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Chair hosts reception in honour of Loughmacrory Féile na nGael teams

30th August 2019

On Tuesday 27 August 2019, Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Siobhán Currie hosted a reception at the Grange, Omagh in honour of Loughmacrory Féile na nGael teams.

Speaking at the reception, Councillor Currie said:

“Mar Cathaoirleach na Comhairle Cheantair Fhear Manach agus na hÓmaí, ba mhaith liom fáilte a thabhairt romhaibh chun oifigí Comhairle anocht.

As Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, I am delighted to welcome you all to the Council offices this evening.

I would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to the members of the successful Loughmacrory Féile na nGael teams who achieved All Ireland success.

In June the 40 x 20 team won the All Ireland Division 1 Féile na nGael Handball title. This was the third All Ireland Division 1 Féile Handball title to come to Loughmacrory with the club having been successful previously in 1984 and 2003.

The winning streak continued at the weekend when the Club lifted the Premier Féile na nGael GAA Division 1 60 x 30 title in Wexford and made history by being the only Club to claim the unique Premier Double in the same year. These outstanding achievements this year are even more special as the Club celebrates its 60th Anniversary this year.

I understand that the Féile competition is one of the most prestigious competitions in the National Handball Calendar with 87 clubs competing across 9 divisions for the coveted All Ireland title in their respective division with the Division 1 title, of course being the blue riband event.

In June, Fermoy in Co Cork was the setting for the climax of the competition. Victories over Clare champions Tuamgraney and Galway’s Abbeyknockmoy together with draws against Cavan champions Kingscourt and Kilkenny representatives, Kells, in the Round Robin section saw you qualify for a shot at the title with a rematch against Kingscourt in an All Ulster showdown.

I am told that Kingscourt went in to the final as slight favourites and Eoin McElholm and Dearbhail Fox took to the court first for Loughmacrory. Despite a superb start, Kingscourt eventually reeled you in and took the first game. This brought team captain, Gary McAleer and his partner Ruairi McCullagh to the court and following a blistering display, they powered to an easy win, securing the title for the club.

At the weekend, the Finals took place in Taghmon in Wexford an victories over Kells (Kilkenny), Moycullen (Galway), Abbeyside (Waterford), Clogh (Kilkenny) and Taghmon (Wexford) followed by a Premier All Ireland final victory over Kells secured the title. I would like to particularly mention, Gary McAleer, who not only captained both teams but he also won the All Ireland Skills Award Gold medal in Wexford.

Loughmacrory has been to the forefront in handball not only in the county and at provincial level but also at national and international level for well over 100 years. Indeed this year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the first covered court at Loughmacrory. Today, the club boasts the only facility in the north which can accommodate all three handball codes, 40 x 20, 60 x 30 and one-wall.

Indeed, in July, the club played host to over 220 players from 19 countries in one of the largest handball tournaments in Europe, which is not only a huge endorsement of the club and the facilities but is also a great boost for the district.

Over the years club players have amassed a significant number of titles at Ulster, All Ireland and World level and I am delighted that this run of success continues unabated. Indeed the club has claimed 23 All Ireland titles in the last year alone. It is, in my view, testament to the work the coaches and the committee put in to ensure that the sport continues to thrive and develop in Loughmacrory.

I would like to congratulate, both teams on their tremendous success and on your behalf can I extend my gratitude to your coach Kenny Curran, who invests so much time and effort into ensuring that you are primed and ready for the challenges of competition.

You have been wonderful ambassadors not only for your club, your families and the people of Loughmacrory, but also for your district and on behalf of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, can I say how proud we are of you and your achievements.

I am delighted to have been afforded the opportunity to publicly acknowledge your success through this evening’s reception and it just remains for me to wish you continued success in your handball careers in the future.