Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ladies GAA

The League
Ballymore Ladies met Nurney in their most recent match of the league. The Ladies beat Nurney well in a 4-14 to 2-7 victory in Nurney.Top scorers on the night were Stephanie Hearney And Dawn Murray with Steph clocking up 2-7 and Dawn (c) tallying an impressive two goals and two points. Fran Burke, Aishling Hubbard and Lesley Tutty scored one point each.
Currently Ballymore Ladies are third in the Junior C league behind Rheban first and Balyna second. Ballymore will play second place Balyna in the semi-final with the date of this fixture yet to be confirmed.

The Championship
Ballymore’s 2008 championship got off to a disappointing start on Sunday 31st August, when Ballymore were beaten 6-11 to 4-9 in Johnstown-Bridge. Balyna opened the match with two goals and two points in the first few minutes and the first half was an uphill battle for the Ladies. After a strong pep talk from Simon and the lads, the girls went out in the second half fighting and were by far the superior team in the last 30 minutes. However, it wasn’t to be and Ballymore were defeated in the end. Dawn was top scorer on the night with 1-4 to her credit, Ashling Hubbard, Stephanie Hearney, Fran Burke and Ann-Marie Gorman also added to the scoreboard.
The second match of the Championship took place on Mon 8th September when Balyna won victory over Robert-Emmets by 14 points. With Castledermot unable to field a team, and Balyna with two wins under their belt, the last place in the Championship final will be decided on Sunday 14th September at 12 noon when Ballymore play Robert-Emmets in Sallins. All support is more than welcome.

Welcome Home
All of the Ladies would like to give a big welcome home to Sarah Malone who returned on Saturday 6th last after six months in Boston on a college work placement. We are delighted to have her back. She had a great time but missed the bones of us so flew home a week early for the crucial championship match next Sunday ;).

Get Well Soon
The team have been missing our star mid-fielder Sharon O’Donoghue who hasn’t been well the last few weeks. She’s one of our fastest and fittest players and we can’t wait to her have her back. Get well soon Sharon.
Leaving Certs
Well done to all the girls on the team who got their results in August. Best of luck in their futures. We wish them every success.
Until next month..................Louise & Jackie!!!!

Ballymore-Eustace’s Proud Handball Record (Part 4)

Tom O’Rourke

When he was only 14 years old, Tom O’Rourke was chosen as "the Clubman of the Year” for his achievements in the 1970 County Championships. Tom followed that up by winning the Tailteann U16 doubles with Pius Winder in 1972. Tom has accumulated a long list of "firsts". Writing about Tom in the 1972 Chronicle, I stated: "Better things appear to be in store in the years ahead” and Tom did not let my forecast down.

Tom's first love was softball but he was more than capable at hardball and 40 by 20 handball. In the years 1973 to 1978, Tom made steady progress winning minor, U 21 and junior All-Ireland titles. His success in the 1978 U 22 international trials proved to be the launching pad for his career at senior level. 1979 was a glorious year in Tom's career. It began with his success in the Gael-Linn Cup. This was followed by his historic win in handball's most prestigious competition, the All-Ireland senior soft singles championship, in which he defeated the highly regarded Pakie Ryan in straight games. For good measure, he confirmed that result in the corresponding provincial championship.

In 1980, Tom continued his run of successes by winning the Top Ace competition that was shown on RTE. His game against Gordy Pfeifer of the USA was arguably the best game ever played in the Top Ace series. His defense of his softball singles crown started well with a win over Kilkenny's Paddy Reilly which was followed by a win over four times champion Pat Kirby; Tom had to mount a big comeback after Pat opened an 11-1 lead in the third and final game. Tom eventually won by 21-11, a remarkable achievement against an opponent of Pat's calibre. His next opponent was Pakie Ryan; with Tom leading 15-3 in the second game, things went horribly wrong when Tom suffered a broken blood vessel in his foot and thereafter, could only offer token opposition as Pakie proceeded to win the second and third games.

He looked to be back to his best in 1981 when he qualified for three All-Ireland finals. In the soft singles final against Paddy Reilly, he again suffered an injury which not only lost him that final but was such that he was unable to compete in the other two finals. The extent of his misfortune can be gauged from the fact that his club mates who substituted for him proceeded to win both finals. In 1982, partnered by Michael Dowling he beat the up-and-coming Duxie Walsh and Mick Reade in the Open 40 by 20 club team championship. Tom did not play in the 1982 championship, as he had to undergo an operation for varicose veins. The following year he was still dogged by injury when he went under to Dan Kirby in the soft singles championship. The week of the game he sustained a bad hand cut while lending a helping hand to his elderly neighbours Stephen and Jane O'Connor and the handball authorities would not entertain a postponement of the match.

One suspects that his success in winning the Centenary Open 60 by 30 championship was his most satisfying success. In winning Tom comprehensively defeated the reigning All­ Ireland Coca-Cola and 40 by 20 singles champion Tony Ryan, by 21-10, 21-11. After a succession of mis­fortunes this success meant that Tom had re­-established himself as the top player in Ireland. On Saturday May 5, 1984 Tom proved himself the best in the world when he won the Open 60 by 30 World singles title, winning all four matches comfortably and displayed former confidence, which was a feature of his game when he swept the decks in 1979. The beautiful Waterford Glass trophy which adorns his sideboard was well merited.

Tom's good fortune continued throughout 1984 when he won the All-Ireland soft singles championship for a second time. In the final, he beat Tony Ryan 21-15, 21-17 at Thurles, the birthplace of the GAA. The RTE Top Ace competition also came Tom's way for a second time. These successes marked Tom as the outstanding player in Centenary Year guaranteeing that Tom's achievements will be remembered when the feats of other champions are forgotten. In the years that followed Tom won the All-Ireland senior hard singles in 1985, 1988, 1989, and 1990; for good measure, he won the corresponding doubles titles in 1988 with Padraig McCormack and in 1990 with Michael Dowling. In all, Tom won fourteen All-Ireland medals, nine of which were at senior level.

In the years 1979 to 1990 Tom O'Rourke established himself as our greatest all round player with All-Ireland successes at senior level in all three forms of handball and a World Title in 60 by 30 Softball. Tom was also successful in such prestigious competitions as the Gael-Linn Cup, the Top Ace and the Centenary Open 60 by 30 championship.

His game against Pakie Ryan in the 1979 All-Ireland soft singles final was Tom's finest performance. Tom put on a dazzling display of controlled, error free handball that was equal to the best handball I have seen before or since. His clashes with Duxie Walsh from 1985 to 1989, although unsuccessful, served to further enhance Tom's reputation.

Tom was competitive, had superb footwork and was agile around the alley. His anti­cipation was excellent as was his ability to improvise. A most impressive action photo of Tom is to be found in the introductory section of Tom McElligott's Book on Handball.

© Matt Purcell (August 13, 2008)

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