Presidents Award for Peter Heaney

21 March 2012

(Our thanks to Michael McGee Handball Correspondent Hoganstand for the attached article and to Sportsfile for use of the photograph.)

Fenaghs favourite handball son Peter Heaney was presented with the “Gradaim an Uachatarain” Presidents Award by Uachtaran Chumann Luthchleas Gael Criostoir O Cuana at a special Croke Park banquet on Friday 16th March last, writes Michael McGee.

In total seventeen winners were presented with the 2012 Presidents Award. The Award winners came from all strands of the Association representing all codes and disciplines from the wider G.A.A family. The annual winners are honoured as long standing GAA volunteers. Christy Cooney congratulated all the award winners. “We are extremely fortunate as an organisation to be able to call on the voluntary effort of so many, so frequently and this event aims to acknowledge a chosen few on behalf of the wider membership,” said Cooney.

Peter Heaneys involvement in handball began in 1974 where he was elected Secretary of the Fenagh club. The club went through many lean years and interest subsequently waned. However in 1989 an resurgence began. In July of that year Heaney together with Sean McKeon from Drumshanbo set about repairing the floor in the alley. Soon after the Leitrim Handball Board was set up and Heaney immersed himself on the Board both as Treasurer, Secretary and serving as Chairman from 2009-2012. In 1991 Heaney became Chairman of the Fenagh Handball Club a position he held for over 20 years. The Fenagh man was Leitrims delegate on the Connacht Handball Council for 10 years before being elected Connacht Handball Council President on 1st March last.

The dedicated official has work tirelessly for handball in Leitrim. A visionary before his time he set up clubs in Carrigallen, Manorhamilton,Cloone, Gortletteragh but unfortunately these clubs did not last long. Heaneys best efforts to have handball in the sports complex in Ballinamore fell through due to lack of interest. The same fate happened with the proposed alley in the Bee Park in Manorhamilton. Undeterred the resilient Heaney carried on and began coaching in the Fenagh Club.

Heaneys endeavour in Fenagh is exceptional. A decade long fundraising project was put in place for the development of the Fenagh Handball Club. His resoluteness, dynamism, energy & can do attitude is incomparable. With Heaneys hallmark the Fenagh court will be officially opened on the 6th May next. The completion of the Fenagh 60 x 30 Court is testament to Heaneys unrelenting drive and determination to achieve what looked like an impossible dream.

Coaching is his passion and has coached many Provincial, All-Ireland winners and a World Champion in Donal Wrynn. Heaney has high hopes that Wrynn will again become a World champion in October when Ireland hosts the World Championships.

In an outstanding career in handball administration the role that gave the celebrated official most satisfaction is “coaching children and watch them grow into wonderful adults.” And the newly elected Connacht Handball Council President Heaney wants to see the implementation of the (GAA Handball Strategic plan 2011- 2016) for the future fulfilled and to bring the game into more schools. “Handball has to be in at least 50% of GAA clubs with better promotion of the game on television and in the papers to glamorise our top players.”

Known as Mr. Handball in Leitrim the GAA Handball fraternity are now calling him St. Peter for all the miracles he has worked for handball in his beloved Leitrim. Heaneys lasting legacy in Leitrim is assured. The affable Fenagh club man will go down in the annals of Leitrim G.A.A Handball as one the Countys finest ever administrators.

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21-Mar-12 by Colette Fox – PRO