Mairead Fox (Tyrone) and Megan McCann (Armagh) included in Irish Junior team for the World Handball Championships
The half dozen players to make up the Irish Junior team for the World Championships, in Minnesota next August, have now been named after the weekend National Junior Championships in Kingscourt with the likes of Mairead Fox (Tyrone) and Megan McCann (Armagh) included.
Remarkably, the Irish junior team is made up of players from six different counties but they are all players who have been well-known on the handball courts around Ireland for many years.
Mairead Fox (G15&U) has packed a lot of success into her sporting career so far, including a range of national titles and the UGAAWA Handball Award for which she shared with her brother Anton while Lurgan teenager Megan McCann (G19&U) has three US Juniors gold medals in her bottom drawer, along with football awards.
Accompanying the two northern girl to the Worlds will be Niamh Heffernan, Galway (G17&U); Josh Kavanagh, Wexford (B15&U); Eoghan McGinnity, Monaghan (B17&U); Shane Dunne, Kilkenny (B19&U).
Winning the National Junior title has brought Mairead's tally of Irish titles into double figures and clinched an ambition she has had for years, winning a place on Team Ireland at the World Championships.
"I had to play four matches over two days to win the nationals," she reflected "and that can be physically and mentally tough for any player, especially with so much at stake.
"I can't describe the truly amazing feeling I had at the exact moment I clinched my place on Team Ireland. Words will never be able to describe it.
"When I was going in to serve for my last point, I took my time to think about it and decide what I was going to do in the next rally to win something that I had dreamt about for a very long time.
"I was set up at the right side and for a split second I actually thought to myself 'how much do I really want this' and I killed the ball in the right corner as hard as I could hit it. This was a moment I had longed for since I started playing handball.
"It was a bit of a surreal experience meeting Clodagh Munroe (from Carrickmore) in the final but I had to forget about that and concentrate on the job in hand.
“This was the one I had wanted from a very young age, so I was prepared to do all I could to make this dream come true, and I made the sacrifices when I had to.
"I feel privileged about the amazing experience I have to look forward to in August.”
For Megan McCann the same exciting trip to Minneapolis lies ahead at the end of what is bound to be a busy summer for the Lurgan girl. Handball will probably take up a chunk of her time but there is also the matter of gaelic football with both her club and county.
Megan mixes her sports to great effect and she will have to plan her campaign carefully and avoid any hint of an injury on the football field.
Team Ireland Juvenile panel: Mairead Fox, Tyrone (G15&U); Niamh Heffernan, Galway (G17&U); Megan McCann, Armagh (G19&U); Josh Kavanagh, Wexford (B15&U); Eoghan McGinnity, Monaghan (B17&U); Shane Dunne, Kilkenny (B19&U)