The inaugural London Team 1-Wall Championships were held at Forest Gate on Sunday and three teams from across the capital city took part, including the long-standing Westway club, hosts Forest Gate and newcomers to the handball scene, Thomas McCurtains GAA club. After a marathon 42 games, with scores in each game being aggregated, it was Forest Gate that made the most of their home advantage to ensure the new trophy stays in East London.
The day started with singles action, with Luke Thomson and Fionn O’Sullivan going unbeaten to establish a 26 point gap over their nearest rivals. Westway battled back during the doubles rounds, with Matt Shaw, in particular, excelling. However, they only narrowed the gap to 15 points, as Forest Gate clung on for victory. The expertise of Luke Thomson was crucial and he will take confidence from this victory into next week’s UK Open. Team GB Junior’s international Genesis Ngenga and Christian Blackaby held their own, while the O’Sullivan brothers, Fionn and Conor, claimed some crucial points for the east Londoners.
After 100 years in existence as a GAA club, it was a first handball tournament for the Thomas McCurtains club and in a very short space of time, they have grown into a formidable force. Veteran club members Colm Grace and Ray Carty were complemented by the youthful Cathal McCarthy and Sam McCarthy, with the powerful Paddy Fox dominating the right-hand side against all opposition.
The Westway club predictably brought a lot of skill on the day and could have overcome Forest Gate in the closing stages. In the game of the day, the ageless Dan Grant and speed of Matt Shaw brought about a large lead over Thomson and Blackaby. But the latter rallied to clinch a tense 21-20 victory. The experienced Luke Stradwick, Dan Thackeray and Catherine Vos gave the Westway club a lot of confidence that they can gain revenge next year.
The tournament was a massive success, with the attendance greatly entertained. The tournament is expected to grow next year with further teams, in particular the Canada Water club, who have their official opening later this week. For now, the hectic schedule continues with the UK Open being held in Westway next weekend. Several of the top players from across Europe and America, will compete for valuable ranking points on the Euro 1 Wall tour.