Leah Minogue may be one of the busiest young handballers in the country. As well as winning the 17 and Under Irish Nationals earlier in the year, she completed her Leaving Cert at Scariff Community College and has qualified for the All-Ireland Minor Softball Singles final, too.
On top of that, Leah plays minor and senior camogie. It’s a packed schedule but it’s very enjoyable, she told GAAHandball.ie.
“Tuamgraney is my club and we have a 40x20 and a 60x30 so it’s very handy. It’s the only 60x30 court in Clare and it’s only two minutes down the road.
“My club is Bodyke but we’re joined with Kilkishen as well. I play senior camogie with them. We’re in the middle of that right now, it’s clashing a bit with the handball and they’re not happy so what can I do!” she laughed.
“I play Minor A and we are senior for adults as well. It’s a bit hectic at the moment but it’s good.
“For handball, I train about three times a week when there’s competitions going on. When there aren’t many competitions going on, I’d still try to get over to the alley maybe once a week to keep it up.
“I have camogie training going on as well so that helps with fitness.”
To reach this stage, Leah has beaten Leanne Gold and Hannah Grace (both Tipperary) in Munster and Jodie Keeling from Wexford in the All-Ireland semi-final.
She has been playing handball for around eight years now.
“I think I was 10 when I started. My older siblings played handball and when I saw them playing, of course I wanted to take it up as well. I play camogie and it’s not played in the winter months so it was nice to have a sport to play during the winter.
“I just kind of took up handball casually and then I kept on playing it.
“I didn’t always win much but I kept up with it and I’d say I have improved a lot over the years. It helps my camogie and my camogie helps my handball.
Her big breakthrough came in the Junior Nationals this year in the small court and she has carried that form into the ‘big alley’.
“I won the 17 and Under Junior Nationals in Tyrone there in May and that was my first big singles achievement. I won two All-Ireland doubles medals before that but this was my first in singles so that was a big achievement for me.
“I love 60x30. A lot of people ask me which one I prefer but to be honest, I wouldn’t really know. When I’m playing the big alley, I love the big alley and when I’m playing the small alley, I love the small alley.”
Leah believes television coverage would be of major benefit to handball if it could be attained.
“A lot of people outside of the handball community don’t know what handball is so I think it would be good to promote handball more - I know it would be hard to get but if we had handball matches on TV, it would be brilliant. It would so good just to be able to show the sport to more people because it’s a great sport.
“I tell my friends I have a final and they say, ‘oh, good luck’, but they wouldn’t really know what it is.”
By Paul Fitzpatrick
Softball Singles Finals - Saturday 3rd Sept 2022
At St Coman's HC, Roscommon, from 12pm
- Girls Minor: Leah Maguire (Clare) v Carragh Kennedy (Ros)
- Boys Minor: Kyle Jordan (KK) v Cormac Finn (Sligo)
- Mens Senior: Robbie McCarthy (Westmeath) v Gary McConnell (Meath)
- Ladies Senior: Martina McMahon v Catriona Casey (Cork)