Corduff Handball Club in Monaghan was one of the first two Clubs nationally to achieve Club Iontach Gold Status. We take an in depth look at the Club and it's history.
Corduff is small rural area in the parish of Magheross. The Parish of Magheross boasts of 2 GAA Clubs, Carrickmacross Emmets the urban club and Corduff Gaels GFC in the rural end of the parish. Corduff is a small rural Community with a population of approx. 1000 people in 33 town lands. The history of the club dates back to the early 1900’s, with its first County Junior football success in 1926. The Club also competed in Junior finals in 1937 and 1947. The club went out of existence in the 1950’s due to emigration, but was revived in 1968 by a new Committee Brian McDermott, Michele Connolly, Pat Gilsenan, Tommy Marron & other Stallworth’s with the Community. The Club had no playing facilities so they trained in a local field owned by John Nelson. The Club went through rough times, not winning a game for 3 years but eventually found success when young players started to come through. Despite the lack of success on the football pitch the club wanted to build its own facilities. In the 30’s & 40’s Handball was played by local handballers in Bawn 60*30 alley and Michael McKitterick 60*30 alley outside Carrickmacross. The first Handball alley in South Monaghan was built in carrickmacross by George McKitterick, a keen Handballer. He built the Alley on his own land and it was registered with the County Board. Young George McKitterick, his Grandson today carries on the family tradition in not only playing with the club but is also Club Treasurer.
In 1980 the Community Council was formed with representation from all local organisation’s with the view of building a Community Centre, football field and handball alley.
On 29th May 1983 the football pitch & Community Centre was officially opened, this was a very joyful day for the community as it represented all the hard work from all its members. On Completion of the Community Centre and football field, work commenced on the 40*20 handball alley which was housed in the community Centre with a view to opening the handball alley in the Centenary year of the GAA.
Community Centre & Handball Alley Build – 1983/1984
Members of Community Council laying foundations
The Handball alley was built by members of the Community Council, the then officers of the Community Council, Peadar Marron, Jim Joe Walsh, Gene Marron, Maura Smith, Frank Smith, Peter Brennan, Tommy Marron. In its day the Handball alley was regarded as the top alley with the County. With Solid Maple floors and Glass back wall, viewing area and full changing facilities. Once the Handball Club got up and going the Club formed its own committee, Peter Brennan, George McKitterick Snr, Sean Marron, Loretto Sheridan, Peadar Marron & Peter Owen Fealy. The Club competed in Senior and Juvenile competitions throughout the year with varying degrees of Success. Peter Brennan, Peter Owen Fealy and James Gavaghan were the key players with success in County & Ulster over the coming years.
In 1996 Eddie Higgins became the official Youth Trainer and discovered some new talent. A number of County titles were won by players such as, George McKitterick, David Marron, Ciaran Brennan & Niall Reilly. Training continued up until 2002 but unfortunately the Club went into decline up until 2015 this was due to a Lack from of membership and alley suffered from lack of maintenance. A special thanks must be given to Peter Brennan and Loretto Sheridan for all their hard work during this period to keep handball alive in the area. If not for their efforts the Club would not be still in existence.
Around the turn of the century the Community also suffered from a rapid decline in population which effected all clubs within the area. In 2003 a massive effort was put in by the Community Association to revamp the Community centre and build a new social Club (Mountain Dew), kitchen facilities and playschool. The extension and renovation of the community centre acted as a catalyst for Community involvement and in turn attracted new families into the community. Within a 15-year period the Community population had doubled. In this Period the GAA Football Club had built 2 new Prunty pitches and a running track.. In that period a hosing estate was built opposites the Community Centre. An added interest in handball developed within the community.
In 2014 a new committee was formed with a view to rebuild the club and try to make the game of handball more attractive to all age groups. The New Committee members introduced was Niall Reilly, Ciaran Brennan, Aidan Marron, George McKitterick & Gareth King.
With the help of a number grants and continuous fundraising by club members the club successfully renovated the Handball Alley. This in turn helped to introduce new members to the club.
In the years following coaching was introduced by committee members and taken to a new level when they hired a head coach Pat Sheridan. Pat’s involvement has helped the club to grow and develop the skills and confidence of youth players, to enable them to compete with neighbouring well established clubs like Kingscourt, Monaghan & Tydavnet.Since then 8 of our current committee members have successfully completed the foundation level coaching course.
Coaching takes place every Wednesday & Friday night from September through to March. The training is split up into 5 groups. 2 qualified coaches along with our head Coach attend each training session in order to help out and improve their own skills as a coach. The Future of Juvenille handball in the club looks promising.
The Club currently have 47 Adult members and 48 juvenile members.
- 2019 Ulster All-Star GAA Handball Media award - Colin Carragher
- 2018 All-Star Club person of the year - Aidan Marron
- 2018 Ulster All-Star GAA Handball Club of the year.
- 2011 Ulster All-Star special achievement award - James Fealy
Aidan Marron – 2018 Club Person of the year
Colin Carracher (PRO), Ben Woods (Childrens officer), Gareth King (Assistant Treasurer), Aidan Marron (Secretary), Ciaran Brennan (Chairman), George McKitterick (Treasurer)
Tournament Titles 40x20
- 2020 4-Wall Irish Adult Nationals men’s C winner - Ciarán Brennan
- 2020 4-Wall Irish Adult Nationals men’s B plate winner - James Gavaghan
- 2020 Kingscourt Shoot-Out men's B tournament winner - Ciarán Brennan
- 2018 Golden Gloves men's B tournament winner - James Gavaghan
Ulster GAA Handball Singles Titles 40x20
- 2010 - Junior B - James Gavaghan Ulster Champion
Ulster GAA Handball Singles Titles 60x30
- 2019 - Diamond Masters B Singles softball Ulster Champion - James Fealy
- 2011 - Emerald masters B Softball - James Fealy Ulster Champion
Ulster GAA Handball Doubles Titles 40x20
- 2017 - Junior - James Gavaghan & Michael Duffy(Bawn)
- 2013 - Emerald Masters B Doubles - Peter Owen and James Fealy
- 2013 - Junior A - James Gavaghan & Terry Kiernan(CMX)
- 2012 - Junior A - James Gavaghan & Terry Kiernan(CMX)
Ulster GAA Handball Doubles Titles 60x30
- 2019 - Diamond Masters B Doubles softball Ulster Champions - Peter Owen and James Fealy
Ulster GAA Handball 60x30 Provincial Club Junior B winners
- 2011 - Corduff - Peter Brennan, Tim Oliver, James Fealy, Paul Meehan
The Club has also been very successful in County Championships in the last 10 years winning County singles and doubles titles at Senior and Juveniles levels. The Club was also very successful in winning numerous GAA League titles
2008 GAA County League winning team Micheal Fox, Tim Oliver, Sean Marron, Niall Reilly, Ciaran Brennan, Shane McNally, George McKitterick.
Over the last 5 years the Handball club has been fundraising in order to develop their 40*20 Handball alley. With the help of a number of Grants the Club have successfully renovated the Handball alley, viewing area and Changing facilities. This has been a great achievement for the club, the renovation has sparked a great interest in handball within the community which in turn has led to an increase in membership.
Alley before Renovation
Old ceiling being removed
Installation of battons and insulation for new floor
Serving box from old floor being installed in new viewing area
New Maple Floor & Glass Back wall
New Viewing area
While the Club researched on how best to renovate the alley they visited a lot of Clubs throughout the country and were lucky enough to get some great advice from players and committee members who were more than willing to help out. With this in mind they decided to create a document on how to renovate a Handball alley with the view of trying to help out other clubs across the country who are interested in carrying out their own renovation. This document is now available from GAA Handball for anyone who is interesting to starting their own project.
The Club officially re-opened the new alley on the 19th of February 2019. A special thanks has to be given to GAA President Joe Masterson & his wife Annette for attending the opening along with Martin Mulkerns & Diarmuid Nash for putting on an extremely entertaining exhibition match on the Night. Diarmuid took the win in the end 11-10 in the tie breaker.
Joe Masterson (President GAA Handball) & Noel Keelan (Chathaoirleach – Monaghan Co.Council)
Martin Mulkerns & Diarmuid Nash – Exhibition match for Official opening
Alley Booking System
Due to the increase in demand for Handball the Committee decided to invest in a booking system for the alley so that members and visitors could book their games in each week without turning up and the alley being in use. This has been a great success not only for club games but also for keeping members up to date with County and all Ireland games which are held in the alley throughout the year.
Link to booking system - https://fastcourts.com/corduffhandballclub
The Club needed to show all the great work that was being done in order to grow the club and increase the club’s members not only to our local community but also to the Handball Community across Ireland. Introducing a new PRO to the Club (Colin Carragher) allowed the Club to promote not only the work being done but also highlight some of the achievement’s being made by the club. Colin is continually updating the following platforms with fresh new information on a weekly basis.
Website – http://corduff.clubandcounty.com/
This in turn has really given the club a chance to increase membership, show the Handball Community what work we have done and how they too can grow their own club with some simple ideas.
As the club began to become more established thoughts turned to encouraging more girls and boys into the game of handball and so a big push was done with both primary and post primary levels to engage more young juveniles to try the sport. As part of the 5-year development plan the Club wanted to introduce Handball to all Juveniles in the area. This started with Juvenile handball training one night a week. Numbers were small to start, in order to increase numbers, the Committee decided to fundraise to build a one wall alley for Corduff Primary School. This was completed in late 2018. This started to help increase numbers attending training and in turn training was increased to 2 nights a week to allow for the extra numbers.
A number of Senior Members wanted to help with training so with the help of Darragh Daly and Ulster GAA a Foundation Coaching Course was held in the alley.
Club members(Ben Woods, George McKitterick & Barry Fynn) attending Foundation Level Coaching Course
Since then one of the club’s coaches (David McArdle) visits Corduff Primary school and trains the Children in 3rd and 4th class one day a week for 2 hours. Students are now taking part in one wall competitions such as Cumann Na Mbunscol and Community Games.
One wall – Community games 2019
The successful introduction of Handball in Corduff National school had sparked an interest from another school in our Parish “Raferagh National School” the Club is currently undertaking the build of a one wall for their school.
New One wall for Corduff National School
The Club wanted to do something small for the children in the area during the Pandemic so after speaking to the Principles in both local primary schools’ they decided to send a one wall handball out to all the students along with some flyers from GAA Handball on One Wall Handball. The aim was to promote children’s physical & Mental exercise while at home & at school.
Presenting One Wall Handballs to Principle of Raferagh National School (Breda Duffy)
Presenting One Wall Handballs to Principle of Corduff National School (Pauline Clarke)
For the last 4 years the Club have run both single and team leagues for their members and the members of local handball clubs such as Bawn, Carrickmacross & Kingscourt. In 2015, 28 players competed in Club Competitions. The numbers have increased over the years, currently there are 72 senior players competing. To be able to cope with all of the games along with Juvenile handball training each week some games need to be held in Bawn & Carrickmacross Handball alleys.
Juvenile handballers receiving their new training tops
Senior Handballers receiving their new Jerseys – Local Sponsor GPK homes & Lynch Bros
As well as running Club Leagues, Secretary Aidan Marron has also organised all County Senior Singles Championships & GAA League competitions for the last 3 years. Ensuring good communication between players and Clubs was key for this role. Numbers of players competing in County competitions had been down for a number of years but with a well organised structure put in place & good communication with the players the competitions are once again flying.
The Club have been very fortunate to receive grant funding from a number of different sources over the last few years to help with our renovations, (Carrickmacross Credit Union, Sports Capital Programme, SSE Airtricity, Monaghan County Council, Monaghan LCDC, GAA National Raffle) although none of the renovations would have been possible without the support shown by the local community. Numerous different fundraising events were run over the years, all which were greatly received & supported by the community.
- -24-hour handball marathon
- -Handball Blitz weekend competition’s
- -GAA National Club draw
- -Running annual leagues where local handball clubs pay into to.
- -Annual Quiz night’s and Raffle
In an effort to give back the Club has also helped out other clubs in the community to fund raise as well as organising a Blitz handball competition to help raise funds for local Cancer Societies.
Presenting fundraising Cheque to Marian Maggs – Carrickmacross Cancer Society
What would you consider as some of the Strengths of your Club?
The Handball Club is part of a small community but like a lot of other clubs is always well supported. 5 years ago when the new committee was formed by likeminded individuals, They set about developing a 5-year plan to grow the club. Over the last 5 years they have really seen the Club grow and this was due to a number of reasons
- Well organised Club Leagues
- Good Communication between Committee and Members
- Great way for Members to Socialise and keep fit
- Easy access and Booking Handball alley
- Opportunity for children to learn skills that will help them in school, future careers and personal relationships.
- Handball Club has supported Local Charities & helped other clubs in the Community fund raise. Our Community has really responded well to the work put in by the Club to help out others.
- A lot of the Renovations was carried out by Committee members aswell as club members. This has created good comradery between members.
- Parents have got to see the work the Handball club has done with the Local Primary schools. This has led to increased numbers attending Juvenile handball training each year.
- The Weekly updates on Social Media, Bulletin & our Local Newspapers has given us the chance to let the local & wider Community see what great work that is being done in the club.
- Adults & Children seeing Club members taking part in County and all Ireland competitions has really helped inspire them to not only take up the sport but also to compete.
- Being Lucky to receive numerous awards over the last few years (Ulster Club of the year, Ulster Media award & All Ireland Club Person of the year) it has created a positive vibe within the Club and the ambitions to continue to develop have been created by this.
Why did your club decide to do Club Iontach?
After attending the seminar on Club Iontach last year the Committee met up to discuss what it all meant and if it is something that the Club could achieve. Some of the areas the Club felt they had covered but others would need some work in order to complete. Achieving the accreditation would give the Club a certain stature among other clubs in the area and show that even though they are a small Club a little bit of hard work and determination anything is possible. Club Iontach puts the structures in place to allow for growth within the Club. Most clubs fail due to not having members to take new roles within the club each year. This is mainly to do with not having time or possibly the fear of not knowing what to do but with the procedures and processes in place it really makes the handing over of roles easy. In order to continue to grow and expand the club needed to raise the bar with regards the necessary standards and to be competitive when applying for potential funding.
What have been some of the benefits of The Club Iontach process for your Club?
Before the application for Club Iontach began the Club felt like they were already ticking a lot of the boxes that was required but after some research they found there was still a lot more that could be done to help develop the Club. By completing Club Iontach it gave the committee the tools required to document how to run the Club effectively and being able to access GAA Handball online resources was a great help in guiding them through the complete process. Working through the checklist of required information made the committee concentrate in key areas to help make the day to day running of the Club a lot easier. (e.g. Providing coaches & officials with role descriptions and responsibilities, appointing a coaching officer to oversee coaching structures, nominating a school liaison officer & nominating a designated person for safe guarding). Education is key, the resources made available allowed the club to engage better with parents, players & coaches. The process also encouraged them to provide feedback so that new procedures could be prepared and implemented to ensure continued enjoyment for all.
Club Iontach Process
The process took over three months to complete, with the help of templates and guidance provided on the Club Iontach portal. The documents online are a great starting point for any Club looking to complete the process. Once each document is completed all you need to do is upload it online to GAA Handball Website. When uploading documents remember you can only upload one document for each question so you will need to combine documents before uploading if required.
Was it left to one person or was a small sub-committee set up to work on Club Iontach?
Aidan Marron took the lead with the application as he had the most experience in applying for Grants over the last number of years which made the process easier. Help was always available from the rest of the Handball Committee. We would however recommend a subcommittee to be set up to help divide the work load. Planning regular meetings and highlighting what is required by each member for that meeting is a must to keep you on track.
What advice would you give to other clubs who are thinking about starting out on their own Club Iontach journey?
1. Start by firstly visiting GAA Handball website and read up on all the online documents available to help you through the process.
2. The documents are there to help you develop your own process and procedures, remember they are just a guide, you need to edit to suit your own needs.
3. Take your time with the application, you want to ensure the process helps to develop your club and that the procedures you put in place are something that will continue to be used for years to come.
4. Do not leave the application to one person. Many hands make light work. The more members involved will help ensure that all club members buy into what you are trying to achieve.
5. GAA Handball are there to help and are happy to provide you with as much information as possible. A big thanks has to be given to Pauric Dowdall for all his help with our application.
If anyone in your area is interested in joining your club, how can they contact you?
- Website – http://corduff.clubandcounty.com/
- Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/CorduffGAAHandballClub/
- Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/corduffgaahandballclub/
- Secretary – Aidan Marron - Mob: +35387 9972389
- Chairman – Ciaran Brennan - Mob: 0035387 9911338