Golden Girls of Clann Eireann

Clann Eireann Handball Club made history last week by becoming the most successful club in Ireland, and indeed the World, at the Handball World Championships held at the CityWest Complex in Dublin. The club can also boast the most decorated player of the 2012 World Championships, in Niamh Coleman.

18 club members set off from Lurgan to spend up to 10 days away from home in a mammoth competition that hosted over 2000 competitors from 30 countries from around the globe. The players played in singles and doubles matches in two different codes of handball – one wall and four wall.

Ruairi McDonald and Peadar Magill were the first club members to compete on day 1 in the 11 & under singles and both defeated their opponents to make it to the second round. Ruairi also won through to the second round in the one wall singles later in the week.

Beth Doris and Meabh Mc Cambridge teamed up in the 11 & under four wall doubles and also won through to the second round after fine performances from both girls on the day. Megan McCann concentrated her greatest efforts on her stronger one wall game, winning through the first two rounds comfortably before meeting her own clubmate, Aoibhinn Henderson, the eventual winner of this grade.

Meabh McMahon and Kaitlin Fleville gave a good account of themselves pairing up in the 15&under four wall doubles, and also individually in the singles in both grades. The 15&under grade was another area dominated by Clann Eireann – more of which later. Caolan McCann entered the very competitive 17&under grade in both one and four wall, playing some excellent handball through the early rounds.

The Club’s senior members were represented in play by Colum Shanks and the McMahon contingent of Peadar, his brother Conor and Conor’s son Ciaran. All played in both disciplines and performed well in their fields – meeting, and defeating, players from all over Ireland and as far afield as USA, Belgium and Japan!

Conor progressed furthest, being narrowly defeated in a thrilling tie break match by the winner of the Golden Masters B grade (four wall). He went one step further in the one wall doubles, with another devastating tie break defeat in the final. He brings home a Silver World Champions medal – which turned out to be one of many for this Lurgan club!

As previously alluded to, Clann Eireann dominated many of the juvenile grades in these championships – particularly the girls. Dervla Coleman is, literally, head and shoulders above her competitors in the 11 & under grade and was always fancied to do well here. She didn’t dissapoint! Dervla came home with 2 Golds (one wall singles and doubles) and 2 Silvers (four wall singles and doubles) – in what would appear to be an achievement unlikely to be surpassed (though her older sister, Niamh, still had something to say about that!)

The 15 & under Clann Eireann girls dominated this section in both codes. In the four wall doubles cousins (and usual rivals!) Aoife McConville and Niamh Coleman paired up and powered through all opposition to meet Tyrone in the final. This one went to the wire with Tyrone fighting hard to take the game to tie break. Aoife and Niamh showed their hunger for Gold though and outplayed their opponents to get the glory!

In the one wall doubles the Citywest audience may have thought they were seeing double with the final being fought out by 4 girls in the Orange and White! Alana Doran and Aoibhinn Henderson played club mates and friends Aoife McConville and Niamh Coleman in a fantastic match that displayed the great skills and heart of each of these four fine players – with Aoife and Niamh being just that little bit stronger on the day. That was Silver for Alana and Aoibhinn, and a second gold each for Aoife and Niamh – with more to come!

Meanwhile Aoibhinn Henderson was dominating the 13&under singles, again in both one wall and four wall. Aoibhinn’s power and precision play gave opponents little chance and she was a worthy winner in both codes, carrying two Gold medals back to Lurgan around her neck.

The medal tally listed above was already more than most counties, or indeed countries ended up with – but Clann Eireann weren’t quite finished yet!The most successful player in the whole World Championship was our own Niamh Coleman, who was the outstanding player at 15&under level. She already had picked up two golds in the doubles with cousin Aoife.

She was also entered individually in both the one wall and four wall singles and swept aside every challenger in her way to take both titles! That’s 4 Gold medals! 4 World titles! An unbelievable achievement and one that was thoroughly deserved. Niamh’s play was consistently excellent throughout the competition and it was this consistency, along with a never say die attitude, that brought such success! Well done Niamh!

As the perfect round off to Clann Eireann’s success story, Conall McCavitt played some unbelievable one wall games to take both the singles and the doubles titles! The standard here was extremely high and Conall had to play at top level, through many Irish and international competition, to take the Golds! Conall is well recognised in e handball fraternity as one of the top talents in one wall and he has now put his stamp on this as the World’s best player at this grade.

Clann Eireann returned from the World Handball Championships with the largest medal haul in the competition – 12 Gold Medals and 5 Silvers. A feat recognised and celebrated with a victory homecoming held in the club on Sunday 28th October.

The next World Championships will be in Calgary, Canada in 2015. Remember the names above – no doubt they will feature again then.

Clann Eireann Abu!

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