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Handball stars shine brightly in London

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by Con Dennehy

Irish eyes were smiling in London at the weekend following phenomenal performances by Killarney’s handball stars at the prestigious United Kingdom Open One Wall Championship.

The standout players of the championships were Eoin O’Donoghue (Killarney) and John Joe Quirke (Glenbeigh) who were the pride of the Irish on Saturday and Sunday. They put in a devastating display of skill and passion to win the extremely competitive Men’s Doubles B Championship. After prevailing in a number of their opening games, they progressed to the semi-finals where they defeated the French duo of Tom Dutheil and Florina Vaujany 21-11.

In a hard-fought final, the Kerry players beat Naoise Green and Fionn Ó Súilleabháin (Ireland) 25-20 thanks in part to some great play from O’Donoghue.

“I was delighted with the win – it’s a great boost for handball in Kerry,” Eoin said. “We had to use all our experience and skill to edge past the Irish duo and win the title. It’s a great honour for my club, Spa Killarney. Many Kerry people living in London and our own families supported us on both days and this made winning the title very special.

“My doubles partner, John Joe, had a great weekend, winning the singles final and a silver medal in the over 40s doubles event.”

Teams from Ireland, England, France, Italy, USA, UK and Israel competed in the championships with four players from Killarney taking part.

In the Men’s C Singles competition, O’Donoghue finished mid-table in Group B following victories over Irish players Ger Scahill and Ray Carthy and defeat at the hands of James Toop (England) and Declan Keenan.

There was more success for Killarney in the over 40s competition as Brendan O’Donoghue and John Joe Quirke finish runners up in this hotly contested category. They were narrowly defeated by the American team of Carlos Torres and Jay Sanchez.

Elsewhere, Aoife Walsh and Sinéad Moriarty from Spa Killarney Handball Club both reached the semi-finals of the Women’s Singles competition. Walsh defeated Isabel Power (England) 21-4 but lost to Catherine Vos (England) and fellow Irish players Aoife McCarthy and Sinéad Hanley. She lost to Siobhan Prentice 21-16 in the semi-final.

Moriarty was defeated by Anastasya Spiridonov (Israel) and Irish players Sabrina Hughes and Siobhan Prentice while in the semi-final she was defeated by Catherine Vos (England) in a very exciting contest.

There was some consolation for the Killarney pair in the doubles competition where they finished a very credible third overall and just out of the medals after a classic encounter with the English duo of India Blaksley and Becky Connell.

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Valuable role of Kerry cancer support charity recognised nationally

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Cancer support charity Recovery Haven Kerry has been recognised for its vital role in supporting cancer patients and their families at a national ceremony in Dublin.

The renowned cancer support house was one of 16 such centres across Ireland that were presented with plaques to acknowledge their full membership of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) Alliance – a group made up of voluntary and charity organisations delivering support services directly to cancer patients and their families. An additional 10 associate member charities were also honoured, including Kerry Cancer Support Group.

The Alliance advocates for, and supports, the development of integrated pathways between the cancer centres, acute hospitals, community cancer support services and primary care services. All members’ development is in line with the values of Sláintecare, seeking to provide assurance to healthcare professionals that these organisations are working to an agreed standard as set out in Best Practice Guidance published by the NCCP. 

Speaking after the ceremony, which was held at Dublin’s Farmleigh Estate, Recovery Haven Kerry Chairman, Tim McSwiney, explained that being compliant with the Best Practice Guidance for Community Cancer Support Centres is a true mark of quality. 

“It offers us a yardstick to measure what we are doing against the standards required. As a result, healthcare professionals have more confidence in referring people to our services. We are very proud to be a member of the Alliance,” he said.

Recovery Haven Kerry was represented at the event by centre manager, Gemma Fort and Client Services Co-Ordinator, Siobhan MacSweeney and were presented with their plaque by NCCP Lead for Cancer Survivorship, Louise Mullen, Clinical Lead for Psycho-Oncology Dr Helen Greally, and Minister of State at the Department of Health, Colm Burke. 

The event was also used as an opportunity to announce funding of €3m for the NCCP’s Alliance of Community Cancer Support Centres and Services through Budget 2024. The NCCP is currently in the process of distributing these funds which will directly and positively impact the delivery of services for patients and families nationally.

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‘More Precious Than Gold’ book launch

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At the official book launch of ‘More Precious Than Gold: My enduring connection with John McShain – the man who built Washington’ by Alice O’Neill-McLoughlin at Killarney House, was Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, T.D.

Alice was born the eldest of eleven children into an Irish farming family in Rosbercon, New Ross, County Wexford. In 1978, she was awarded a scholarship from John McShain- the iconic builder, philanthropist, devout Catholic with Derry ancestry, responsible for many famous American landmarks, including the Jefferson Memorial and the Pentagon.

Her book records the lifelong personal correspondence Alice exchanged with ‘The Man Who Built Washington.’ His philanthropy extended to the Irish people in the bequeathing to the State of Killarney House and the surrounding thousands of acres incorporating the Lakes, Ross Castle, and Innisfallen Island. In 2019, Alice had the honour of inducting John McShain into the Irish America Hall of Fame in her home town of New Ross in the presence of his relatives from Philadelphia and Derry. This is a tale of altruism, of gratitude, of faith and of a life lived in the pursuit of excellence.

Alice also donated her treasured correspondence of letters from John McShain for the archive at Killarney House. Also in attendance were Members of the Ignatius A. O’Shaughnessy family, who was founder of The Globe Oil and Refining Company – and part of a consortium of wealthy American businessmen who were going to purchase the lakes of Killarney as a Country Club in the 1950’s.

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