October was a milestone in GAA history with the once every three years World Handball Championships being staged in Ireland.

But GAA activity wasn’t just confined to handball during last month, so the battle for our Quinn-direct/UGAAWA Monthly Award was closely contested. However, the handball highlight just could not be surpassed and getting the gong for October 2012 is AISLING REILLY.

Aisling Reilly receiving her Merit Award from UGAAWA Chairman JP Graham (left) and treasurer Tony McGee (right) Pic: Jim Dunne

The St Paul’s (Belfast) member shot to the top of the world by taking the Women’s Open 40x20 Singles title, in the process defeating her club colleague Fiona Shannon, the reigning World Champion since 2003, in a tie-breaker final. Two days later, Aisling flew off to California and won the US Women’s Open Singles final for the second time in three years.
 “October was certainly one of the best months of my life and I’m absolutely delighted to add this award to the list. Competition for the award is always very strong with football, hurling, camogie and handball to choose from so, to get the award, is special,” enthuses Aisling (23).

“Naturally, winning the World title was the highlight of the month and I had to fight hard to achieve it. Fiona has been a great champion down the years and I had to fight for every point in the final to beat her.”

She adds: “I would like to thank everyone who sent me messages over the last couple of weeks. My facebook and twitter literally never stopped. They were unbelievable and meant a lot.

Aisling Reilly (centre) with her sisters Bronagh (left) and Grainne (right) who help her to hold her October awards.

“In particular, I want to give a special mention and massive thank you to the Sport Institute Northern Ireland for their continued support over the last few years. The encouragement and help I continue to receive from all at SINI have obviously benefited me massively. The countless hours spent in the S+C gym and on court with Mark 'Killer' Kilgallon and Ricky McCann, the physio team, and all the other service Areas, I am lucky enough to benefit from on a daily basis, made winning the World Championship possible and a reality for me.”

John P Graham, UGAAWA Chairman, presented Aisling with her Quinn-direct/UGAAWA Award of an engraved Belleek Living vase, Garrett Mallon designed and engraved jewellery, training gear from O’Neill’s International Sports, an UGAAWA Sports Voucher and two tickets plus overnight accommodation for the Silver Jubilee Banquet, on December 7 in Bundoran.


Photography © Jim Dunne