Two National Handball Awards were bestowed upon members of St Comans Handball Club at a ceremony in Croke Park on Saturday.
Michael Naughton, Roscommon’s very own ‘Mr. Handball’ received the Hall of Fame Award and it is unlikely that there will ever be a more deserving recipient. For virtually all his adult life Michael has been heavily involved in all aspects of St Comans Handball and at County level – playing, coaching and administration. It is probably fair to say that his quiet, gentlemanly manner has won him even more admiration right across the Handball world.
Michael’s playing achievements have probably gone under the radar somewhat, due in no small part to his own modesty. During 30+ years as a wonderful County PRO Michael preferred to give others the headlines while granting his own numerous overage All-Irelands minimal coverage.
Since the mid 1970’s his coaching of both boys and girls has seen numerous prodigies win every underage title in the game including a number of World Championships. Right up to the present day Michael can be still be seen in and around the courts in Roscommon meting out quiet words of advise and even fitting in an odd game or two.
The latest standout player from Michael’s long line of success is Fiona Tully and she received the 2015 Young Female Player of the Year award at the same ceremony. Fiona had an outstanding second half to 2015 after recovering from a serious back injury which at one stage looked like keeping her out of handball for good. Since her hugely impressive World title win last August, Fiona has won almost every competition she has entered, winning All-Irelands in Schools, Nationals and Minor grades in both courts. If Fiona manages to remain injury-free she really will be one to watch in the coming years.
The coming weekend sees the latest instalment of the annual One-Wall Nationals and a chance for more St Comans players to win National honours. Despite being only in existence for a short number of years, there is no doubt that the One-Wall Nationals weekend has become the highlight of the handball calendar for many competitors. Held in the ideal setting of Breaffy House, Castlebar it attracts hundreds of players young and old from every corner of the country and matches are usually played in a tremendous atmosphere. St Comans Handball Club will have a big allotment of players competing as usual and will be hoping for good performances and hopefully some titles.