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Thursday 30 October 2014

Templeudigan's future in doubt

Published 11/06/2013 | 05:38

AFTER DECADES of success at World, All-Ireland, Leinster and County level, Templeudigan Handball Club stands on the verge of extinction after the failure to elect a committee to run the club for the remainder of 2013.

AFTER DECADES of success at World, All-Ireland, Leinster and County level, Templeudigan Handball Club stands on the verge of extinction after the failure to elect a committee to run the club for the remainder of 2013.

A recent meeting held to fill the position of Secretary was, in line with meetings for the past number of years, very poorly attended and has left the club with little option but to call an emergency meeting for this Wednesday at 8.30 p.m. Those at the last meeting made the decision to disband the committee if Wednesday's meeting fails to get the desired response.

Club Chairman Micheál O'Neill, himself a multiple All-Ireland winner, was elected to the post earlier this year and despite strenuous efforts to get people involved in the running of the club, the response from the locals has been very disappointing.

'It will be really sad to see the club fold after the success it has achieved but it's proved impossible so far to get a committee together,' he said. 'This is my first year as Chairman and I'm appealing to all members to rise up and save this famous club from going under. I am also appealing to the people of the local community to save their club from extinction and to past members and past officials to rally around us in this time of need.'

Breda Ryan has been Treasurer of the club for the past 18 years. 'When I was elected in 1995 I never expected to be still there in 2013 but as tends to happen sometimes it becomes known as "your" job thereafter and re-election year after year becomes almost automatic. This has been a great club but we need new faces and new ideas and these have not been forthcoming. I appeal to the local people to attend on Wednesday night.'

Current GAA Handball County Secretary Tony Breen served as cub Secretary at Templeudigan for many years. 'My heart and soul is in this club and I will be devastated if it folds,' he said.

'This is a club steeped in handball tradition with a proud history of achievement and it's played a huge part in making Wexford handball a stronghold throughout the country. I can vividly remember back in the mid-1980s when Templeudigan first came to prominence as a national force and officials in Croke Park had never heard of us and couldn't even spell our name correctly. We laughed back then and just continued on our winning ways but we are in danger of becoming unknown again as we fade from the scene as quickly as we came.'

Kevin Cowman and Nigel McGrath brought the first All-Ireland to the club back in 1987 when they captured the boys' Under-13 doubles, and the honour of winning the first adult title fell to Tony Breen later that same year when he won the All-Ireland Novice singles championship.

Numerous All-Ireland titles came to the foot of the Blackstairs Mountain after that with players from the club winning medals in Juvenile boys' and girls' events as well as men's and women's national championships. In the '80s and '90s the club was by far the strongest Juvenile outfit in Wexford and in 1994 it was on top of the world as well when Tony Breen and his son, Raymond, became the first father and son in the history of the game to win titles at the same world championships. Tony won the Over-40 and Raymond took the 19 and under.

Tony Breen (who is also Chairman of GAA Handball's National Development Committee in Croke Park) finds it ironic that several people from the club have served at County Board level over the years but the club finds it so hard to fill positions at local level.

'Over the years Templeudigan people have always allowed their name to go forward for positions at County Board level and currently, apart from myself, Noel Holohan is the County P.R.O. and Anne Boland is Juvenile Competitions Secretary. I am now asking everyone to look again at the contribution they are making and decide if that commitment would be better directed at their local club instead of the County Board. As an officer of Wexford Handball Board it is not easy for me to say that, but without a club we will all have to stand down in any event.'

At a time when the game of handball is thriving around the county with an 800% increase in the numbers players at Juvenile level, it will send shockwaves throughout the sport if this famous old club goes under at this particular time. Micheál O'Neill says Templeudigan has also been a contributor to this increase in numbers.

'We owe it to those who have taken up the game at Templeudigan to secure the future of their local club but the parents and families of those children also have a responsibility to get us through this crisis. I am appealing to everyone in the parish and those who stand to benefit from the existence of this club to stand up and be counted on Wednesday night.'

Tony Breen finished by saying 'over the years the personnel of this club have made a massive contribution to the local community through the provision of sporting facilities at Templeudigan. Throughout all of those years it was mainly the same committee of Sinéad Cowman, Breda Ryan, Maggie Walsh, Helen Brennan, Anne Boland and others who kept handball and racquetball thriving and now when we need new faces it is time for others to step up to the mark'.

In particular he mentioned those playing racquetball who he said had 'enjoyed the benefits of membership without making any contribution beyond the payment of the membership fee'.

The meeting will be held in the local hall at Templeudigan this Wednesday at 8.30 p.m.

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