Fiona Tully is in a league of her own

Conor Breslin

Fiona Tully created history in Belfast by becoming the first person ever in Irish Handball to hold all the possible trophies available. 

Having won the 60×30 singles and doubles (with partner Meadhbh Ní Dhaláigh) she had to go on to do the same in the small alley in the centre of Belfast, winning both the singles and doubles in 40×20, something that has never been completed by anybody, male or female, before in this sport. She also joins an elite group of players that have won the 40×20 singles tournament three times in a row.

DCU had a great weekend in Belfast for the ICHA third level 40X20 Colleges Competition. The Northside University had 13 competitors, coming home with two gold and two silver medals.

Aoife Holden (DCU) won the Women’s A Title, beating Clionadh O’Connell (UL), while Meadhbh Ní Dhaláigh bowed out in the quarter final of the women’s Open to finalist Niamh Heffernan (UL).

Fiona Tully overcame Kelly Curran and Eilise McCrory (who Tully has claimed was her toughest ever opponent) to advance to the final where she defeated Niamh Heffernan on a score line of two sets to one. After claiming the Open title for the third year in a row and while reflecting on her momentous achievement Tully stated:

“It is an absolute honour and one I will cherish for a long time.”

“I didn’t get time to think about the occasion because I was so caught up in the moment. I was leading well in the final set, but Niamh never gave up and slowly started catching up, I was lucky enough to come out the winner. It was only when the game was over that you start to think about what you have done and then you begin to enjoy it,” said Tully.

Tully’s dominance in gaelic handball originated when she took up the sport in her youth after following her sister and her sister’s friend to their local club St Colemans in their native town of Roscommon.

“My sister and her friend used to go down to the handball alley and one day I went with them and I’ve played ever since,” Tully said.

Tully has become a dominate figure in handball over the last year. Besides winning this trophy for the third year in a row, the third-year Arts student at DCU also claimed the Women’s Open Doubles with Meadhbh Ní Dhálaigh for the third year in a row in Galway last November. Tully is also the holder of the US Open Doubles championship which she won in the Los Cabolleros complex in Santa Barbara California min July 2019.

Tully who is now ranked fifth in the Irish rankings and is now set to make a return to the US this month to compete in the US Association Colleges Competition in Texas alongside her partner Meadhbh Ní Dhálaigh.

Conor Breslin

Image Credit: DCU Handball