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​Dardis and Fanning storm to Reilly Cup success

The Crossakiel – Kells combination of Liam Fanning and Luke Dardis went all the way to claim the Hughie Reilly Memorial Cup in fine style on Sunday last in the Crossakiel Club, writes Michael McGee.

Crossakiel, Kells and Virginia clubs were represented. Before the competition got underway the club were presented with Jerseys from new Club Sponsor Anthony McGee of McGee/Rea Auctioneers Dublin. Anthony is a brother of Club Secretary Michael. 

The Crossakiel Club was founded by Michael McGee Snr along with a number of others and this was echoed by the Managing Director of the Company who said it was a proud day for the Family to see the name on the Crossakiel Handball Shirts. McGee wished all the players every success in the years ahead. Chairperson Jackie Farrell thanked Anthony McGee for the generous sponsorship for the two year deal.

Back to the action there was some fantastic handball fare on view with a number of games having to go to extra time for a winner to emerge. Dardis and Fanning came through strong qualifying games to reach the final. In their quarter final match the duo stunned one of the pre tournament favourites in Ryan Corcoran and Laoise Carry by 22-13 while in the semi-final they edged an absorbing contest winning by the minimum 20-19 after 20 minutes of play. In the final they faced Cian Gaughran from the Crossakiel Club who reached their years Leinster U-14 Singles final in Croke Park alongside Kells Club player Jamie Smith. 

Dardis and Fanning raced away with the first game leaving their opponents scoreless. Gaughran & Smyth shellshocked from the first game regrouped and made Dardis & Fanning fight all the way in the second. Luke Dardis playing some superb handball on the left side and Fanning came more into the contest the longer it wore on and played out of his skin to record a famous victory eventually winning the second game by 15-8

Carroll and White take plate final

The Plate competition was equally enjoyable. In the semi-final Patrick White Crossakiel & Josh Carroll Kells overcame Lennon Farrell (Virginia) and Leighton Gordon (Kells) by 12-6. Both Lennon and Carroll gave an exhibition of handball with their individual silken skills battles warming the packed gallery in attendance, while the other semi-final went down to the wire with Warren Farrell (Crosskakiel) and Sophie Griffin (Kells)  just edging a fantastic royal battle. Both sides finished level on 17 each after the 15 minutes play. 

In the end Farrell and Griffin just about held on for a narrow victory after 5 minutes of extra time over a gallant Sean Keys & Coco Griffin Kells by the minimum 24-23. In the plate final the towering Patrick White and the Kells pocket rocket of Josh Caroll overcame the stern challenge offered by Warren Farrell & Sophie Griffin by 15-10, 15-6 thus bringing down the curtain on a successful Reilly Memorial Cup in 2023.

Chairperson Jackie Farrell was glowing in her appreciation for former Club Chairman Hughie Reilly whose Memorial Cup is played in his honour each year. “ Hughie embodied the club and was a dedicated Club Official throughout his whole life”, said Farrell. “It is unaccountable the number of young lives that were changed for the better thanks to Hughie and his life long commitment to the Crossakiel Handball Club.”

Farrell also thanked a number of People the Welcome Wagon Crossakiel, Dennis and Grainne Gaughran Ballinlough for club donation, Pat and Andrea Farrelly for their Chocolate Milk Urbo drinks, Majella and Hillside Stores Drumbaragh for sponsoring the treat bags and to the Kells Handball Club for their generous donation towards the running costs of the day. 

Kevin Reilly was delighted to witness the handball skills by the young players and complimented each and everyone of them for their displays and warmly encouraged them to keep handball going and alive in the Crossakiel Club. Reilly presented all the participants with medals and presented the Hughie Reilly Memorial Cup to the winners in 2023 Liam Dardis and Liam Fanning.