-12. In the second game, Daly had a good lead of 11-4. McLoughlin fought back with three points. Daly got into serve and got three points himself to be serving for the match at 14-7. McLoughlin fought hard to stay in the final and managed to get another three scores but it was to be Daly’s day yet again with a passing shot down McLoughlin’s left side. Caolin Daly has now won three One Wall titles at U-14 level.
It was an all St. Coman’s Roscommon final in the Girls U-16 decider between clubmates Marianne Rushe and Leona Doolin. Rushe took the first game by 15-4. In game two, it looked all over for Doolin as he fell behind by 10-1 but somehow forced an amazing comeback against all the odds. With great belief, she staged a remarkable recovery. At 14-14, Doolin missed her first chance to win the game and Rushe missed an opportunity when her kill attempt dropped short. Doolin brought the game to a tiebreaker when she forced Rushe to dive for a ball but she was not able to return. Rushe gained the momentum leading by 6-2. Doolin tried hard to keep in touch at 9-6 behind but Rushe got the two points to secure victory by 11-6.
Conor Grogan from Carrickmore was up against Paddy Reavey from Armagh. Reavey was wearing the Basque handball shirt given to him by his coach James Doyle. Grogan was in brilliant form in game one and Reavey simply was not able to cope with Grogan’s style of play. It proved all too easy for Grogan as he kept his opponent scoreless in game one. Reavey got the first two points in game two but luck was not on his side as on two occasions the ball came back and hit him. Grogan was very determined to win this year after losing last years U-14 final to Daly. Reavy tried very hard but Grogan was that bit better on the day and came through by 15-5 in the second game.
Fidelma O’ Reilly from Limerick and last years runner-up Mairead Riabhaigh O’ Duill met in the ladies final. O Reilly went 6-2 into the lead early in early on. O’ Duill replied with two points. O’ Duill, getting great support from her husband James could not keep with O’ Reilly. The Limerick Lady looking impressive as she won the first game by 15-4. At 7-7 in the second O’ Reilly hit for home and left O’ Duill in her wake. With a number of passing shots, passing O’Duill who could not react quick enough to return them O’ Reilly won her first Ladies One Wall title in impressive fashion by 15-7. Speaking to me afterwards Fidelma was really thrilled with her win. She has been training since last October. She was disappointed to be left out of the 40 x 20 championships in an error and felt she had something to prove. Out of handball for fourteen years, she made a winning debut in One Wall. A native of Kingscourt she is now teaching in Limerick.
Robbie McCarthy Junior who is having another great year in handball was up against Padraig McGlinchey from Carrickmore in the Boys U-18 final. Scores were level at three, seven, and nine in game one when McCarthy got the decisive breaks. McCarthy played very impressively as he had to. McGlinchey is a fine exponent of one wall and we will see much more from these players in the years ahead. McGlinchey could not add to his tally as McCarthy finished the stronger to win by 15-9. McCarthy with a narrow 6-4 lead in the second got a nice score on right side of court after McGlinchey did extremely well twice to keep ball in play. McGlinchey was being moved all over the court by the experienced Mullingar man. McCarthy built up an 11-5 lead. McGlinchey managed to get one further score as the Westmeath man won the final with a volley on the right side to win by 15-6.
Doolin wins match of the day in B final
In the Men’s B, final Chris Doolin from St. Coma’s Roscommon faced Darren Flynn from the Abbeylara Club in Longford. This was a terrific contest between two very fine players and was played at a high tempo throughout. At 5-5 in the first game Doolin extended his lead to three. Flynn fought back with a brilliant ace just over the short line in which Doolin did not even get time to move. Flynn put a high return over the end line for a two-point lead to Doolin. Flynn with a side arm kill on his right hand left only one point in it at 9-8. Both players exchanged points and then Doolin had a slender two-point advantage. Doolin was forced into a weak return on his right hand and Flynn drew level at 11-11 with a peach of an ace that landed right at the back line that even Doolin could only admire and he even clapped Flynn for winning this fine point. Doolin just had that little more extra quality that is needed in tight games. At 13-13 the Roscommon man got the two important points to take the first game by 15-13. Doolin kept the pressure on in game two going 9-2 up but Flynn has great battling qualitys and got back to within touching distance of Doolin at 9-7 behind. Doolin played strong handball at this stage and went into a commanding 13-7 lead. Flynn was not helped when he double faulted on his serve two foot faults picked up by referee Richard Willoughby. Flynn refused to give in and brought the fight to the Roscommon man. At 14-8 behind the Abbeylara man threw everything into it to get back on parity and came within a whisker of bringing the final to a tiebreaker. Flynn managed to save one game ball but Doolin finished it as Flynn missed a return on right side of court.
King wins fourth Senior One Wall Nationals
Last match was the senior final between David King from Carlow and James Doyle from Armagh. King looked very strong in the first game and went into a 5-0 lead. A nice spin service deceived King for Doyle first score. Doyle’s accuracy was telling against him and he was not helped when he fell down awkwardly on his right arm. He gingerly picked himself up and grimaced in a lot of pain. King had a nice kill point for point number eight and added another one soon after. Doyle got back into serve and another spin service gained the Armagh man a score. A strong right hand return by Doyle into the right had him 10-3 behind. King kept the ball in Doyle’s left corner and gained a number of points this way. King with two volleys into the left corner finished the first game by 15-5. Doyle left the court to get his right arm bandaged up. Doyle’s injury greatly affected him, as he could not put in those power strokes he is well capable off. After getting two early scores in the second game, Doyle could not build on it to a great extent. King was quite superb and kept the scores mounting up. He controlled the centre and with kills, volleys and angled winning scores. King won his fourth senior title with a kill in the centre. Tom Walsh made the presentations and King in his victory speech thanked the Sligo Handball Board for hosting the championships for the past seven years. King admitted it was not a great final due to Doyle’s injury as he knew Doyle is capable of far greater things. The week before the One Wall Nationals, the duo met in Kingscourt for training and it finished three games each. King finished by adding he would like to see the One Wall keep going and getting bigger and better each year. I caught up with the new champion shortly afterwards and he told me he put in more practise this year than last and it showed as he was a lot fitter. King was pleased with how the first game went and expected Doyle to come back in the second. From early in the second he knew he had a great chance of winning. King said he was delighted and thrilled to win this year after not performing last year. King was very gracious in thanking the Sligo Handball Board in hosting the championships for seven years in a row and thanked all the players who entered. King thanked Colm Jordan who ironically does not play One Wall but helps David in training back in Carlow. King acknowledged that he and James Doyle are very good friends and train a lot together as he cant get games like that in Carlow. In other finals in the Girls U-18 Karen Lawlor from Tralee bt Lisa Falvey from Ballymacelligott by 15-5, 15-6. Robbie McCarthy Senior has now won a record five National One Wall titles when he accounted for Sligo man Francis McCann by 15-10, 15-3 in the Masters. Peter Larkin took the Golden Masters with a 15-6, 15-4 win over Galway’s Tony McInerney while Nicki Clancy won the Diamond Masters over Peter Mulryan.