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Knee injury rules Conor McElduff out of World handball action

Armagh handball star Charlie Shanks. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Tony McGee

When the qualifiers for the World Players of Handball (WPH) R48 event hit-off in the Royal Flush tournament in Las Vegas today one notable Irish contender will be missing.

Conor McElduff, the European Ranked Number One Wall Ball player, had hoped to get back into the 40x20 game in preparation for the World Championships but those plans have been scuppered.

The Breacach clubman will be in LA but only as a spectator as a knee injury rules him out of action. He has spent some time on crutches after a freak accident in training. The damage may also rule him out of the Worlds.

“During training last week I felt pressure on my right knee and I thought that I just twisted it and I played on but afterwards I was walking with a straight leg,” recalled Conor.

“I then went to work and it got worse so I had to go to hospital and there were fears that I had damaged the cruciate ligament. When I was 18 years old I damaged my cruciate ligament and I had to have surgery then. I know the length of time that took to repair.

“I have seen a consultant and I may have to have a bit of surgery – I hope not. My plans are all tossed aside as I had everything sorted for the rest of the season.”.

McElduff had planned to play in LA to brush up on his 40x20 game and later this month he was entered for the UK Wall Ball Open in London. After that, he had hoped to spend a few months in the US and enter for a few more ProStop events to get himself in shape for the World Championships, in Minneapolis during August.

The qualifiers go into action in LA today and McElduff was hoping that he would get through and, possibly, clash with friend Killian Carroll at some stage in the ProStop No.4. That could have been interesting.

Cork man Carroll enters the competition as red hot favourite after consecutive wins in Arizona, Tucson and Montana but all top ten ranking players on the Pro Tour are in the draw. It will be another tough test for the Boston-based Leesider.

Another Irish player who is creating waves on the tour is Kilkenny man Peter Function. In his last two appearances he has finished seventh and ninth, proving to be a match for the best on tour.

Today's qualifier has challengers from Arizona, Oregon, Minnesota, Colorado, New York, Canada and Ireland so the Top Ten WPH Rankers have to look to their laurels.

Interestingly, all the winners on the Women's Pro Tour, after 14 events, have been Irish. Aisling Reilly, Martina McMahon and Catriona Casey, who has been beaten only twice, share all the titles.

Meanwhile, Handball Ireland All-Star awards for 2017 were announced at a dinner in Croke Park and it was no surprise that Charly Shanks and Catriona Casey took the major Irish honours.

Lurgan man Shanks collected the Male Player of the Year trophy while Catriona Casey (Cork) took the female award.

Shanks, of course, defeated reigning champion Robbie McCarthy to win the male honours for the first time while Casey continued her dominance of the women's game.

2017 Irish All-Star Winners:

Male - Charly Shanks (Armagh)

Female - Catriona Casey (Cork)

Young Male - Tadhg O'Neill (Cork)

Young Female - Fiona Tully (Roscommon)

Club of the Year - Moycullen (Galway)

Venue of the Year - Kingscourt (Cavan)

Administrator of the Year - Joe O'Connell (Galway)

Volunteer of the Year - Gavin Buggy (Wexford)

Club Person of the Year - Michelle Warren (Tyrone)

Hall of Fame Inductees - Tim Healy RIP (Cork), Seamus O'Fathearta (Galway), Joe Masterson (Offaly), Billy Silcock (Antrim).


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