"NEW" One Wall Handball
One Wall Handball Championship Rekindles Memories and Provides Great Competitions
Kilkenny handball Board held their first One-Wall Handball County Championships since the early 1940’s in sun drenched Windgap on Sunday. The most popular form of the sport in the world the players displayed high levels of skill and fitness, and provided many moments of tension filled entertainment on the two courts in front of the large crowd in attendance.
In the open competition played on a round robin basis the final was contested by the Anthony brothers from Mullinavat after Nicholas headed his group ahead of Dan Breen of Kells and Eoin Hennessey of Clogh who took him to a tie breaker. In the second group his brother Ger. qualified after overcoming Brendan Hosey of Clogh and Ciaráin Neary of Talbot’s Inch in another tiebreaker. In the all Anthony final Ger. took the title after two games.
One Wall Handball Open County Championship participants in Windgap
Michael O’Shea Windgap Handball Club Secretary, Nicholas Anthony (Mullinavat). Billy Love Chairman Kilkenny County Handball Board, Liam Mahon Leinster Handball, Ciaráin Neary (Talbot’s Inch), Eddie English (Goresbridge) Gerard Doyle Chairman Windgap Handball Club.
Front: Con Moore World Handball Council, Brendan Hosey (Clogh) Ger Anthony (Mullinavat), Eoghan Hennessey (Clogh) Dan Breen (Kells)
In the masters final Paul Dowling of Mothel took the title by a single ace 15-14 in a tiebreaker over Eamon Purcell from the local Windgap club. In the semi- finals Paul defeated Eamon's brother Jimmy whilst Eamon was taken to another tiebreaker by Pat Walsh also of the local Club. Also participating were Michael Dalton of Kells, Liam Mahon and Eddie English of Goresbridge, Eamon Holohan of Kilfane and Con Moore of O'Loughlins.
One Wall Handball Masters County Championship participants in Windgap
Back row left to Right: Billy Love Kilkenny County Handball Chairman, Pat Walsh (Windgap), Michael Dalton (Kells), Eamon Holohan (Kilfane) Michael O’Shea (Windgap), Jimmy Purcell (Windgap).
Front Row: Paul Dowling (Mothel) Eamon Purcell (Windgap) Liam Mahon (Goresbridge) Con Moore (O‘Loughlins) Eddie English (Goresbridge).
Beidh Lá Eile
The success of the event and the simplicity of the game that can be played against any wall ensures its return to the to the County Fixtures list and expansion across the County in the coming years. Present on the day were County Handball Chairman Billy Love who presented the trophies and most of the local County Board officials that included Eddie English, Con Moore, Liam Mahon, Jim Burke and Betty Funchion.
On the day many of the senior visitors recalled playing in the one-wall alleys down through the generations. Included were memories of the Kilmacow, Muckalee, Owning, Windgap, Kilfane, Slatuequarries and the Commons alleys and those at the old churches of Newtown Kells and Mothel. All with their own personalities, heights, widths, lengths, intricacies and side walls built more often to keep them up more so than to keep the ball in play they provided endless hours of sport and entertainment in different economic and social times. Also present were local horse trainers Joseph Crowley who recalled many evenings in the Slatequarries and the raising of the front wall of the now derelict alley, Kieran Purcell who played the one wall game and whose father won a county title with the Slatequarries back in 1921. Also present was local Hurling Club President Dan Phelan who won a one wall title in 1943 and multi All Ireland winners Jim Neary. For photos of the day visit windgap.kilkenny.gaa.ie
After commencing at ten thirty the finals were completed by four thirty with County Chairman Billy Love and Club Chairman Gerard Doyle expressing their thanks to all involved in any way. For all present the idyllic scene and summer sunshine and heat was likened to the one wall strongholds of the Basque Country in Spain and across the Americas where the game is played in the open on many streets. For the players who were playing the game for the first time the adjustment from the indoor courts was easily made.
At the event to Julie Walsh a member of the Club Scór side accepted a presentation from Liam Mahon on behalf of John Ryan, Marie Duggan, Julie Walsh Eileen Dunne who represented the County in the ballad group and instrumental music at the National 125 year Handball celebrations in Croke park recently.
The men behind the Wall
The build up from Friday evening saw the extraordinary band of active club members put the final touches in place. Starting early Simon Brophy had freshly cut grass flying out of the mower as the crew arrived to mark out the handball courts paint the lines tidy up around the grounds from the road to the bounds at the Seskin end. By eleven that evening under the new floodlights the main work was completed with an early start planned for Saturday morning to wrap up before the forecasted rain. Elsewhere the catering gang was busy making buns, cakes, tarts and sandwiches in abundance for the visitors on the big day. A reflection on the volunteer crew saw the busy people deliver the goods as they fitted in their tasks as players, selectors and trainers with other club teams over the weekend.