Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ballymore Eustace Proud Handball Record – Part 11

Greg Lawler won his first All-Ireland in 1963 at the age of fourteen. Subsequently he added a further six medals, two of which were in senior hard doubles. For a time Greg held the distinction of being our top medal winner. Greg had a devastating left hand service which made short work of the opposition. He was certainly in the mould of the old style hard­baller relying on the big service and dead "kill". Although Greg had a 14 year career he was still only 28 when he won his last medal.

Greg's brother John also represented Kildare in minor hard doubles partnered by Larry Glancy and reached the Leinster final. Judy Lawler actively supported and encouraged Greg and John in their handball efforts and boasted of being well able to play the game herself as a young girl. Judy also praised Fanny Nugent's handballing abilities. When they had their shop Jack and Judy kindly allowed the Club to advertise their matches and other functions in the shop window.

Tom Geoghegan added colour to the handball scene. He first made his mark in the minor hard doubles championship in 1963 and enjoyed a consider­able degree of success over the next nine years culminating in a junior hard doubles success in 1972. On top of his successes in the provincial and All-Ireland championships Tom won two All-Army hardball titles and in fact he was the reigning champion when these championships were discontinued in 1966.

Anthony Campbell has All-Ireland medals to his credit in hard­ball, 40 by 20 and softball in all he has won a total of 8 medals. Anthony was a very strong server who was fond of the "kill" shot. He has contributed to the administration of the club over a long number of years and was the driving force behind the recent replacement of the floor in the 60 by 30 alley. His wife Mary has also played handball but was mainly a racquetball player. Their children Laura and Donal both played racquetball. Sadly Donal died in August 1993 when he was only 19 years of age. Anthony and Mary were also very useful badminton players.

Eamonn Deegan in partnership with John Browne won the 1969 All-Ireland junior hard doubles title following a number of very close games. In 1973 Eamonn, Paddy Monaghan and myself joined the Na Fianna Handball club in their history making tour of the East Coast of America. The most notable places visited were the New York Athletic Club and the West Point Military Academy. Over the years Eamonn has con­tributed his fair share on the administrative side both at Club and County Board levels. In 1978 Eamonn upgraded the lighting system in the 60 by 30 alley.

Eamonn's father and mother, Eddie and Maisie Deegan, have done their bit for Ballymore handball. Eddie helped keep the game of hardball alive as did his son, Martin, while Maisie helped with the catering for our open hardball doubles tournament from 1972 to 1980. Ollie Deegan has performed with credit in all three forms of handball and has contested 4 All-Ireland finals 3 in doubles and one in singles. Outright success came Ollie’s way in 1992 when himself and Pat Coffey of Moone won two doubles titles. Over the years, Ollie has helped on the administration side as Club Secretary. Martin had a successful partnership with John Deegan and won many County titles.

Peter and George McGuire were both more than useful players and I recall Peter giving Billy Doran many a hard game at a time when Billy was playing top class handball. George has the distinction of being the first player I played in the minor soft singles trials way back in 1957 when the game went the full distance and I was very proud of the fact that I came out on top. In 1981, George was a member of the team which won the All-Ireland 40 by 20 Inter Club Novice championship for the first and so far only time.

© Matt Purcell (March 24, 2009)

Matt’s Memories
Harney of Eadestown
Recently, I got talking to a Harney lady of Eadestown. Talking to Ms Harney brought me back in time to my school days when an Eadestown Harney was in class with me in Naas. Mistakingly, I said I was in school with Lorcan Harney but in fact it was Larry Harney I knew. Larry now lives near Hollywood and from time to time I see him - usually he is working.
Ms Harney lamented the passing of Fr Breen who had been P.P. in Eadestown for about 8 years before joining us here in Ballymore Eustace.
Mary and Margaret
Throughout the life of the Handball Development Committee Mary Campbell was its Secretary. Mary first served under Tom O’Rourke (Senior) as Chairman and subsequently Tom Geoghegan took over as Chairman when Tom became the Fas Manager. When the Management Committee replaced the Development Committee, Mary was its Secretary – a position she held on the Management Committee for most of the 1990s (The late Paddy Monaghan was its Chairman).

Mary was joined by Margaret Pearse as Treasurer of the Management Committee in the early nineties and the pair of them along with Paddy made a successful team.
Having served as Treasurer of that Committee for about three years I can vouch for the difficulty of the job undertaken by Margaret – a position she held for years.
Club Person of the Year – Ladies GAA
I was delighted to see from the last Bugle that Caroline Swords was selected as Club Person of the Year by the Ladies GAA. Having experienced Caroline’s kindness, I was not surprised by her success.
Handball Fans
I gather both Eamonn Deegan and Billy Gobbett are still involved in promoting handball. Billy is now the Treasurer of the Committee. Recently, Eamonn’s wife Liz underwent treatment at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.
Bugle and Leader
Marie Lennon was attending to me at Janet’s and, as usual, did a very good job on looking after me. Another present at the time was Joan Mooney. Joan is very active in community matters and I recall her being involved in badminton, swimming and hunting. As a nurse, Joan annually does duty on the ambulance at the Punchestown Point-to-Point.
On Passing By
As I was taking the sun at Ballymore Eustace, Evelyn McGrath passed by; at the distance, I did not recognise her friends but I suspect they were relations of her.
The Winders
A number of fishermen were returning home. One of them was Cecil Winder who came in to greet me. Cecil was one of our top handball players and I had not seen him in a long time. In between time, I had my stroke while Cecil’s brother Robin died. We had a good chat; Cecil is now living in Galway where he tells me he recently met fellow handballer Paddy Delaney of Kilkenny who is now a developer and getting on well. Cecil was accompanied by his nephew Trevor and a grandson.
The Kavanaghs
Reading Tim’s Diary I see the Kavanaghs, now in Perth, were in Ireland for Christmas. While I did not know Peter or Julie I did know both of their parents. Peter is a son of Marie nee Marshall of Assumpta Terrace and Peter (Senior). The family used to live at Brannockstown but now live in Wexford. In days gone, we passed Peter (Senior) as he went by bicycle to Naas Secondary School. Marie, for her part, was into Irish Dancing and gave lessons in it. Julie’s parents are Anne and Joe Curran, the latter with whom I attended school in Naas. More recently, I meet Joe and Anne at the Curragh, Naas and Punchestown races.
Galway’s Three-in-a-Row
In 1963, 1964 and 1965 Galway won three All-Ireland GAA football titles-in-a-row. It was my good fortune to have known three members of that team. I stayed in “digs”in Baggot Street with their full forward, Sean Cleary, for a period around about that time. Through Sean, I got to know the late Enda Colleran. For years Enda was a GAA commentator on TV. In 1964, Christy Tyrrell, who was also on the team, played for UCG handballers against UCD handballers with whom I was playing.
Sadly, Galway’s Frankie Stockwell died recently. Frankie was on the successful All-Ireland winning team of 1956 – he and the late Sean Purcell excelled that day.
The March Bugle carried the news of the death of Joseph (Joe) Nugent at Naas Hospital R.I.P. Over the years, Joe was very keen on handball and played it both before and after he returned from England. He represented Kildare in handball on a number of occasions. His late father, Tommy, like Joe was also fond of handball and was a contemporary of the late great Tommy Leahy. Joe also served on the handball committee.

Achilla (Gillian) Rowley (nee Fletcher), of Eadestown, Naas died on Feb. 28, 2009 at home R.I.P. Her husband, Peter, sons Peter and Ronan, daughters-in-law Ruth and Gloria, grandsons, Darragh, Kealan, Max and Sam, sister Mary, brother Tom, brother-in-law Richard, nieces, nephews and relatives survive Gillian. In 1948, when ‘Summer Star’ won the Leopardstown Chase for my father and uncle, it was Gillian’s late mother who broke the news to my late mother who was out walking us, her children. When Gillian’s eldest brother Willie died aged only 14 in March 1950, we were all shocked at his passing. More recently, her brother John died.
I just learnt of the death of Willie Rackard of Wexford last night (March 23/24). Willie was one of three outstanding Wexford hurling brothers who excelled at hurling in the fifties and won All-Ireland medals with Wexford.
© Matt Purcell (March 24, 2009)

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