Latest Laois Sport: Laois clubs score big successes at Handball Feile

Latest Laois Sport: Laois clubs score big successes at Handball Feile

GAA Handball Féile na nGael 2022 proves huge success for Laois clubs

There was great excitement with the return of GAA Handball Féile na nGael last Saturday with approximately 350 players and nearly 60 clubs from right across the country descending on Laois, Carlow and Kilkenny venues to take part in this year’s competition. St. Brigid’s, Monavea played host to the Boys’ 40×20 Division 7 competition, Cullohill hosted the Girls’ 40×20 Division 2 competition and Clough Ballacolla was the main venue for the Wall-Ball section of the competition.

Before the action commenced in the various divisions, both St. Brigid’s, Monavea and Ballacolla marked the opening of Féile na nGael with traditional bag-piper led parades. These parades added to the colour, prestige and excitement of Féile as well as fostering a sense of friendship and respect amongst the competing clubs.  The parade in Ballacolla was led by GAA Handball Uachtarán Dessie Keegan and Laois GAA Handball Chairperson Joe Brennan with a minute’s silence also observed in memory of local man Keith Orr (RIP).

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St. Brigid’s, Monavea leading the Monavea Féíle na nGael parade

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Cullohill Féíle na nGael girls’ team and coaches enjoying the parade at Ballacolla

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GAA Handball President Dessie Keegan and Laois GAA Handball Chairperson Joe Brennan leading the Féíle na nGael parade in Ballacolla followed by the Clough Ballacolla teams.

Clough Ballacolla secure historic Féile Division 1 All-Ireland double

Clough Ballacolla Handball Club is renowned for being one of strongest juvenile Wall-Ball clubs within the country in recent years and this was once again evident last weekend when both their Boys’ and Girls’ teams captured Division One titles.   

In the Girls’ Division 1 competition, Clough Ballacolla made a winning start to the competition with a dominant 21-01, 21-02 victory against Abbeylara (Longford). They followed this victory by defeating Kilfane (Kilkenny) on a score line of 21-05, 21-10. In round three, they faced Modscoile (Limerick). This was expected to be a close battle and the game did not disappoint.  Modscoile took the opening game on a scoreline of 07- 21. However, the Clough Ballacolla girls responded brilliantly to win the next game 13- 12, leaving the final score 19- 33 in favour of Modscoile. In round 4 the Clough Ballacolla girls knew that they needed a big performance to ensure themselves of a place in the final. The round 4 game against Clann Eireann (Armagh) proved a thriller. Clann Eireann took the opening game on a scoreline of 14-08 meaning that the Clough Ballacolla girls now had to win their next game if they were to keep their aspirations of winning the Division 1 Wall-Ball title alive. The girls duly responded by winning the second game 21-14. With Modscoile defeating Clann Eireann in the final group game, Clough Ballacolla sneaked through to the Féile na nGael Division 1 Final on accumulated score difference. 

In the final, Clough Ballacolla faced Modscoile (Limerick) hoping to avenge their group stage loss. The large crowd in attendance added to what was a fantastic atmosphere as two evenly matched teams squared off once more. Amy Daly and Mairead Ryan were the opening pair for Clough Ballacolla and they performed brilliantly to match their opponents score for score. Ultimately, Modscoile would win out by three aces taking a narrow 15-12 lead into the deciding game. Elizabeth Pearson and Oonagh Byrne were next into action, needing to overcome the three ace deficit to capture the title for Clough Ballacolla. Modscoile were to lead for the majority of the game, however Elizabeth and Oonagh remained calm throughout and they showed phenomenal determination, skill and composure to win the vital aces needed to claim an 18-11 ace victory. In doing so they ensured that the Féile na nGael Girls’ Division 1 title was going to Clough Ballacolla after a thrilling and dramatic day’s competition.  

In the Boys’ Division 1 competition, Clough Ballacolla were strong favourites to compete an historic treble and retain the titles they won in 2018 and 2019. In round 1 they comfortably saw off the challenge of Naomh Eanna (Antrim). They followed up this victory with resounding victories over Modscoile (Limerick) and Clann Eireann (Armagh) to secure their place in the Féile na nGael Division 1 Wall-Ball Final. In the final they would once again face Clann Eireann. 

Liam Ryan and CJ Brennan were first into action for Clough Ballacolla. The two Laois handballers gave a brilliant display, delivering several kill shots and deep court serves and deservedly won the opening game 21-12. Up next were brothers Colm and Fergal Brennan who gave an equally outstanding display of handball. Colm delivered multiple deep serves landing the ball with unerring accuracy each time while Fergal took several aces with his power serves. Their Clann Eireann opponents tried valiantly but were no match for the Clough Ballacolla brothers on the day. At the end of the day’s action, Clough Ballacolla were crowned convincing winners with a final score line of 21-12, 21-7.

To cap off a remarkable day for Clough Ballacolla, Amy Daly also took the gold medal in the Girls’ Wall-Ball skills competition. 

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Clough Ballacolla players enjoying Féíle na nGael 2022

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Clough Ballcolla Féile na nGael teams with GAA Handball President Dessie Keegan

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Clough Ballacolla Girls’ Team: Elizabeth Pearson, Amy Daly, Oonagh Byrne, Mairead Ryan, Meabh Rafter and Kate Ryan.

Clough Ballacolla Boys Team: CJ Brennan, Jim Hyland, Colm Brennan, Liam Ryan and Fergal Brennan.

Bright future for St. Brigid’s, Monavea as young team make Division 7 Final

St. Brigid’s Monavea hosted the Division 7 competition and cheered on by a vocal home support, their young but promising team of Darragh Brennan, Aaron Brennan, Mark Dowling, Michael Brennan and Oisin Dowling exceeded expectation and qualified for the Division 7 final. 

In round 1, Monavea defeated a strong Clonduff (Down) side on a scoreline of 19 – 15, 21-8. In their next game, they continued to play some top quality handball to defeat Maynooth (Kildare) on a scoreline of 21-0, 21-17. The Monavea handballers continued on their winning run with a hard fought 21-11, 13-17 victory against Abbeyside (Waterford) in their third game before Kells (Kilkenny) defeated them in their final group game 20-5, 21-7. 

These results were good enough to see the St. Brigid’s, Monavea handballers through to the Division 7 final where they would once again face a formidable Kells. However, Kells would once again prove too strong on the day impressively winning the final 21-4, 21-5. In the skills competition, Darragh Brennan performance magnificently for Monavea to take third place and a bronze medal with Darragh Lyons of Kells taking the gold medal.

In Tinryland, Monavea’s Division 6 team of Cian O’Sullivan, Mason Neale, Tiernan Patterson and Aaron Kearney gave two very commendable performances against Nenagh (Tipperary) and Ballydesmond (Cork). Unfortunately, Jack Doyle and Fionnan Brennan were unavailable for the group games, however, Fionnan was able to compete in the skills competition and did excellently to claim the Division 6 skills competition bronze medal. In the Division 6 Final, a very strong Ballydesmond were victorious defeating Abbeyside in the final. 

St. Brigid’s, Monavea Feile na nGael team: Darragh Brennan, Aaron Brennan, Mark Dowling, Michael Brennan, Oisin Dowling, Cian O’Sullivan, Mason Neale, Tiernan Patterson, Fionnan Brennan and Aaron Kearney

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St. Brigid’s, Monavea Division 6 Team with GAA Handball President Dessie Keegan, GAA handball manager Tom Maloney and Laois GAA Handball chairperson Joe Brennan

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Players ready for action in Division 7 of Féile na nGael

Cullohill agonisingly miss out in both Girls’ and Boys’ competition

Cullohill Handball Club hosted Division 2 of Girls’ competition with their team of Orla Brophy, Ellie Lafferty, Aoife Kelly, Sinead Kirby and Sarah Kavanagh competing in what proved to be the most dramatic and competitive division of this year’s Féile na nGael. After the group stages were completed, three teams found themselves level on the same number of points, Breacach of Tyrone, Toonagh of Clare and Cullohill of Laois. Sadly, on accumulated score difference, the Laois handballers found themselves narrowly missing out on a place in the final with Breacach and Toonagh edging out the Laois side. In the final, Breacach claimed the Division 2 title, proving too strong for their Clare counterparts.  

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Cullohill Féile na nGael Girls’ Team: Orla Brophy, Ellie Lafferty, Aoife Kelly, Sinead Kirby and Sarah Kavanagh pictured with eight-time senior All-Ireland handball champion Robbie McCarthy

The Cullohill Boys’ team of Ethan Lafferty, Jimmy Whyte, Eoin Holland, Eoin Delaney and Jamie Fogarty travelled to Borris where they were pitted against strong opposition in Mallow (Cork), Conna (Cork) and Mícheál Breathnach (Galway) in Division 5. In the group stages, Cullohill played out a thriller against Mícheál Breathnach with only a single ace separating the two sides after a high quality game. Cullohill took the victory on a 20-18 15-16 scoreline. In their next game, Cullohill recorded a comprehensive victory over Mallow and finished the group stages with an equally impressive victory over Conna. This qualified the Cullohill boys for the Division 5 final where they once more faced Mícheál Breathnach’s. The final proved a nail-biter and probably the most dramatic final played at this year’s Féile. First into action for Cullohill were Eoin Holland and Eoin Delaney. The two Cullohill handballers produced an excellent performance to give Cullohill a 5 ace lead with a 15-10 victory. Next into action for Cullohill were Jimmy Whyte and Ethan Lafferty. In a see-saw battle, the Laois players were agonisingly beaten 15-21, resulting in Mícheál Breathnach’s pipping the Cullohill handballers to the title by a solidary ace. Despite the agonising loss, the Cullohill team should be extremely proud of their efforts.  In the skills competition, Ethan Lafferty also captured a silver medal after an excellent display of skill and court craft.

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Cullohill’ Feile na nGael Boys’ team: Ethan Lafferty, Jimmy Whyte, Eoin Holland, Eoin Delaney and Jamie Fogarty with coach Ray Fogarty and GAA Handball president Dessie Keegan

Laois venues play big role in success of Féile na nGael 2022

Laois GAA Handball would like to compliment all our players for their fantastic efforts over the course of Féile na nGael. With many of our players eligible again next year, the experience of this weekend will really stand to our players and hopefully they will return next year ready to challenge for more skills and team titles. Laois GAA Handball would also like to thank all of the supporters who came out on the day for both the parade and the games. There was a fantastic atmosphere at each of the Laois venues and this was testament to the great work undertaken by the Laois clubs in preparing everything for this year’s Féile. GAA Handball Uachtarán Dessie Keegan, GAA handball manager Tom Maloney and Tom Keane of the National Féile na nGael Committee visited each of the Laois venue’s over the course of the Féile and were highly complementary of the efforts of St. Brigid’s, Cullohill and Clough-Ballacolla in ensuring that this year’s GAA Féile na nGael proved a resounding success.  

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GAA Handball Uachtarán Dessie Keegan, GAA handball manager Tom Maloney and Tom Keane of the National Féile na nGael Committee meeting with the St. Brigid’s, Monavea players, coaches and Féile na nGael organisers

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Cullohill Féíle na nGael 2022 teams enjoying this year’s Féile