Civic honour for all-conquering handballer
The outstanding career of a 'sporting icon' was acknowledged at a civic reception at Sligo City Hall last Thursday.
73-year-old handball star, Paddy Walsh, was honoured for his phenomenal success over four all-conquering decades.
Paddy has won a total of 29 All-Ireland titles in a glittering career, stretching back to 1974 when he won his first national championship.
His first national title was a doubles championship with the late Eamonn Hannon at Croke Park in 1974.
He had to wait until 1982 for his next title, the Masters A crown, but it has been a spectacular rollercoaster of glory for the proud Sligoman since then.
In the 1990s and 2000s, he claimed a remarkable 27 All Ireland singels and doubles titles with partners Mick Kelly and Padraig Maye.
In one year alone, he won four All-Ireland titles. His roll of honour is all the more noteworthy in that he's had two hip operations during the course of his career but battled back to his brilliant best each time.
His last title came last month when he won the over 70s 60 x 30 All-Ireland championship in Clare.
Paddy was honoured at the GAA Handball All Stars banquet in 2009, receiving a special achievement award.
He was also an accomplished Gaelic footballer, winning six County Championship medals with Collooney/Ballisodare and one with St Mary's
Apart from his prowess on the court, Paddy is also actively engaged in coaching young players, with many of his juvenile stars going on to Connacht glory.
He is currently involved in a major fund raising campaign for the new 40 x 20 handball court at Collooney Handball Club.
Speaking at last Thursday's reception, the Mayor of Sligo, Clr. Marcella McGarry, described Paddy as of the most outstanding local sportsmen of our generation.
She said: "He's a true sporting icon who is a shining example of what can be achieved through commitment and dedication.
"He has achieved legendary status because of his outstanding success.
"He's an outstanding ambassador the sport of handball and for Sligo - a genuine sporting hero"
Among the attendance at the reception were Cllrs Matt Lyons and Rosaleen O'Grady, Sligo County Board Chairman, Cyril Feehily, Chairman Connacht Handball Council, Peter Heaney, Sligo Handball Board Chairman, Shane Bruen, Collooney Handball Chairman, Hugh McGarry, members of Paddy's family and members of the Sligo Handball Board.