Kilkenny has a long history with the GAA, we all know that. So often we focus on the tremendous success we have had out on a grass pitch. However, on the court, we have also experienced the euphoria of All Ireland’s success.
Most of those successes came at the hands of Ducksie Walsh. Whether it was in singles or doubles Ducksie was indeed a champion of the sport in Kilkenny and beyond. Even up until his untimely passing in 2016 he was competing at the very top of his game.
Someone that is keeping the winning tradition going in the Marble City is Paddy Delaney. Paddy went back to training over the last couple of years, and it seemed all that training has paid off. No doubt on his mantle place sits both a county and Leinster winners medal, an achievement he can certainly be proud of.
“I won county and Leinster with a good few games to play. I did well so I am happy enough with it. I offered my opponent an extra two weeks due to him having covid at the time, but I had to get the home venue to play. He came down from Kildare so fair play to him. I beat him it was a great game so I am delighted I came out on top.”
“I started back just tipping around and got the kids involved. I got the love and bug for it again. The competitions started coming around, and I said I will give it a go. I did not know how far the road was going to be. It went further than I expected.”
“I enjoy coaching the young lads. It is just about bringing them on. It would be brilliant in seeing them coming up, it is all about the future.”
Frank Manogue works with the county board in promoting the sport and keeping a conveyor belt of talent going in the county. It can be hard considering the sheer amount of field sports handball competes with, however, Frank believes certain skillsets are transferable;
“I am the juvenile officer for the county board, in that position since the start of this year. There is a big hunger to get back into it and keep the games going. When the pandemic hit we were at various final stages in so many different age groups. They got them done as soon as the restrictions were lifted so it has not had any impact on the 2022 season.”
“Handball is one of our national sports. It would be great to see more coverage of it. It is an indoor sport, so in the winter is it great when you cannot get out onto the field. Handball compliments hurling to no end. We had four players on the under 20 team that are strong handballers.
“You see the skillset someone like Billy Drennan has, not saying it is all from handball, but you can see that touch.”
From a club perspective, Kilkenny has 10 clubs registered according to Kilkennygaa.ie. These clubs service various amounts of members. From an O’Loughlin Gaels perspective, John Morrissey gave us an insight into how the club has bounced back after the pandemic;
“The rivalry in handball is probably not the same in the sense that it is in hurling. We are all pulling from the one pull. We are representing Kilkenny at the end of the day.”
“We are very strong at the minute though, in O’Loughlins, we have 40 juveniles back since October and nearly 50 adults. We are still a little short of where we were a few years ago. Some are a little afraid to get back inside again but please God in the near future we will get them back again.”
Paddy Grogan Memorial Invitational Tournament
Elsewhere the top 6 players in both under 18 and under 16 boys and girls have been selected to participate in the Paddy Grogan memorial invitational tournament taking place in Tyrone. In total that is nine Kilkenny players selected out of a total of 24 players from the whole country. Best of luck to all involved
Under 18 Kyle Jordan (Kilfane) Connor Holden (Kilfane) Harry Delaney (Kells) Amy Brennan (Clogh)
Under 16 Una Duggan (Galmoy Katie Jordan (Kilfane) Katie Brennan (Clough) Anthony Clifford (Talbots inch Noah Manogue (O’Loughlin Gaels)
Listen back to the full interview with Paddy, John, and Frank on Scoreline Extra below :