by Deirdre Fahey
On Saturday 3rd of November, Swinford Handball supporters were out in force to welcome home Pauline Gallagher and Kevin Geraghty who both achieved world titles in the recent World Handball Championships which took place in Citywest Dublin. The duo were met by the Midfield Pipe Band and escorted to the Gateway Hotel by An Garda Siochana. There they were met by public representatives from various community groups in Swinford including Swinford GAA, Swinford Tidy Towns Committee and Swinford Karate Club to name but a few. Kevin Fahey was the MC for the occassion and welcomed clergy, players, politicians and all who had come especially to welcome our two world heroes. TD John O Mahoney spoke about how proud he was to be part of a very unique occassion in the history of sport in Swinford and congratulated both players on what they had acheived for their club, community and country. Cllr Joe Mellet spoke of his pride of being a Swinford man on an occassion such as this and recounted that when he had placed an ad in the paper for those interested in handball with a view to renovating the Paddy Bollingbrook Alley he could not of dreamed of an outcome such as two world titles. Joe recounted his memories of the legendary Paddy Bollingbrook and what he had achieved in his handball career. Cllr Gerry Murray recounted numerous games that he had attended over the years and the great champions he had witnessed playing from Swinford and Charlestown. Assistant Chairman of Swinford GAA Michael Smyth addressed the players and attendees on behalf of Swinford GAA and congratulated both Pauline, Kevin and the other All Ireland title winners from Swinford who were present. Vincent Walsh congratulated Kevin and Pauline on their wonderful achievments on the world stage on behalf of the East Mayo County Board. Chairman of Mayo GAA Handball Board Gus Heraty praised both players for their World title wins on behalf of the County Board and congratulated all those who had won titles over the last year in Mayo.
MC Kevin Fahey gave a brief history of the reformed Swinford Handball Club since 2003 and what had been achieved including no less than 48 All Ireland titles alongside the two world titles. He named each player who had won a title since 2004 and congratulated those who had taken part in all competitions over the years. Kevin and Pauline both addressed the crowd and thanked all those who had supported them before and during their world title bids. Kevin also took the opportunity to congratulate Kevin Fahey, Jennifer Fahey and Eugene Maloney along with his partner Michael Munelly who had won All Ireland titles this year. Kevin Fahey finished by thanking all the Mayo Handball clubs who were present together with Swinford GAA, handball historian Fr Martin Jennings and all other community members who had turned out in force to make this a night to remember in Swinford for a very long time. He also thanked all the current and former officers of the club who had trained young people to bring them to World and All Ireland status level. Kevin thanked Cathal Kelly and the Kelly family who are renowned GAA supporters for providing food, venue and entertainment for the large crowd who attended. Celebrations continued long into the night to ensure a memorable occassion was had by all present. Swinford GAA Handball Club would like to say well done to these two extraordinary exponents of handball and thanks to all concerned for giving Swinford a night to remember.
back row- Michael Munnelly, Cllr Joe Mellett, Kevin Fahey, Eugeane Malloney, Michael Smyth-Chairman Swinford Gaa, Gus Heraty-Chairman Mayo Handball, John O'Mahoney T.D. Cllr Gerry Murry.
Front row- George Miller, Yvonne Irwin, Pauline Gallagher, Kevin Geraghty, Jennifer Fahey, Deirdre Fahey, Martin Vahey-Mayo Handball Secretary.