ALLEY CHAT with Antóin Ó Braoin
Rossiter Returns To Chair Amid Shortage Of Officials
Former Leinster and Wexford official Tom Rossiter made a dramatic return to the county handball scene at Piercestown on Monday week last when he was elected unopposed as chairman at Wexford GAA Handball County Convention. The Castlebridge clubman who last served in the position back in 2008, takes over from Alan O’Neill, Ballymitty, who returns to his club having overseen a dramatic upsurge in numbers taking up the game during his time in office.
Outgoing Secretary, Tony Breen, Templeudigan had been strongly supported for the Chair but he found himself in an impossible position when no candidate emerged to succeed him and he ended up withdrawing from the contest so he could stay on as ‘acting’ Secretary at least until January when nominations will again be sought for the position.
A similar situation arose when outgoing Treasurer Virginia Hanrahan, Castlebridge, stepped aside to take the Children’s Officer position and it too will be on the agenda for January while current Leinster Juvenile Committee Chairman Ricky Barron, Barntown also returned to the ‘home’ Board when he succeeded JR Finn as Vice Chairman.
The work undertaken around the handball clubs of the county by Wexford Local Development Tús employee John Quigley, Oulart was acknowledged by those same clubs, as they elected him County Coaching Officer and he will be expected to bring a new focus to this vital area going forward.
At a Convention notable for its 100% attendance by clubs, harmony was the key word as remarkably all 18 motions on the Clár received the support of the delegates. Included in these was the new plan for juvenile handball ‘The Next Level’, which will transform the way the county championships are promoted and structured. No longer will the top players take on the weaker players as a new seeding system will see the top four players in each age group enter the championships at the quarter finals stage where their opponents will be those who have come through a qualifying phase. Beaten quarter finalists will then play off for the ‘B’ championship while those who have not qualified for the quarter finals will enter a Plate Competition. A newly constituted Juvenile Sub Committee will be responsible for running the championships in accordance with the terms and conditions dictated by ‘The Next Level’.
Another huge change approved sees the top four players at each age group, boys and girls, not only excluded from the league stages of the championship, but also joining a development squad where they will be prepared for the job of representing Wexford in the provincial and All Ireland championship. It is hoped that this concentration on the best players will lead to a raising of standards amongst what is arguably the most promising group of young players ever to come on the scene at the same time.
Playing attire featured prominently in a number of motions and players found to have played at either interclub or intercounty level without the official club or county jersey and togs are to be removed from the competition by the Management Committee. While this is no longer a major problem for handball, delegates decided to be fully supportive of those players who conform to County Committee policy on the matter.
The absence of a local bye law governing transfers and parish rule situations was also tidied up with the passing of three motions on the subject. These will ensure that all juvenile players taking up the game will now do so at their local club, while at adult level all transfer applications will need the recommendation of the Competitions Control Committee followed by the approval of the County Committee before they can take place.
Winter League Finishes With A Flourish
607 games and three months after it commenced back in September, the Wexford Winter League was concluded last week with finals in all 20 divisions. Players from Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois and Wicklow had joined those from Wexford in this hugely popular event which has been growing in stature and popularity for the past five years.
Gavin Buggy, St. Josephs retained his premier division crown when he defeated his great friend and rival Ducksy Walsh, Kilkenny at St. Josephs on Wednesday last. The legendary Walsh appeared set to add another big win to his endless list of achievements when he took a 17-13 lead in the second game having won the first by 21-13, only for the tireless Buggy to fight back and take this epic contest into a tiebreak. The Wexfordman is renowned for his ability to close out a game from a winning position and when he overhauled Walsh to lead 18-17 lead in that second game he was simply relentless from there to the finish. The tiebreak then proved to be very one-sided as Buggy maintained his pace and power all the way to record a 11-1 win. While the large crowd were naturally delighted to see a Wexford win, the efforts of 47 year old Walsh were fully appreciated by those who were present. The great man has nothing to prove at this stage of his glittering career and his current high ranking in the game bears testimony to his capabilities even at this stage of his career. Buggy too is moving towards the Masters (40 and over) grade but like Walsh his form and fitness appears undiminished by time. It was his third time in a row to win this title and his fourth victory in five years. Few would bet against him making it four in a row in 2014.
The brave efforts of Marguerite Gore, St. Mary’s to make it a Wexford double over Kilkenny failed in the face of a terrific display from the very impressive Mary Phelan, Clogh in the Women’s D1 final. Gore had come through her full league programme with only one defeat, also against Phelan, but try as she might she was simply unable to make any impression on her brilliant opponent. Elsewhere Daniel Fenlon, Garryhill proved too good for Darren O’Toole, Coolgreany in D1 while Darren’s Coolgreany clubmate Peter McGrath recorded a brilliant tiebreak victory over Ollie Ryan, Garryhill in the D2 decider. Carlow were again to the fore in D3 when Kevin Barrett, Tinryland followed up previous wins in 2012 and 2011 by beating Mick Armstrong, Davidstown and the D4 title was also ‘exported’ when John Quinn, Arklow just edged out Bob Byrne, Bridgetown in a tiebreak. Excitement too in D5 when David Redmond, Templeudigan finished strongly in both game to see off a stern challenge from Ricky Barron, Barntown. Cora Doyle, St. Josephs continues to show promise and she put on a very impressive performance in beating another 13 year old, Ciara Jordan, Coolboy in the women’s D2 final.
Other winners were; D6 John O’Neill, Goresbridge, D7 Robert Doyle, St. Josephs, D8 Sonny Sheil, Ballyhogue, D9 John Murphy, Kilmyshall, D10 Alan Armstrong, Davidstown, D11 Gavin Goggins, St. Mary’s, D12 Brian Busher, Bridgetown, D13 James Stanners, St. Martins, D14 Timmy Farrell, Kilmyshall, D15 Tommy Haughton, St. Josephs, D16 David Stanners, St. Martins, D17 Daniel Kelly, Templeudigan
159 players from 26 clubs in 6 counties entered the League which is now one of the biggest competitions in the country.