GARRYHILL HANDBALL CLUB:
Garryhill Handball Club is celebrating eighty-five years in existence
in 2009 but handball was played in the Parish prior to the building of a
court in the Garryhill area. In fact handball was played extensively in
a court built of stone and timber at the Hill Road, Myshall on the site
presently occupied by the Doyle family, in the early 1900’s. Garryhill
Handball Club (then known as Drumphea) was founded in the year 1924 by
the then Curate in the Parish, Rev. Thomas Prendergast. In its infancy
the playing facilities consisted of an open three walled court which had
been built on a piece of waste ground formerly occupied by a tailor
named Paddy Neill and part of the Neill dwelling was later used to form
a gallery when the court was extended and a back wall erected to make a
four walled court.
Garryhill Handball Club, 2006
Garryhill Handball Club plaque commemorating the Pavilion opening
The club soon became a meeting place for many of the locals and the names of Jack Hogan, the O’Hara brothers, Jim Connell, Tom Doran, Loughlin and Paddy Ryan, Ned and John Stapleton, Paddy Ryan, Davy and Tommy McDonald, Jim and Sonny Kelly, Isaac and Paddy Slack, Ned Dowling, Mick, Joe, Luke and Tom Tracey and John Hendrick are often mentioned in conversation concerning the Club in the 1920’s and early 1930’s.
The players in the area played under the rules of the Irish Amateur Handball Union (I.A.H.U.). The first All Ireland Title won under GAA rules was in 1940 when Paddy Ryan and Davy McDonald won the Junior Doubles Crown. There was a lull in activities in the mid 1940’s, which was attributed mainly to the effects of the Second World War. Through the efforts of players like Pake Hogan, Paddy Cosgrave, Tommy McDonald, Joe Byrne, Davy McDonald, Paddy Ryan, John Stapleton, Tom Kerr, Gus Daly, John Hendrick, Tom Fitzgerald, Peter O’Rourke and many others the club was revived after the war and competed whenever possible and had its share of success. The game was played extensively particularly on a local basis and many new players came on the scene such as Joe and Jack Luptin, Pakie Quirke, Pat Murphy, the Ward Brothers, John Jacob, Johnny Tobin, The Donohoe Brothers, John Ryan, Jackie, Fintan and Hughie Byrne, John and Michael Stapleton, Michael Tracey, Eugene Brennan and Mikie O’Hara to mention but some.
With the appearance of some above average players on the scene at the end of the 1950’s the Club affiliated direct to the Leinster Council and commenced its journey back into the record books. From then on with a combination of young and experienced players and personnel on the committee, steady progress was made and the Garryhill Administrators were instrumental in reforming the Carlow Handball Board and getting handball on a proper footing throughout the County. The Garryhill Secretary at the time, Pat Ryan, was elected County Secretary. The Leinster Convention was held in the Garryhill Court and local players, Mick Stapleton and Davy McDonald, won the Convention Cup. Carlow also made the breakthrough at underage level when Andy Ryan won the Leinster Minor Singles title.
Club Members in 1965 were:
L. Kelly J. Nolan, J. Fenlon, M. Stapleton, P. Murphy, C. Kavanagh, J. Murphy, J. Kavanagh, J. Cosgrave, P. Kelly, P. Ryder, E. Brennan, T. Stapleton, J. Fagan, F. Kelly, B. Hosey, T. Foley, H. Donohoe, P. Ryan, A. Ryan, M. Tracey, J. Luptin, J. Ryder, P. Byrne and J. Foley.
In August 1970 with a total of £4.00 in funds a decision was made to build a
new court and whilst some members were pessimistic about embarking on such a
huge undertaking the project got underway. A site was provided by local farmer,
John Hendrick and what was originally a dream became a reality when a new 60 x
30 court became playable in the Golden Jubilee Year of the Club 1974. Handball
was in a very healthy state both in Carlow and Ireland at this time and a huge
volume of players were playing the game, and the standard of the game was at an
all time high. Membership of the club began to double year by year and with the
demand for playing facilities exceeding the supply the Club commenced the
building of a 40 x 20 Court in the year 1980. Success followed success and every
year players from the Club figured in the National Finals. Apart from individual
titles the Club has won many team events and in particular has the unique
distinction of winning All Ireland Club Titles at Novice, Junior and Senior
level. In the 1970’s the new facilities really started to get results for the
players as they could now practice all year round and compete with players from
Kilkenny and Wexford who were regarded as the kingpins of handball in Leinster.
Players from the club representing Carlow played in five national leagues finals
winning three. The club has gone from strength to strength from then up to the
present day with 1998 been an exceptional year with the club winning eight All
Ireland titles out of eleven won by the county of Carlow.
Leinster & All Ireland winners Miriam Ryan & Ciara Mullins
Over the last thirty years players in the club have won over one hundred
national titles two World titles, and Leinster titles well in excess of a
hundred. Juveniles boys and girls in the club have contributed greatly to this
success winning Community games gold medals, Féile na Gael titles, Leinster and
All Ireland titles at all age groups.
Present facilities in the Club consists of 60 x 30 court, 40 x 20 court, meeting and pool room, spectator facilities, canteen, dressing rooms and showers.