In Senior Ranks

Following his success in the Junior grade, Seamus McCabe stepped up to Senior ranks but it was three years before he really began to make his presence felt among the Big Shots of the Handball game.

In 1965 he won both the Ulster Senior Singles titles Hadball and Softball. Not content with this however, he went further and made history by becoming the first Ulsterman ever to reach the All-Ireland Senior Hardball Singles Final, only to lose to Peadar McGee of Mayo. In the Softball game he lost to Ritchie Lyng of Wexford in the semi-final.

Then came 1966 and Seamus McCabe was really on the warpath. His clashes with McGee and Lyng in the 1965 series had given him the experience he needed and in his next clashes with these two stars, the boot would most certainly be on the other foot.

For McCabe, 1966 was truly a remarkable year as he set out on a real history shattering course. During the year he made history by becoming the first Ultsterman to reach both All-Ireland Senior Handball Finals Hardball and Softball. More history was made when he became the first Ulterman to win an All-Ireland Senior Handball championship, capturing the Softball Singles crown at Balymote, Co. Sligo, on Sunday, 18th September.

This great victory also gave him the honour of being the first Monaghan man ever to win an All-Ireland Senior medal.

Earlier in the year he had retained both his Ulster Senior titles and this proved to be the first major step on the road to glory. The coveted "All-Ireland Double" (Senior Hardball & Softball Championships) was well and truly in his sights at the Kells alley on Sunday, 14th August, when he scored a sell deserved 2-1 victory over the reigning All-Ireland Softball Champion, Ritchie Lyng (Wexford).

This great victory over Lyng was the sensation of the year in Handball circles. Lyng, as holder of the title, was hot favourite and was leading comfortably by 17-7 in the third and decisive game. But what a shock was in store for everyone as McCabe staged a dramatic recovery to win the game 21-18. Few had reckoned with the ability and unyielding spirit of the Monaghan man, but win he did, as the score 21-9, 3-21, 21-18 was to show in the sports columns of all the daily newspapers the following morning.

Then came September and the long trip over to Ballymote and Seamus McCabe's dreams came true as he scored a great 2-1 victory over his old adversary, Peadar McGee (Mayo).

Monaghan had won its first ever Senior All-Ireland medal and Ulster its first ever Handball title in the Senior Grade. Before a packed gallery packed mainly with Monaghan and Ulster supporters the Connacht player appeared to have the title in his pocket when after winning the first game, he led in the second 12-6. Then came the turn and McCabe got on top to win this game 21-19 and also to win the third 21-10. The full result was (McCabe's score first): - 11-21, 21-19, 21-10. What a reception there as for the new champion at Clones that night as he bore the big All-Ireland trophy proudly aloft and was accorded a civic welcome by the townsfolk.


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