Collooney Handball Club Celebrate
19 May 2012
Historic day in the annals of the Collooney Handball Club as the sod is turned for the new 40 x 20 handball court, writes Michael McGee.
On Friday evening last the Collooney Club celebrated the official sod turning ceremony for its new 40 x 20 court handball court. In what seemed like the entire Collooney community turned out to celebrate with the handball club. Huge numbers attended. The TG4 camera crew were on hand to record the historic occasion. Earlier TG4 visited the Ocean FM studios in Collooney to record interviews with presenters Francis Boylan & David Murtagh ahead of their eagerly awaited one wall rematch. Danny Gallagher was the M.C. and he called upon Hugh McGarry Collooney Club Chairman to deliver the first speech in the 60 x 30 handball court. McGarry welcomed Fr. Pat Peyton P.P Collooney, Officials from the Connacht Handball Council, Connacht GAA Council, Sligo G.AA. Board, Sligo Handball Board, Chairman Sligo County Council, local public representatives, members from the local handball clubs, Owenmore Gaels, Chris Curran CEO GAA Handball, supporters, the Collooney community, local press & TG4. In a detailed speech McGarry was heartened by all the messages of support he received from Collooney people in America & England in recent days. The new 40 x 20 court would be built beside the 60 x 30 and McGarry hoped it would not take away from the traditional court. With the local Church of the Assumption Collooney it's spires overlooking the handball court McGarry said when the angelus bells ring out all handball play is stopped with the older players while the young players may not say their full prayers McGarry said amusingly. The Chairman refelected back to 1928 where the piece of ground on the fairgreen was kindly donated by the Cooper family from Markree Castle. The Collooney dramatics society was set up to raise the £100 to build the court. The first play raised £50 of the cost. In a long list McGarry named the players of the past from the 1920's right up to the present day who contributed and brought great honour and success to this historic club. He also mentioned "Ballymote's Francie Cawley, the great Francis McCann, Martin Golden, All-Ireland handball champion Marcus Henry who could pick a ball inches from the back wall and kill it inches from the front wall. But the greatest local player that McGarry had seen was Michael Porter R.I.P. the holder of 11 All-Ireland titles and 21 Connacht titles who passed away last December." McGarry then asked for a minutes silence for the deceased club members. Robert Walsh, Dermot Harte & Johnny Muldowney were thanked for their hard work in getting the court looking in pristine condition and duly received a great round of applause. Patricia McCann, Denise Mullen & Collette Gallagher were praised by McGarry for providing the refreshements and for their great community spirit to the club. McGarry explained funding comes from the weekly bingo every Thursday evening and members contribute to the club lotto. McGarry welcomed anyone who would be in a position to contribute to the lotto for a period of 6 months. The Chairman bemoaned the fact "the club don't have a 40 x 20 court of intercounty standards. It is simply not good enough our players have to leave the county. In a rousing finale McGarry used the famous line from a Barack Obama speech "Is feidir linn". If we stick together we will do it," enthused the Club Chairman.
Peter Chambers Sligo Handball Board Chairman then spoke. He opened his speech welcoming all in attendance saying "it was an historic and proud day for the Collooney club. Handball is the oldest game in Ireland and predates the G.A.A. with the first recorded game of handball in Ireland played in Galway in 1527. Handball has now become and international sport with the Irish bringing handball all over the world. Collooney has a rich and famous handball tradition and heritage which lives on in this club." Chambers also thanked Johnny Muldowney, Robert Walsh & Dermot Clarke for having the court in pristine condition. He thanked "the people of Collooney for their support down through the years and all the bingo players and encouraged them to continue their support over the summer months. The 40 x 20 court is essential to promote the game as the players need to compete at the highest level." Chambers is very confident "that within 18 months the club will be ready to go onwards and upwards. He asked for the support of the public representatives present to help the club securing Government sports funding to continue the project. The local media Sligo Champion, Sligo Weekender & Ocean FM were commended for their promotion of handball. TG4 were also thanked for helping handball giving it a huge profile." The County Handball Chairman also received a warm round of applause.
Cyril Feehily Sligo G.A.A Chairman then took the stage and pledged his continuing support for handball. He acknowledged the outstanding work being done by Chris Curran GAA Handball CEO. The GAA in Collooney has got a huge awakening according to Feehily. "Owenmore Gaels & Collooney Handball Clubs are progressive clubs. You want this and we need this given." He also asked the support of Politicians present to back the club in its fundraising drive. "So many people are involved in this community and despite these difficult times we can move forward in sport and education. Handball is known all over the world. In Sweden where it is played it means so much to them." Feehily is very enthusiastic with the Collooney handball project. Well done & every success ended the Co. GAA Chairman to great applause.
Boylan still Ocean FM Handball champion
With the speeches out of the way the stage was set for the Ocean FM handball rematch between Francis Boylan Leitrim & David Murtagh Sligo. Leitrim's Jamie Murray was the referee. In a fifteen minute match Boylan left off from the first match going into an 6-1 lead. The Sligo man was playing catch up all the time as Boylan maintained his lead. With the Sligo support fully behind the Sligo man Murtagh gave his all to get back into the contest. This he nearly achieved. After a comeback built on heart and purpose Murtagh mounted a great challenge. Twice he was within a whisker of the champion. At 18-17 the crowd on the edge of their seats extolling the Sligo man to seize the initiative. Murtagh was in a great position. However from somewhere Boylan summoned up untapped energy cracked into gear again with a five point blast. This time there was no fairytale riposte as Murtagh faded after an exhaustive comeback. The Sligo man bravely fought back with 3 points but it wasn't enough. Boylan was relieved when the referee finally called time and the Leitrim man survived by 23-20 to retain the Ocean FM champion trophy for 2012.
In the second of the one wall matches Thomas Healy defeated Johnny Banks by 26-19. The highlight of the evening the sod turning ceremony was performed by Maureen Mullen & Michael Flynn two people who have given outstanding service to Collooney organisations . The Collooney Handball Club were meticulous in their preparations and the committee of Hugh McGarry Chairman, Peter Chambers, Stanley Harte, Mick Kelly, Paddy Walsh, Peter Davey, Connell Cannon, Michael McGee, Shane Bruen, Michael McMorrow, Seamus Duffy & Brendan Carey can be justifiably pleased with their endeavours. In a lovely gesture by the club all around the walls was adorned with photos of past and present player's achievements. The dedicated handball committee with the support of the local community in Collooney and Sligo will have even bigger and better things to celebrate in the next couple of years. The historic founders in 1928 would have been very proud of this present generation knowing their lasting legacy they built upon is in such very good hands