Ballyshannon hosts first handball tourney in decades

The ancient game of handball is thriving again in Ballyshannon and this weekend will see the first major official handball tournament at the refurbished alley located in the Mall, for almost four decades.

The ancient game of handball is thriving again in Ballyshannon and this weekend will see the first major official handball tournament at the refurbished alley located in the Mall, for almost four decades.

The tournament will feature handballers from Tyrone and Leitrim against a crop of emerging young talent from the Erne town, although a few ‘hardy annuals’ are also expected to show that age is no barrier when it comes to the majestic game.

The start is 3pm on Saturday (11th August) and with good weather expected, organisers hope that it will be the biggest crowd at the alley in years.

Last year the Ballyshannon Handball Club reformed after a void of more than twenty years and it is believed that Saturday tourney’s Perpetual Trophy will be the first official tournament at the alley since 1974.

Treasurer Denis McGuinness told the Democrat: “This is all part of the ongoing development at Ballyshannon Handball alley. We featured on the RTE programme last year “Dirty Old Town” and we have never looked back since.

“The club itself was reformed last year and to be honest, we were bowled over with the enthusiasm shown by people from the town and surrounding areas. Already we are seeing bright new stars of the future and with talk of single wall handball becoming an Olympic sport, it is a wonderful chance for young people to participate in a hugely popular game, where all you need is a ball.”

He thanked Joel Smith from Omagh, a former Connacht champion for suggesting the tournament, which will be followed later in the year by another, around the time of the Harvest Fair, thanks to financial help from Joe Guilfoyle.

Denis said that he was equally surprised with the generosity of sponsors, despite the tough times that we are in, with trophies being sponsored by Martin McNulty of bambooireland.ie, a son of Erne native Liam McNulty. They were also fortuitous with the handball alley being built 75 years ago, the local credit union are 50 years young and they happily have agreed to sponsor the Ballyshannon tops.

Denis also designed the new club logo: “It is all hands on deck and part of the community spirit that we need at this time to counteract all the negativity that is out there at the moment. James McGrath of Sign Printing at Finner printed the designs on the t-shirts and I can tell you if we don’t win the tournament, we will definitely be the best turned out,” he joked.

Admission is free and food and beverages will be available on the day.

Yet another good Donegal story in these challenging times.