The fourth annual Roscommon Handball One-Wall Post Primary Schools Blitz was held for the second year in succession in the Meánscoil Mhuire gan Smál gymnasium in Roscommon Town. This fantastic venue provided three full size One-Wall courts which facilitated the completion of forty-four handball games over four hours.
Five of the seven post primary schools in the county took part in the event this year, making up seventeen teams of four from 1st and 2nd year classes. This particular event each year is targeted at beginners. In this regard, great credit must go to the teachers in the respective schools for the time and effort which they put in to preparing teams.
As the days matches wore on, the fun element was equalled by the determination, as sights were set on the cup and plate titles. As the semi’s played out, in what is every promoters dream, the five schools had representatives in either the cup or plate finals! Against this trend, in the girl’s Cup event it was an all Meánscoil Mhuire gan Smál Roscommon final with ‘Team 1’ and ‘Team 2’ from the all-girls Roscommon Town school doing battle after coming through semi-finals against Roscommon Community College (Team 2) and Roscommon Community College (Team 1), respectively. The bragging rights goes to the Convent’s ‘Team 1’ after two games of doubles of seven minutes each. The winning team was Lisa Holland, Aoife Tremble, Ellen O’Beirne and Laura Crean and runners-up were Aine Biesty, Eva Beisty, Evelyn Kilcline and Shauan Regan. Both teams were coached by Sarah Farragher. The girls ensured the Cup title returned to Meánscoil Mhuire gan Smál Roscommon after Scoil Mhuire, Strokestown took the title from them in 2015
In the Boys Cup event Roscommon CBS (Team 1) took on Scoil Mhuire, Strokestown (Team 1) in the final after both came through tight semi-finals against Roscommon Community College and Roscommon CBS (Team 2), respectively. The CBS team took a lead of three points into the second game of doubles. This lead was closed down towards the end of the second seven minutes, leaving a very exciting finish to the match. One narrow miss by the Strokestown lads in the final minute, allowed Roscommon CBS to keep the winning margin at three points (25-22). The winning CBS team was Leigh Doyle, Ciaran Neil Smith, Ben Connaughton and Michael Corcoran, with coaches Ger Maher and Michelle Daly. The runners-up team from Scoil Mhuire, Strokestown were Aaron Dowd, Daniel Feerick, Darragh McDonnell and Jack Doorley.
In the Girls Plate event, the north Roscommon Schools of Scoil Mhuire Stokestown and Elphin Community College did battle after coming through matches against Roscommon Convent (Team 3) and Strokestown (Team 2), respectively. After their school winning the Cup event in 2015, Strokestown were looking for some consolation in 2016. However, it was the Elphin team which prevailed. The winning team was Lucy Fallon, Shauna Traynor, Ellen Tiernan and Lauren Shanagher, under the stewardship of Brian Higgins. The runners-up team was Aoife Beirne, Ciara Fahy, Megan Donoghoe and Auguste Pocinto, coached by Damien McCormack.
The final event was the Boys Plate event, which saw a third title coming to a Roscommon Town school. Roscommon Community College, under the tutorage of Siobhan Tully and Fergal Timmons, saw off the challenge of Brian Higgin’s Elphin charges. This was just reward for the Roscommon Community College, who put in a strong performance in the other events also. The winning team was Eoghan Farrell, Evan Croghan, Adam Bracken and Erik Horvath. The runners-up team from Elphin were Paul Molloy, Alex Rossiter, Mark Barran and Jack Murphy.
As with previous years, the Roscommon Handball County Board put up the prizes and sponsored the event, which is aimed at promoting handball in schools throughout the county. Roscommon has a proud tradition in handball and our schools are important nurseries to help hone the skills of young players. Officials at the event reminisced about the days of rushing out at break and at lunch to get a wall to play handball. Although difficult to compete with team sports, there are great benefits to participation in handball, including improved hand-eye coordination, improved reflexes and cardio-vascular benefits. It is also non-contact, but extremely explosive, and it is a game with potential lifelong participation. It is incumbent on the Handball County Board to engage with the GAA County Board and schools to develop facilities within the Roscommon schools and promote the games development among a very enthusiastic audience.
A sincere thanks to the St Coman’s personnel who helped out with referring and officiating, including Mary Tully, Aengus Cunningham, Cathal O’Connor, Halid Yaekayev, Mogamed Yaekayev and Fiona Tully. Thanks also to Darragh Daly, Handball Development Officer at Croke Park, for supplying handballs and prizes. Finally, thanks to all the boys and girls who participating in what was an action packed and fun filled event.