Latest Laois Sport: Tremendous year for Laois Ladies Handball
2023 proves another remarkable year for Laois Ladies Handball
Laois GAA handball are celebrating a very successful 2023 handball season in Ladies Handball with a number of provincial and All-Ireland titles returning to the county at both adult and juvenile level. It is fantastic to see players from all three handball clubs in the county (St. Brigid’s Monavea, Cullohill and Clough Ballacolla) achieving success in the various codes of the game and competing with the very best female handball players from around the country.
60×30 Handball Season:
The highlight of the 60×30 handball season was the success of the Brophy sisters Aoife and Úna in capturing both Leinster and All-Ireland titles in the Ladies 60X30 Junior B Championships. In the singles competition, Úna Brophy progressed to the All-Ireland Final where she faced the talented Clare Conway of Tyrone. Played in Abbeylara, the final proved an absorbing encounter with both players displaying tremendous levels of skill and fitness. Despite being pushed all the way, Úna always maintained the upper hand and through a combination of strong serving and well-placed returns she deservedly won out on a scoreline of 21-12 21-15.
Following on from this success, Úna teamed up with her sister Aoife to mount a challenge for All-Ireland doubles glory. In the Leinster final, the pairing travelled to Garryhill where they faced strong opponents in Wexford’s April and Emily Moran. The Laois sisters produced probably their best performance as a doubles partnership to storm to a Leinster 60×30 title on a commanding 21-6 21-8 scoreline. Having captured the Leinster title, the girls focus quickly moved to achieving All-Ireland success and a trip to Roscommon where Tyrone opposition lay in wait. The girls repeated their performance of the Leinster Final, showing remarkable composure, strength, and skill to outclass Tyrones’ Claire Conway and Laura Tuohey 21-10 21-10.
The Cullohill HBC sisters truly deserved their Leinster and All-Ireland success after the disappointment of losing out on 60×30 honours in 2022. Their dedication to training and to developing as 60×30 alley players meant that they were always going to prove formidable opposition for anyone in this year’s championship. Hopefully Úna and Aoife will continue this upward trajectory in 2024 and challenge for further provincial and All-Ireland titles in the higher grades.
60×30 Juvenile Handball:
Following in the footsteps of her sisters, Orla Brophy achieved notable success in the 60×30 courts this year. In the prestigious Virginia Open, Orla teamed up with Leah Ryan of Carlow to capture the U17 Virginia Open Doubles title. Orla also progressed to the Girls U16 60×30 Leinster Final where she faced a familiar opponent in the talented Katie Jordan of Kilkenny. Katie’s greater 60×30 experience showed in the opening game as powered to a 21-7 opening game success. Having settled and found her rhythm, Orla Brophy bravely challenged her opponent ace for ace in a titanic second game. Unluckily, she was to lose out 21-20 in a game that could have gone either way to narrowly miss out on the Girls U16 Leinster title for 2023.
Juvenile Wall Ball Championships:
Over the last number of years Clough Ballacolla HBC has established themselves as a formidable force in Wall Ball at juvenile level. In 2023, their girls juvenile handballers once again delivered impressive results with titles being captured at both provincial and national level. In the 2023 John West Féile na nGael Wall Ball competition hosted by Kilgass HBC in Roscommon the Clough Ballacolla U15 girls defended their Division 1 title with a hugely impressive 2-0 victory over Abbeylara of Longford in the final. In the skills competition, Elizabeth Pearson captured the gold medal with an array of impressive skill shots.
In the Girls 40×20 Division 3 grade played in Moycullan, the Cullohill HBC team of Ellie Lafferty, Sarah Kavanagh, Sínead Kirby and Aoife Kelly performed brilliantly throughout the competition defeating Michael Breathnach’s 2-0 and taking a game each against both Carrickmore and Inis Mór before eventually losing out 2-0 to Clogh to narrowly miss out on a place in the final.
In the recently played Leinster Juvenile Wallball championships, Elizabeth Pearson’s built upon her success at the John West Féile na nGael by capturing the Girls U15 Leinster Wall Ball title with an outstanding performance to defeat Kilkenny’s Emily Doyle. This success has marked Elizabeth as one of the rising stars of Laois handball in 2023.
Earlier in the 2023 season, St. Brigid’s Monavea celebrated Leinster success when Annie Grant captured the Girls U13 Leinster singles title with a magnificent performance to defeat Mary Doran of Wexford 15-9 15-1. In the final, Annie displayed fantastic levels of skill and determination, suggesting that she has the potential to challenge for many more titles in the future. In the Girls U16 Leinster final, Orla Brophy lost out to Katie Jordan of Kilkenny 21-7 21-12. In the Ladies 40×20 Leinster Junior Final, Úna and Aoife Brophy produced an excellent performance but were unfortunately narrowly beaten by Wexford’s Holly Hynes and Cora Doyle 21-7 21-20. Based on this showing, the girls will enter the 2024 40×20 championship season confident of challenging for honours.
Three County Training 2023:
The Three County training programme for girls from u12 to u15 commenced at the beginning of October to prepare players for the 2024 handball season. This series of coaching sessions involves handballers from Laois, Carlow and Kilkenny and is targeted at improving the skill sets of the players involved. It also provides the girls involved with an opportunity to train and play with players from different counties and to make new friendships through the game of handball.
For girls within the county interested in taking up handball, St. Brigid’s Monavea, Cullohill and Clough-Ballacolla HBC are currently welcoming new juvenile members. Each of the clubs can be contacted through their Facebook pages for more information. Girls handball continues to go from strength to strength within the county and Laois GAA handball is determined to build upon this success in 2024 and work to further increase the number of girls participating in the game of handball.
Ladies Leinster 60×30 Junior B Finalists: April & Emily Moran (Wexford) and Aoife & Úna Brophy (Laois)
Ladies Junior B 60×30 All-Ireland Finalists: Claire Conway & Laura Tuohey (Tyrone) & Úna & Aoife Brophy (Laois)
Girls U15 Leinster Wall Ball Finalists: Emily Doyle (Kilkenny) & Elizabeth Pearson (Laois)
2023 John West Féile na nGael Wall Ball Division 1 Champions Clough Ballacolla
U17 Virginia Open Doubles Champions: Orla Brophy (Laois) & Leah Ryan (Carlow)
Participants in the Three County Training 2024
Ladies 60X30 Junior B All-Ireland Championship Finalists: Úna Brophy (Laois) & Clare Conway (Tyrone)