Handball Heroes of Connacht – Mary Shanley & Fenagh
The Provincial Award winners have all been announced and now its time to get the glad rags on for the GAA Handball National All-Star Awards Banquet on Friday 4th December. Connachts 14 nominees are eagerly awaiting the Awards night, with some top names amongst the list.
Player of the Year nominee, Mayos Dessie Keegan, has been one of the top senior handballers over the past few years and this year joined forces with Joe McCann to dethrone reigning champions, Cavans Paul Brady and Michael FinnÓgan in the Senior 40×20 Doubles Final.
"It was a very exceptional year for me winning the Senior Doubles with Joe, but I suppose it was how we won the final, and who we defeated that made it really special," said Keegan.
"Michael (FinnÓgan) and Paul (Brady) are two world class players, and only a handful of people have ever Brady, so it was an unbelievable win for us."
Connacht handball had a very successful 2009 and hosted one of the most memorable events of the year, the One-Wall Nationals, in Breaffy House, Castlebar.
"It was a superb event and I think it showed everyone what can happen when new ideas are brought to the table," said Keegan. "
Connacht has the potential to be a very strong province in handball and there is plenty of untapped talent here; the Roadshow earlier in the year proved that."
Awarding talent will be top of the agenda on December 5th, and all five Connacht counties will be represented on the night. Following her All-Ireland Junior success, Leitrims Mary Shanley is the provinces Female Player of the Year. Her club, Fenagh, is also nominated for the Club of the Year Award, following a very successful 12 months for them.
Mayo have Stephen Cooney and Pauline Gallagher as the Young Player of the Year nominees in the male and female categories and both players had outstanding success in 2009. Masters Player of the Year Award in Connacht went to Pat Hopkins (Mayo) who collected his first All-Ireland title earlier in the year.
Galways Martin Mulkerrins, who brought home two World Championship titles from Portland, is the Youth Player of the Year nominee, while fellow double world champion, Roscommons Lauren O Riordan is the Female Youth Player of Year nominee.
The National Awards Banquet will be a very special occasion, honouring many of the stars and many dedicated individuals within the sport from every province and the Connacht Official of the Year Award went to Galways Tony Audley, from the Moycullen club. Clubperson of the Year went to the well-deserving, Tadhg Ó Churraidhín from Galway, who has worked tirelessly in his club, Cumann Michael Breathnach.
Coach of the Year went to Newports Liam Burke, who has been a stalwart of handball in Mayo for many years, while Sligos Paddy Walsh is the Special Achievement Nominee. Hall of Fame winner in Connacht is Galways Mike Keady, and the Connacht Team of the Year went to the Ballymoe Junior Interclub Team, following their All-Ireland success in 2009.
26-Nov-09 by GAAHandball.ie