Saturday, 10 January 2015

Club P.R.O. Report for Collooney handball club A.G.M.

The impressive Collooney handball 40 x 20 court

Legendary players Mick Kelly & Paddy Walsh cut the tape to mark the new court open

All-Ireland handball 60 x 30 champions in 2014:  Paddy Walsh & Shane Bruen

The majestic Collooney handball 40 x 20 comples

The committee to beat all committees

The winning team: Shane Malone main contractor, Hugh McGarry Development Chairman and P.J. Moran Architect/Engineer

Collooney handball Club P.R.O. report 2014 By Michael McGee

 Bingo huge success story, All Ireland  60 x 30 Champions Paddy Walsh & Shane Bruen,  the new  40 x 20 handball court opens,   club hosts its first 40 x 20 tournament some of the highlights in a never to be forgotten year.

Collooney handball club celebrate an historical year

The first handball for our club players was the annual Gerard Jones Memorial Handball Tournament over in Castleconnor on the last Sunday in January.  The club’s players that took part were  Gerry Coleman,Shane Bruen, Stanley Harte Snr & Jnr, Martin Brannigan, Paddy Walsh, Emmett Brannigan.  Castleconnor’s Martin Cooney & Micheal Jones won the tournament. Stanley Harte Snr & Mark Murphy took home the plate final  by 31-28 over Michael Browne & Barry McLoughlin.
Later that same week club members met Minister for Sport Michael Ring to thank him for his efforts in the club receiving €50,000 funding from the Department of Sports & Tourism and ask him for help in getting funds to finish off the 60 x 20 court.
The Connacht 40x 20 championships began in early February and unfortunately most of our players fell at the first hurdle. Shane Bruen was well on course for victory in the Masters B singles but a finger injury seriously hampered him in his eventual loss to Bofield’s Michael Ginley.
In the colleges championships Pat Fox representing St. Mary’s College Ballisodare  had a dramatic win over Aaron Scollan representing  Ballinamore Community College. Fox fell behind losing the first game before levelling it 15-11 in game two. In the tie breaker Fox  was 12-0 with Scollan just needing 3 points for overall victory. Somehow and somewhere Fox conjured an unlikely victory when defeating Scollan in a dramatic finish 15-14 at the finish. However Fox could not keep up the momentum and fell at the semi-final stage to a Galway opponent in St. Mary’s  Salthill.
Progress on the new handball court was well advanced and by St. Patrick’s Day the roof was on and work was starting indoors.

In October the Jim Bergin Shield was presented to the club by Jim Gilligan.  At the opening of the court in 1928 Joe & Paddy Bergin who were residing in Tipperary at  the time played Jim Hunt & Eddie Perry.   Joe Bergin won the Junior Softball doubles with Michael O’Gorman. The shield will be used for a Juvenile club tournament.  The club are indebted to the Bergin Family for their very welcome and generous sponsorship

Provincial successes for Peter Chambers, Stanley Harte, Paddy Walsh & Shane Bruen

The following month the 60 x 30 championships was in full swing and a number of our club players played outstanding handball on the way to the All-Ireland finals. In the minor doubles final Stanley Harte & Pat Fox lost to Mayo’s Niall Joyce and Sean Cunnane. Peter Davey lost out to Joe Neary in the final of the Diamond Masters B singles.  Shane Bruen powered his way to a tie break win over Mayo’s Michael Ginley played in Ballymote.  In the Provincial final Shane defeated Roscommon’s John Kenney 21012,21-10. And followed this up with a win in the doubles with Castleconnor’s Martin Cooney over Roscommon’s John Kennedy & Seamie Connolly by 21-15, 21-2

Club’s €200,000 40 x 20 court is finally opened

August 29th will go down in the Club’s history with the opening of the new €200,000 40x 20 handball court. A huge attendance which included Joe Taaffee G.A.A. Co. Board Chairman , Eamon McMunn Sligo G.A.A. administrator along with Wexford Handball Secretary Tony Breen and his wife Betty made the long journey from Wexford. It was Tony’s second visit to Collooney within a few days and I want to thank him for his wonderful words of  encouragement he gave on  our historic opening.

Shane Malone was the main contractor and P.J. Moran was the architect /Engineer on the project. Malone’s team also included Jimmy Kilgallon, Eamon Waters, Padraic Harte, Michael Harte & the Walsh Brothers.   The work of Shane Malone and his team was first class and it is a testimony to their professionalism that the playing court is of an excellent standard.Fr. Pat Peyton P.P. Collooney and Rev Adam Pullen Ballisodare gave the ecumenical blessing.  Two of our legendary players Mick Kelly & Paddy Walsh had the honour of cutting the tape to  open the new court. Indeed it was a double celebration for Paddy as he celebrated his 74th birthday the very same day.  In another excellent speech by Club Development Chairman Hugh McGarry he thanked everyone who made it all possible and especially to all the club’s loyal bingo players who without their support it would not have been possible.  Hugh remembered the great friends  who are now deceased people like Willy Loftus, Ned Connelly, Mrs Jackson, Mickey Finn, Kathleen Finn, Gabriel Walsh &  John O’ Hora and there was a minutes silence for all the deceased.

Hugh and all in the club were delighted to see Michael McElroy son of William McElroy the first club secretary in 1928 looking hale and hearty in attendance.   The Committee comprised of Hugh McGarry Development Chairman, Connell Cannon, Shane Bruen, Stanley Harte Snr, Brendan Carey, Peter Chambers,  Seamus Duffy, Denise Mullin, Aoife McDonagh, Michael McGee, Paddy Walsh, Peter Davey &  Mick Kelly were also thanked by Hugh for their heroic  efforts.

In the All-Ireland semi-finals Shane Bruen had an 21-10, 21-14 victory over Limerick’s Mike O’ Connor. Bruen & Cooney made the long journey to Dungarvan where the duo defeated Tipperary’s  David Tobin & Paul Maher 21-8, 21-10 in a hard fought game in the Masters B doubles. In the  Golden Masters B doubles Stanley Harte & Peter Chambers journey to Broadford in Limerick was a fruitless one when losing out to Tony Hayes & Tom O’Shea.

Bruen and Walsh All-Ireland handball champions in 2014

And so it was onto the All-Ireland finals in the Na Fianna Club in Dublin.  Shane Bruen captured a long overdue All-Ireland 60 x30 Masters B singles title with an 21-17, 21-9 victory over Wexford’s John Roche.  Paddy Walsh was in Crinkle for his final date with his old foe in Dublin’s Mick O Brien.  Walsh  was in imperious form when accounting for the Dubliner in 3 games by  17-21, 21-14, 21-1.  It was Paddy’s 30th All-Ireland title win an astonishing achievement by our legend.  He won his first title back in 1974 and is still going strong, still hungry for more success.   One week later Shane & Martin Cooney travelled to Crinkle, to take on Wexford pairing John Roche & Damien Kelly.  In a close first game Bruen & Cooney did just enough to take the opening game by 21-18. In the second their great workrate continued while Wexford’s challenge wilted under the constant pressure exerted by the Yeats County men. In the end Bruen & Cooney powered home by 21-10. I want to congratulate both Paddy Walsh & Shane Bruen (2) All-Ireland titles success in 2014 a magnificent achievement. A number of weeks later the duo were feted by the club and received pieces of Galway Crystal in recognition of their achievements in 2014. In the Club 60 x 30  Championships Collooney easily overcame Curraghboy in the Connacht final  but came unstuck in the All-Ireland semi-final against Broadford from Limerick. The team on duty were Stanley Harte Jnr, Michael McMorrow, Michael McGee, Peter Chambers & Stanley Harte Snr. With a little bit more preparation the team has the potential of going a step further in 2015.

In the club’s first handball tournament to be played in the new handball 40x 20 court  Team G of Joe McCann , Pat Fox, Michael Browne, Aoife Quinn, Michael Murphy & Liam Naughton defeated Team C of  Michael Ginely, Pat O’Sullivan, Martin Golden, Connell Cannon & Martin Brannigan by 123-104. Much praise must go to Connell Cannon who organised the tournament.
A new venture the club got involved with is the Ocean FM Sports Radio Quiz and is an extra dimension to the club’s publicity. The team of Aoife McDonagh, Gerry Coleman and I have now reached the quarter finals of the competition.
Just at the end of December news came though that World Handball Champion Paul Brady will be coming to Collooney. This has given everyone in the club a massive lift right at the start of the new year and we await to see the world champion showing his skills in our new court.

Club Committee

I would like to thank everyone who made this year an extra special year in the history of our club. As a whole this committee that I am so proud to have played my small part worked endlessly and they never wilted or faltered. With this highly committed group there was no taking no for an answer their resolve was heart warming and their utter determination and steadfastness to make the project a success has to be commended.
I want to thank everyone who worked so hard in the last number of years Brendan Carey who is stepping down as Chairman after having served over 40 years as Club Chairman. Brendan must be one of the longest serving Chairman in any club in the Country. He is deserving of his retirement and sincere thanks to Brendan for all his work in the last 4 decades. Hugh McGarry as we all know is the leading light. Hugh, like Brendan is stepping down having served as 4 years of development Chairman. I can only hope his impending departure will be a short one. He has fought and fought for this court and I know he will be bring this great fight with him as he takes on other personal  challenges in the year ahead. And I want to wish Hugh the very best with this.   And I know he will be back bigger, better, and stronger for it. Also, I want to thank Connell Cannon, Shane Bruen & Stanley  Harte for all their great work on the committee in the last numbers of years .   I know Shane has said he wants to step down as Secretary but I would like to encourage him to stay on at least for one more year as he has done a good job for us as Secretary.  Peter “the great” Chambers did huge work for us when securing the seats for the Collooney hall. Seamus Duffy is also very helpful when recording club activities with his camera and I thank Seamus for all his help in this regard. Peter Davey words or wisdom and his great work at the bingo each week has to be commended. Aoife McDonagh on occasions has filled in as Bingo Caller and has done an excellent job for us. Paddy Walsh helped to organise a fundraising walk for us and Mick Kelly is always a source of great encouragement. I want to thank each and every one of you for your tireless work last year and in previous years. Congratulations to Mick & Sally Kelly who celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary on Friday 12th September last and I want to wish them both on behalf of the club every health and happiness in the years to come.

McGarry’s midas touch 

One man above all else stood out head and shoulders above the rest and that is Hugh McGarry. From day one Hugh worked tirelessly day and night and did exceptional and stupendous work for us. My dad R.I.P. said to me many times that you have to die before you get praised  but I want  to praise this man for what he has done for this club especially in the last 5 years or so. He led by example and played a captain’s part his great drive I believe rubbed off on all of us.  With the greatest of respect to all here present I believe Hugh was the only one that could deliver this project to a successful conclusion.  The work he did for us was immeasurable. For me the one thing that really sticks out in my mind apart from his great drive and quiet determination and willingness to gently push us all and the club to do the best that we could.

Hugh McGarry  a captain apart

His speech at the Sod Turning in May 2012 will always live long in the memory with me particular those last few words when he said “Stick with us and we will do it. Is feidir Linn.” Hugh’s prophetic words  finally became a reality last August and he had  the biggest smile of anyone of us that evening and I congratulate him and the entire team who worked, worked and worked and never lost sight of what we all wanted to achieve. Today, we have a beautiful 40x 20 court that matches any court in the country if not in the World, a court we can be immensely proud off. This beautiful building we are now in will be Hugh’s McGarry’s lasting legacy and as a team we can all be hugely proud at what this club has achieved in a relative short space of time. Like I said in the recent press “we dreamed an impossible dream.”  From a small handball club in Sligo to achieve what we did is something out of the ordinary, very special and something we can all be proud off.
I also want to thank all our loyal Bingo supporters who week in week out continue to support the club at the Bingo without them there simply would be no 40x 20 court and we should never lose sight of this.   Members also contribute €5 a week and i encourage everyone to keep supporting the club in this way. We need to keep building on and improving the bingo for our loyal patrons.  We have to keep working hard in order to bring down the debt.

Media exposure

The media are very important to us and I am very happy the amount of publicity this club achieved in  the last 12 months full pages in the local press in the Sligo Champion my thanks to Michael Moran Sports Editor and to my friends in the Sligo Weekender Liam Maloney  the Sports Editor.  There was also back pages and inside pages in the “Into the West Magazine”, great coverage in the Sligo G.A.A website my thanks to Eamonn McMunn, Hoganstand , twitter and National G.A.A. Handball website.  Ocean FM in particular Darragh Cox sports editor has always being a good friend of ours on the airwaves along with Ronan Moyles.
I started our own website back in January and it is doing very well and highlighting the club activities. The website address is and has over 3,000 hits already.  I want to encourage everyone in the club to keep on sending me details of fixtures, results, photos, news items etc and will publish them on our site.

Future development

There is still a  great deal of work  still to be done most notably on the 60 x 30 court with a new glass wall and gallery yet  to be completed and i have no doubt this work will also be finished
Also we need to bring in more young players into the club boys and girls and pass on the love of handball that we all have in order for future generations to keep enjoying playing the sport. We had an Open Day in late December that was poorly attended and we need to organise another one in the coming months to get new members taking up the sport.  We need also to support the likes of Paddy Walsh, Mick Kelly, Stanley Harte, Shane Bruen  who coach the young members.
Already, the likes of our young stars such as Stanley Harte Jnr, Pat Fox and Tommy Trill are beginning to show off their huge potential and this is a source of great satisfaction for the club. The club has to have a vibrant underage structure for future success.

Finally i want to extend my sincere sympathies to everyone who had bereavement in 2014. My own Dad Michael Snr R.I.P.comes immediately to mind. Lastly, want to wish everyone in the club a very happy, prosperous and sporting new year.

Michael McGee Club PRO

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