Report from 3rd Kelly Memorial Handball Tournament – CLG Chloich Cheann Fhaola - Falcarragh
Venue: Pinniúr Liathróid Láimhe Cloich Cheann Fhaola CLG
Cloughaneely GAA Handball alley - Tír Chonaill
Donegal find silver linings in heavy defeat at Kelly Memorial Tournament
The last minute withdrawal of Balleybofey handballers and an injury to vastly experienced Glenties man Dave Mulhearn left a Donegal select handball team with an almost impossible task in trying to retain Cloughaneely GAA’s Kelly Memorial trophy, held in August every year.
The Kelly trophy - Comórtas Chuimhneacháin Uí Cheallaigh – is played at the alley which the Kelly family built at the Cloughaneely grounds and is now in its third year. Cumann Naomh Pól of Antrim won the inaugural trophy in 2017 and Donegal claimed it back last year. Donegal failed to win any of their three doubles and two singles games this time round. However there were some big positives for Donegal on the day. With all games fought over 25 points, rising handball star Odhrán McGlynn of CLG Ghleann Fhinne (Glenfin) teamed up with Cloughaneely’s Paul Larkin to almost snatch an unlikely victory from clear favourites Aidan Devine and Dean Fox for Antrim.
The Donegal Gaeltacht men were 2-15 down at one point, only to fight back to within five points of an unlikely victory. The strong performance of Cloughaneely newcomer Peadar Ó Domhnaill also gave grounds for future optimism. And to cap it all, former Falcarragh handball stalwart John McCallion made a welcome return to the handball scene by refereeing the U-21s challenge game, which saw visiting handballer Sam Dunning from County Cork take the spoils. Dunning was also awarded the ‘Sár-Imreoir an Chomórtais’ prize – player of the tournament - for a brilliant display.
The attendance of handballers from Conna handball club, close to the Waterford border in County Cork, was another boost for Cloughaneely handball. The whole point of the O’ Kelly tournament was to get Falcarragh handball back on the handball map and, after three successful tournaments, it can be safely said that the initial objective has been achieved. Attention will now turn to much needed renovation of this famous alley, so that a modern, self contained alley and facilities can be ready for next year’s tournament.