Top handballers honoured at Rosslare Municipal District civic awards

Report by AOB

Two of Wexford’s handball stars were among those honoured at the annual Rosslare Municipal District (RMD) civic awards held recently in Johnstown Castle. 2023 All Ireland masters double winner David Stanners and youthful Taghmon star Mark Doyle had their achievements recognised at a ceremony which highlighted the skills and talents of people from the district.

Cathaoirleach of the RMD Lisa McDonald, spoke in glowing terms of David Stanners at the opening presentation of the night, “David is a real role model and a relative latecomer to the game having only began playing 15 years ago,” she said. “He knew he had to hone his skills and his fitness to achieve at the highest level and that was what he did. He has made a lot of sacrifices but that has been the secret to his success. He has passed on his trade to many young people in the St Martin’s handball club and is joined here by his family and members of the club, who are all very proud of him.”

The multiple county, Leinster and All champion mentioned his brothers Sean and James for not giving him “anything easy on the court and constantly pushing him forward” and he also spoke of plans to develop a new one-wall handball court in Murrintown Community Centre, which he said held special memories for him. “The court will be a fantastic addition for boys, girls, men, and women of all ages, it’s an extremely inclusive game because it’s a non-contact sport, a sport for all, a sport for life. I played many sports on that court, I even had my first slow dance there,” he said.

Mark Doyle is one of Ireland’s brightest stars and is now attending Minnesota State University on a sports scholarship. Lisa McDonald told the gathering “Mark hails from a well-known handball family and lots of them have won handball titles through the years,” she said. “He has won ten national titles, two All-Ireland titles, and two world championships. We in the Rosslare district are very proud of his achievements and in particular, the scholarship he has earned to Minnesota State University on the strength of his handball skills.” Aged 19, Mark is now ranked 11 on the US pro tour and his dad Robbie said they knew from an early stage that this was a young man destined for a career in the sport.

“From the time he was three or four years old we knew he was going to be a handballer, there was nothing else in his head,” said Robbie. “He used to be in the old house in Traceystown, where my father was reared, rooting for old medals, memorabilia, books and as a little child he would be running across the yard with handball books. He was no better than any juvenile when he started, he got a lot of beatings coming up and I always say to any juvenile there is only one way to achieve, you have to train and put in the hours. Mark trained hard, he trained every day and now he’s reaping his rewards”.