Loughmacrory Community played host to the 5th annual Showdown Tournament last weekend and the international flair emanating throughout this high profile annual Tournament, which again attracted players from outside of Ireland, including England and Belgium, was to the fore again as players from 22 counties throughout Ireland also travelled to lay claim to one of the prestigious titles on offer.
This event has grown into one of the biggest Tournaments in Europe and looks set to get bigger and better again into the future as the new European Pro Wallball Tour gathers pace going into 2019. For now the numbers and quality was as high as at any time in the past with 288 matches played in a frenetic weekend, which was enhanced by amazing weather and a packed arena of spectators by the wonderful Lakeside venue.
Four times Men’s Irish National Open Champion, Conor McElduff, was once again the star turn as he delivered a series of sensation displays which maintained a 100% winning record across all events in 2018 and also saw him net a record 3rd Showdown Open crown. A semi-final victory over Tipperary’s James Prentice was followed by one of the best exhibitions the game has seen on the courts when he overcame Limerick’s All Ireland Senior runner-up, Paudi Quish, on a 25-12 scoreline.
McElduff is one of a fancied group of players travelling from Ireland to the World Championships in Minnesota, USA, this coming August as he bids to become the first Irish player ever to win the World Men’s Open One Wall Singles Championship title. In a year in which he has won Spanish, Dutch and Irish Open titles and finished European Number 1 player, in addition to winning every Tournament he has played in, there is a rising possibility of that record Worlds success transpiring.
“I love the Lough showdown Tournament. After the Irish Nationals every year, it is the event everyone in one wall handball wants to compete in and win. This year’s competition was no different with massive crowds, hundreds of players and spectators and every game was tough throughout. It is a great building block for the Worlds in August. That has been my target all season and I will completely focus in now on trying to win that first ever World Open Singles Championship title for Team Ireland” commented the Tyrone man.
Armagh’s Megan McCann added her second Lough Wallball showdown title to her impressive growing roll of honour. McCann was dominant throughout the competition and had to show top form in the final to deny local rising star, Mairead Fox, by 25-11 in the final. Fox is travelling to the World Championships, along with McCann, in August as part of Team Ireland and at just 15 years of age, showed terrific skill and power in her first excursion into Open handball.
Junior grades thrill
The Junior grades at the 2018 Lough Showdown provided some immense thrilling action once again too. Gavin Kelly (Galway), Kyle Jordan (Kilkenny), Mikey Kelly (Galway) and Cahir Munroe (Tyrone) came away with the top Boys Junior titles this year while Lucy McCullagh (Tyrone), Katie Jordan (Kilkenny), Emma Kinane (Galway) and Noelle Dowling (Kilkenny) secured the Girls Junior honours this time around.
At adult level the ladies titles went the way of Maeve McElduff (A Singles), Michelle McCoy (B Singles), Eilish Owens (C Singles) and Catherine Kelly (Challenger) while Ben Devlin (Louth) took the Mens A honours and Conor Walsh (Cork) picked up the Mens B Singles. Brian McAleer (Tyrone) was the Men’s C Singles winner and Christopher McKenna (Monaghan) won the Men’s Challenger title from one of the biggest fields of the weekend.
At Masters level it was Paul Graham (Antrim) who picked up the 35+ honours while Chris Curran (Tyrone) took the Silver Masters honours and Brian Havern (Down) won the Diamond Masters title.
Overakll, it was another spectacular weekend of action in what is the Loughmacrory GAA Handball club’s 50th year of celebrations. An impressive total of 224 players competed across the grades on the weekend as 100s flocked to the venue over the three days to take in the action. Next up for the Club will be supporting two young players, Mairead and Dearbhail Fox, who travel to compete in the World Handball championships in Minnesota (USA) in August prior to the launch and re-opening of the 60×30 court as part of the new-look Community Centre development project.
A ‘Night of Celebration’ is planned for October 2018 as all past and current members, players and officials will be invited to come together to look back on the 50 years since the formation of the first official committee and the launch of the Club’s new book “150 Years of GAA Handball and Counting”.
In a year when another highly successful Showdown event has taken place in addition to a potential record haul of All Ireland winning medals and players, with the possibility of more to come, the Loughmacrory club’s continued development for the years ahead looks very much assured too.
LOUGH WALLBALL SHOWDOWN 2018 RESULTS:
- Mens Open final: Conor McElduff (Tyrone) bt Paudi Quish (Limerick) 25-12
- Ladies Open final: Megan McCann (Armagh) bt Mairead Fox (Tyrone) 25-11
- Mens A Final: Ben Devlin (Louth) bt Sean Kerr (Tyrone) 25-12
- Mens B Singles Final: Conor Walsh (Cork) bt Luke Stradwick (England) 22-11
- Masters Singles Final: Paul Graham (Antrim) bt Billi Cadell (Louth) 25-9
- Silver Masters Singles Final: Chris Curran (Tyrone) bt Finbarr Fullen (Tyrone) 25-8
- Diamond Masters Singles Final: Brian Havern (Down) bt Tony Caddell (Antrim) 15-6
- Mens C Singles Final: Brian McAleer (Tyrone) bt Liam O’Ceallaigh (Roscommon) 25-4
- Mens Challenger Singles Final: Christopher McKenna (Monaghan) bt Niall Toner (Tyrone) 20-14
- Ladies A Final: Maeve McElduff (Tyrone) bt Clare Conway (Tyrone) 25-11
- Ladies B Final: Michelle McCoy (Down) bt Eilish Owens (Tyrone) 25-12
- Mens Contender Singles Final: Shaun Murnin (Down) bt Stephen McCann (Down) 14-11
- Masters B Singles Final: Barrie McCoy (Down) bt Stuart Heslin (Louth) 20-9
- Silver Masters B Singles Final: Shane Kelly (Down) bt George Millar (Mayo) 18-16
- Ladies C Final: Eilish Owens (Tyrone) bt Catherine Kelly (Tyrone) 19-10
- Ladies Challenger Final: Catherine Kelly (Tyrone) bt Jenny Mahon (Longford) 25-9
- Boys Under 10 Doubles Final: James Cunningham (Monaghan) & Ryan McGeough (Monaghan bt Odhran Curran (Tyrone) & Pearse McDonald (Tyrone) 21-15
- Girls Under 10 Final: Lucy McCullagh (Tyrone) bt Alice McGlinchey (Tyrone) 21-14
- Boys 11 & Under Final: Gavin Kelly (Galway) bt Shea Munroe (Tyrone) 25-6
- Boys 13 & Under Final: Kyle Jordan (Kilkenny) bt Seán Callan (Monaghan) 25-10
- Boys 15 & Under Final: Mikey Kelly (Galway) bt Jack Darcy (Tyrone) 25-6
- Boys 17 & Under Final: Cahir Munroe (Tyrone) bt Jason O Toole (Galway) 18-15
- Girls 11&U Final:Katie Jordan (Kilkenny) bt Laura Duff (Tyrone) 19-19, 5-1
- Girls 13&U Final: Emma Kinane (Galway) bt Dearbhail Fox (Tyrone) 25-14
- Girls 15&U Final: Noelle Dowling (Kilkenny) bt Siobhan Prentice (Tipperary) 22-14
- Boys Under 10 B Doubles Final: Caolan Grimes (Tyrone) & Dabhan Meenagh (Tyrone) bt Tarlach Tracey (Tyrone) & Conor Haughey (Tyrone) 21-18
- Boys 11 & Under B Final: Sean Kennedy (Tyrone) bt Joseph Curran (Tyrone) 25-9
- Boys 13 & Under B Final: Conor Fox (Tyrone) bt Charlie Merron (Antrim) 22-12
- Boys 15 & B Under Final: Ryan O Toole (Galway) bt Cormac Finn (Sligo) 17-12
- Boys 17 & Under B Final: Conor Keeley (Louth) bt Pearse Dobbs (Tyrone) 19-14
- Girls Under 10 B Final: Alice McGlinchey (Tyrone) bt Ellen McCoy (Down)21-16
- Girls 11&U B Final: Caislin Tracey (Tyrone) bt Claragh Laverty (Down) 25-5
- Girls 13&U B Final: Aoife Kerr (Tyrone) bt Dearbhla White (Down) 25-9
- Girls 15&U B Final: Sarah Walsh (Cork) bt Deirbhile O’Neill (Antrim) 25-8
1. Loughmacrory Club Chairman, Chris Curran, presents Mens Open Champion, Conor McElduff, and runner-up, Paudi Quish at the climax of the 2018 Lough Wallball Showdown.
2. Club PRO, Kenny Curran, presents Ladies Open Champion and runner-up, Megan McCann and Mairead Fox
3. Some of the Mens Open players who competed in the 2018 Lough Wallball Showdown enjoying the lakeside surroundings including Team UK players, Dan Grant, Luke Stradwick and Luke Thompson, who travelled over from London for the event.
4 Competitors from the Lough Wallball Showdown welcome Power NI as Official Ball Sponsors for the Tournament. Pictured: Youth Players alongside Power NI representative, Georgia Galway, and Loughmacrory GAA Handball Club Chairman, Chris Curran.
Spectators and young players enjoying the Lough Showdown Weekend.