Collooney Handball club celebrate start of new handball court
10 May 2012
Collooney Handball Court
The Collooney handball club will officially turn the sod for the start of its new handball facility on Friday May 18th writes, Michael McGee.
The project will include a new 40 x 20 court, upgrading the existing 60 x 30 court and an outdoor one wall court. The Club has been in existence since 1928. The then Chairman Alfie Higgins a signal man on the Midland Railway and WP McElroy and Secretary approached the land owners the Cooper Family of Markree Castle who kindly donated a plot of ground on the Fairgreen. The Collooney dramatic club was formed to raise funds to build the alley. The sum of £100 was agreed with Messers, Gilhawley & Taylor from Enniscrone who were employed to do the work. Dances & plays were run by the local dramatic society in the old Camphill School. The first play raised £50. The first meeting regarding the alley was actually held outdoors on the footpath outside Cullen's licensed premises. At the official opening in 1928 Joe & Paddy Bergin who had local connections and were residing in Tipperary played Jim Hunt & Eddie Perry from Sligo. Others who played included Joe Lane, Guard Cunnion from Ballintogher, Jim & Mickey O'Rourke from Ballisodare.
Over the years changes have taken place extending the side wall and erection of a low back wall. Many of the players associated with the club are now prominent GAA county stars. Mickey Noone played on Sligo's first ever Connacht Championship winning side in 1928. Mick Jennings, Georgie Higgins, Jack Brennan & Sonny Weir also played with Collooney. The Clifford brothers Paddy, Francie & Vincent played with Sligo in the 1940's and 1950's. Paddy & Vincent Brennan, Ansulum Doyle, Sonny Hennessy, Fintan Quigley, Kevin Darcy, Padraig Lang, Michael McTiernan and of course the Walsh brothers Dessie, Paddy & Raphael. The legendary Paddy Walsh the holder of 28 All-Ireland handball titles received a special achievement award at the annual GAA Handball presentations in 2010. Other players associated with the club include Michael & Aidan Flynn, Tony Grey, Jimmy Brown, Johnny Brown of Ballisodare, the O'Rourkes of Ballisodare, the Nairn's of Ballisodare, the great John Joe Lane, Tom Collery, Freddie Irwin, Sonny Weir, Jim Bonner, Gerry Connelly, John Kehoe, John & Michael Mannion, Paddy Callaghan, Jimmy Scanlon & Mick McDonagh.
The present crop of stars include Shane Bruen, Paddy Walsh, Vincent McKeon, Hugh McGarry, Connell Cannon, Mick Kelly, Peter Davey, John McLoughlin, Ken Cunningham, Pat O' Sullivan, Seamus Duffy, Stanley Harte, Michael McGee, Sean Coen, Mick McMorrow & Peter Chambers all have won numerous Connacht & All-Ireland handball titles.
In 1996/97 the height of the walls was extended to 27ft and the installing a new floor. Dressing rooms were added in 1999.The old galvanised roof was replaced in 2001 with a modern roof. With the added facilities Collooney hosted many Connacht handball championships matches and a number of All-Ireland semi-finals & finals. There was a number of fundraising adventurers including bed pushes, sponsored cycles, Queen of Tirerrill Beauty Competition, weekly draws and "give us a clue competition." Hugh McGarry and Committee sat down in January of last year with plans for the new handball complex unveiled. The meeting was attended by Cyril Feehily Sligo G.A.A Chairman, Fr. Pat Peyton Collooney P.P. representatives from the local sporting clubs and Sligo Handball Officials and supporters. Fundraising includes a weekly lotto and bingo in the Collooney Hall each Thursday. Three years ago the Collooney Handball Club generously received a cheque for $2,000 dollars from Andy Healy, President of the Boston Sligo Association Healy who is a native of Strandhill. Healy went to Summerhill College Sligo in 1965 before emigrating to Boston. The club are at present applying for Government sports funding. The present committee of Hugh McGarry, Stanley Harte, Shane Bruen, Michael McMorrow, Seamus Duffy, Mick Kelly, Paddy Walsh, Peter Chambers, Peter Davey, Michael McGee, Connell Cannon & Brendan Carey are working extremely hard on this project. There is a great sporting community spirit in Collooney with the award winning Owenmore Gaels G.A.A. pitch opened last October and the recent developed modern playground on the fairgreen.
The celebrations will begin with a TG4 camera crew visiting the Ocean FM's radio station at 1 p.m.for interviews with Francis Boylan & David Murtagh co-presenters on the popular "Lazy afternoon show." Just seven weeks ago Boylan, a Manorhamilton native representing Leitrim defeated David Murtagh in the Sligo colours by 15-9, 15-12 in an exciting contest. The re-match looks set to be equally exciting. After the interviews TG4 will travel to Tubbercurry from 2 - 4 p.m. to film students from the Holy Family N.S. Recently Ballymote native John Cawley a teacher in the school set up a handball club in the school with amazing results. The pupils are being coached by an International Athletics champion & a treble All-Ireland handball champion in Padraig Maye. After interviews and coaching the cameras will return to Collooney for the official sod turning at 6 p.m. Local G.A.A stalwarts Michael Flynn & Maureen Mullin who have given outstanding service to the local community organisations will have the honour of turning the first sod on the club's new handball court. Maureen Mullin was treasurer of the St. Feichin's Community Games from 1973-1998 and Treasurer of the Teeling Centre for the past 26 years. Michael Flynn was handball trustee back in the 1970's.Following the sod turning ceremony the eagerly awaited rematch between Ocean FM's Francis Boylan v David Murtagh will take place which is sure to get the large Sligo faithful fully behind Murtagh as the attempts to win the Ocean FM handball champion trophy for 2012 at his second attempt. There is also a celebrity challenge between well known locals Johnny Banks Teeling Centre Manager and Tomas Healy. The match will be refereed by Chairman of the Owenmore Gaels G.A.A. Club Martin Cannon. Refreshments will be provided. The afternoon's handball highlights in Sligo will be shown on the TG4 Handball Show later in the year.