Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ballymore Eustace Proud Handball Record – Part 12

P.J. McGrath, who was a good two-handed player, was the first Ballymore Eustace player to win the All-Ireland Under 16 soft singles title when he won that championship in 1989. P.J. is a son of Joe who was himself a good handballer as was his Uncle Mick who represented the Club in the minor championships in the fifties. Following a stint in Australia, P.J. works in London.

Daragh Ward won the 1994 All-Ireland minor hard singles title and two years later he teamed up with Trevor Winder to win the Under 21 soft doubles title. Daragh's success in the minor hard singles was particularly impressive as it was achieved at the expense of the highly rated Cavan player Michael Finnegan. In 2002, Daragh won the All-Ireland junior hard singles title.
Frank Dooley and his daughter Maura have been involved in the Club for many years and live over at the Curragh. Maura has been successful in racquetball while Frank has achieved All-Ireland success in 1996 and again in 1998. Both his successes were gained in singles and both were first time successes for the Club. In 1996 Frank won the Emerald Masters "B" Soft Singles and in 1998 he won the Diamond Masters "B" 40 by 20 Singles. In 1999 Frank reached the All-Ireland final against Roscommon's Michael Naughton.

Dermot Howard and Anthony Campbell won the 1998 Golden Masters "B" Soft Doubles and Golden Masters "B" 40 by 20 Doubles - both successes were firsts for the Club.

On top of our All-Ireland successes our players have won many provincial and county titles. But for the scourge of immigration our successes could have been greater. Lost to handball in this way were: the late Tommy Leahy; the late Willie Grace; the late Dan Murphy; the late Jim Bolger; Liam and Joe Evans; Eddie Whelan and Tom Doran, Michael and Jack Winters, Seamie Curran; Tony Daly; Pat Clarke; Peter and George McGuire; the late Mick Tackaberry; the Daly brothers, Ray, Dessie and the late Jerome Lynch; John and Gerry Kelly; Jack Boylan and the late Joe Nugent.

Apart from our All-Ireland winners in the above list, Michael and Jack Winters displayed considerable promise while Peter McGuire and Pat Clarke were especially use­ful players. Pat Clarke was a very good softball player who had a high degree of ball control. The late Joe Nugent was a son of the late Tommy Nugent of Ballybough and Joe represented the Club on many occasions after returning from England.

Successes such as our Club has enjoyed require a lot of hard work. Credit for these successes must go to the following: the late Ned O'Rourke (Senior), the late Pat Connor, the late Jimmy McGrath, the late Jim Byrne, the late Jack McGee, the late Myles McGee, the late Peter Nugent, the late Myles Lawlor (Senior), the late Christy Byrne, the late Bernard Purcell and the late Mick McDonald,

Others who helped were: the late Mickey, Margaret and Michael Dowling, Bobbie Grattan, Jim Doyle (Sillagh), the late Mel Sullivan, Billy Doran, Seamie Curran, Tony Evans, the late Paddy Monaghan, the late Willie, the late Brigid and James Purcell, the late Eddie and the late Maisie Deegan, Eamonn Deegan, Ned Deegan, Bren Hennessy, Joe Marshall, the late Joe Nugent, the late John Deegan, Martin Deegan, Anthony and Mary Campbell, Larry Glancy, Barry Slattery, Billy Gobbett, John Browne, Tom Geoghegan, Pius Winder, Vincent Kavanagh, Tom and Rita O'Rourke, Tom O'Rourke, Jim Clarke, Margaret Pearse and Ollie Deegan.

The truth is everyone in the area at one time or another has lent a helping hand as an example of this I came across an old notebook relating to the sixties and found that John Queally, the late Johnny Murphy and the late Tom Hanlon amongst others helped out with transport in connection with a flag day way back then.

Hardball which was originally the premier form of handball and which up to the early sixties, was accorded equal standing with softball has had a precarious existence since then. Ballymore Eustace has supplied most of the recent hard­ball makers. These were the late Tommy Byrne, the late Joe McDonald, the late Paddy Nolan, the late Jim Evans and Anthony and Mary Campbell. In addi­tion to the above people who have made hard­balls over a long number of years the Club is indebted to the late Eddie and Martin Deegan, Mark Doyle, the late Paddy Monaghan and John Browne all of whom have done their bit to keep the game alive. Despite setbacks, hardball continues to survive.

Apologies: I forgot Eamonn Deegan’s second All-Ireland success with John Browne in 2000. Ollie Deegan’s two All-Ireland wins with Pat Coffey of Moone were achieved in 2002 and not 1992.

© Matt Purcell (May 28, 2009)

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