2016 Julie Long - Shay Reilly Tournament 2016-07-01 14:59:00

St Brigid’s remembers Julie and Shay.

On Saturday last players from far and wide came to St Brigid’s to play in the annual memorial tournament to remember Julie Long and Shay Reilly. Julie was a tremendous young St Brigid’s player who won Irish, US and World handball titles during the 90s and Shay was a fantastic coach who inspired a generation of young handballers to national and international successes. 

The tournament takes the form of a fun doubles event, which pairs players to ensure close and enjoyable matches. Tournament organizers led by Audrey McCormack, Maria McCarthy and Joanne McAndrew had everything organized perfectly with games taking place in both the 40x20 and 1-wall indoor handball facilities and the players and spectators regularly supplied with refreshments. Soup, salads and sandwiches were complemented by home made specials, supplied by some of the tournament regulars, including cakes, buns and rocky road delicacies!

The timed 15-minute matches supplied great entertainment with two full groups and the top two pairs in each going forward to the semifinals.  There was also a plate event and the player of the tournament award to be won. While there was no special award for the shot of the day, this was unanimously agreed to be the diving get by Roz Larkin! Risking life and both knees, Roz dived headlong to pick up a ball way out of court to roll out the ball to the disbelief of the spectators, who greeted her efforts with a loud cheer. Eddie McCavitt all the way from Armagh substituted at short notice and showed his competitive spirit right through the event. He was partnered by one of Julie’s contemporaries and Shay’s protégés, Susan Keegan, who went on to win the Player of the Tournament Award. 

Leixlip Handball Club was very well represented with Anna and Terry Spence, their daughter Niamh, Ellen O’Connor, Kate Dagg and Jade Tracy all competing. The pairing of Anna with St Brigid’s Maria McCarthy reminded us of the years when they were All-Ireland winners as their skills were still clearly evident. Terry joined up with St Brigid’s newest member Siomha Ní Chonchubhair and fought hard in every match. Ellen played with Declan Keenan, fresh from his Leinster 1-wall exploits, and they proved a well-balanced pair going through to the overall final. The young Jade Tracy was ably partnered by St Brigid’s Colm Devine to go on to win the Plate final while Matt Finn, all the way from the midlands, partnered Kate Dagg. Last year’s Player of the Tournament Jim Dunlea doubled up with shot-maker Roz and Brian Gardiner and Tracy Hutchinson fought tooth and nail throughout.

As often stressed, handball is for all ages and this was exemplified in the main event, as it was a combination of youth and experience that eventually won through. The youngest player 15 year old Niamh Spence played terrific handball and partnered by the oldest participant Eugene Kennedy came from behind to win the final against Ellen and Declan. 

Overall it proved a great day of handball and was made all the more enjoyable by stories remembering Julie and Shay. The occasion was greatly added to by the presence of Julie’s parents, Tony and Rosaleen, and other friends. Tony presented the prizes in the various categories and expressed the thanks of the family for all the work that had gone in to the organization of the event and to all those who participated. 

Tony and Audrey noted that next year will be the 10th anniversary tournament and that an extra special event will be organized and it was hoped that all would be back to again honour Julie and Shay.

Some photos from the event can be seen on the St Brigids Handball Facebook page.

St Brigids GAA Club,
Russell Park, Navan Road, Dublin 15