Bumper year in ball alleys
A well-attended GAA Handball County Convention at St. Joseph's Community Centre on Monday heard of a bumper season for Wexford players, with a record number of successes spread right across age groups and grades.
Acting County Secretary Tony Breen reported on the winning of five world titles, 18 All-Ireland titles and 47 Leinster titles, and said 2015 had been one of the most successful in the long and cherished history of handball in Wexford.
He pointed out that Wexford had ended the season as the top county in Ireland, with the most adult All-Ireland titles won.
'The winning of five world titles, 18 All-Ireland titles and 47 Leinster titles will make for joyous reading for the players and clubs of the county, but when you also take into account the 15 All-Ireland finals and 28 Leinster finals lost by Wexford players, the full extent of the success we enjoyed emerges,' he said.
'Indeed, those 17 championship wins in particular contain a far more impressive statistic when broken down into the various grades.
'Under 12-13 team of six, Minor, Under-21, Junior, Intermediate, Colleges Senior singles, Over-35 'A' and Masters 'A' are all premier grades within the sport, and to be successful simultaneously at those levels in particular requires a large number of players to be in top form at the right time of the year.
'The spread of success was noteworthy too, as ten of our 15 clubs (66%) had at least one All-Ireland medal winner, while an impressive twelve clubs (80%) enjoyed success at provincial level. It confirms very strongly that handball thrived from Horeswood in the south to Coolgreany in the north and it augurs well for the future as a whole,' he added.
In complimenting all who were successful, he urged delegates not to forget those who were less so, saying 'for many others though sport is about enjoyment and while winning undoubtedly increases their level of enjoyment, losing does not detract sufficiently for it to matter more than the reason they got involved in the first place: enjoyment!
'For the many who did not end the season with a winner's medal, life goes on as before and amidst all the justified celebrations, we should not forget those who make up the majority of our registered members.'
He cited the county championship format as the reason for much of the success.
'Our county championship format provided the inspiration and motivation to bring the best out of our players.
'Those who had the ability to benefit from such a system did so very effectively at inter-county level in 2015, and we warmly congratulate them on the magnitude of their achievement.'
In those county championships, Castlebridge were most successful in 60 x 30, while Kilmyshall ended the season as the top 40 x 20 club. St. Joseph's finished with most titles in the Juvenile championships.
Reference was also made in the report to the success of the new Wexford GAA Handball website - www.gaahandballwexford.ie - which is averaging 10,000 clicks per month and is now the main source of information regarding fixtures etc. for clubs and players.
Delegates also discussed a section of the annual report dealing with the difficulty in filling positions on the county committee, and when the elections took place at the end of the meeting that was borne out yet again with several positions remaining unfilled.
Those elected were: Chairman, Ricky Barron (outgoing); Vice-Chairman, none; Secretary, Tony Breen remains on in an acting capacity; Treasurer, Marie Murphy (outgoing); P.R.O., none; Children's Officer, Virginia Rossiter (outgoing); Youth Officer, none; Coaching Officer, none; Development Officer, Tony Breen; representative to County GAA Board, Ger Sweeney (outgoing); Juvenile committee Chairman, Robert Doyle (outgoing); Juvenile committee Secretary, Barry McWilliams (outgoing).
An attempt will now be made to fill the remaining positions when the county committee meets again on January 4.
Chairman Ricky Barron welcomed Taghmon Handball Club back into the fold after a long absence and expressed the hope that they would again see the glory days enjoyed back in the '70s when Pat Murphy and John Quigley were winning All-Ireland Senior titles.