Wicklow handballers off to USA
ALMOST 270 Irish handballers will travel to the World Handball Championships in Portland, Oregon this week, with a large number of Wicklow handballers among them.
Players from the Coolboy, Arklow and Bray clubs will travel to the west coast of America, and hopes are high that some will return home with silverware.
With grades from Under-11 to Over-80, and ten countries taking part in the event, there is great excitement ahead of the Championships.
Coolboy’s Shauna Hilley will travel as part of the official Irish squad, having sealed her place are the Irish Nationals last May.
‘It’s a great honour to represent your country and I’m really looking forward to the Worlds,’ said Hilley, who takes part in the 19 and Under Girls event.
‘There is going to be some really tough competition, but that’s where you want to be - in the heat of the action.’
The Irish squad has undergone an intense training programme in recent months, and was presented to the crowd at half-time in the Kerry v. Cork All-Ireland Senior Football Final at Croke Park recently.
‘I’ve put in a lot of effort over the past few months and hopefully things will go right for me in Portland,’ said Hilley, a student at Tralee IT.
‘There’s a big crew traveling from Wicklow and I’m sure we’ll have something to celebrate when we return.’
Shauna received a Sports Scholarship from Tralee IT, where she recently started her first year in Sports Management, but she is putting the books down for a few weeks and her attention now turns to Portland.
The 18-strong squad will spend a number of days in the City of Roses trying to acclimatize to the US courts ahead of the 4 October start date.
It will be incredible to see under-11 players, such as title prospect, Daniel Curry from Coolboy, play in a court alongside one where former Irish Handball President, Tom Walsh, will take part in the Over-70s. The Bray Emmets clubman will be hoping to push the top American Masters players, and young and old could be celebrating together.
‘The World Championships are always very special to handballers, and with 1,000 players converging on Portland, this year promises to be one of the best yet,’ said Walsh.
‘Hopefully our young players can fulfill their potential in the US, and indeed, there are plenty of title prospects in the senior grades also. It’s a wonderful game for all ages and the Worlds are testament to that.’
The City of Roses is prepared for action, and Irish handballers are ready to play. FIXTURES BOSS Mick Hagan cleared the way for another final when he got the two semi-finals of the Keating Cup played, one at Baltinglass on Wednesday and the other in Newtown on Tuesday (what did we do before floodlighting arrived).
Super sub Thomas Burke grabbed a late winner for Hollywood at the end of a cracking Keating Cup semi-final, played at Baltinglass on Wednesday.
Both sides had their periods of dominance in this match, both grabbed goals at vital times - and both, but in particular Carnew had costly misses.
With ten minutes to go and the sides level Hollywood sprung their former county star Burke from the bench and inside a minute he had pointed the Glensiders into the lead. He added another point before ramming in a goal which saw Hollywood into their first Senior final in years.
Hollywood got off to a flying start when Ciarán Tyrrell put Keith Burke through for a goal in the second minute. Brian Osbourne replied with a Carnew point to set the stage for a great battle.
It was 1-3 to 0-4 after 15 minutes but a goal by live-wire full-forward Seánie Kinsella in the 22nd minute put Carnew in front for the first time.
At that stage Carnew’s hopes took a big setback when their strong midfielder Gary Doran limped off and took no more part in the game.
A point by Joe Glennon levelled the game for the first time and a late free by Keith Burke left Hollywood leading by 16 to 1-5 at half-time.
Kinsella levelled the game for a second time at the restart but after points by Burke and Darren Healy had edged Hollywood ahead again. It was the flying Brian Osbourne that brought the sides level again at the three quarter stage.
It was a switch that saw Timmy Collins move out to the half-forward line to allow Liam Kennedy to drop back to help out at midfield that triggered the Carnew comeback.
Someone in Hollywood must have remembered the line from the song ‘anything you can do we can do better’ as they went for the injured Thomas Burke in a bid to turn the tide - and turn it he certainly did.
True to form Carnew never gave up and as the game ticked into injury-time Liam Kennedy blasted the ball to the net and only a point separated the sides again. However time ran out and it was Hollywood who went through to the final.
Another sub to play a major role in this victory was David Tutty who took over in goal for Hollywood for the second-half and made one super save from Keith Osbourne at a time when another Carnew goal could have turned the tide.