Monday, March 12, 2012

National Handball Congress preview

Carrick-on-Shannon host historic Handball Congress

The Annual G.A.A. Handball Congress will take place in the Landmark Hotel Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday starting at 11.15 a.m. writes Michael McGee.
It is an historic occasion in Leitrim handball to host Congress. Christy Cooney Uachtar├ín Cumann Luthcleas Gael, Walter O’ Connor President G.A.A Handball and over 200 delegates from all over the Country will be in attendance.
In a comprehensive thirty-one page review G.A.A Handball C.E.O Chris Curran detailed quite an astonishing year in handball. In his report to Congress Curran stated that “G.A.A Handball is on a crest of a wave at present & entering a very exciting era for our games. Sixty new clubs have been established and one hundred and sixty since the One-Wall School’s initiative started 2 years ago.”
The Associations new ”Strategic vision of the future 2011-2016” which took 18 months to complete and included considerable input from officials, players, members and key bodies such as the G.A.A, Irish Sports Council & National Governing bodies. At International level G.A.A Handball ambitious announcement for the purpose built World Championships to be held from October 11th-21st this year in the Citywest Hotel campus Dublin, has created widespread exciting but no little trepidation according to the C.E.O. The Campus will have 13 40 x 20 courts & 9 One-Wall courts. It is set to become the biggest World Handball Championships ever with 2000 competitors from 33 Countries taking part. The formation of a new unified International Handball Federation known as WWBA (World Wall Ball Association) is also warmly welcomed by the C.E.O.
The TG4 Handball Show and highlights on RTE is part of the overall strategy has contributed handsomely to an ever increasing membership and audience. The C.E.O. is however disappointed that the new National Handball Centre in Croke Park has not started yet despite getting the green light from Dublin City Council & Bord Pleanala. Continued discussions have taken place with the Dublin Handball Committee. Chris Curran is in no doubt that “we are not too far away in moving the plan forward and GAA Handball will stand with pride in one of the finest and prestigious Handball arenas in the world sooner rather than later.”
Ard Comhairle was responsible for the running of 311 competitions and increase of 36 from 2010 figures. Cavan’s Paul Brady was congratulated on breaking Clare’s John Kirby’s 7-in-a-row record and 8th overall. Westmeath’s Robbie McCarthy won an historic first Men’s Open 60 x 30 singles title for Westmeath. In the Ladies championships Kerry’s Maria Daly became only the second player to win both the 60 x 30 & 40 x 20 singles championships. In National tournaments a staggering 542 entered in the 2011 One-Wall Nationals held in Castlebar. A combined today of 564 entered in both the Junior 40 x 20 & 60 x 30 nationals while 158 took part in the inaugural 60 x 30 Nationals. Robbie McCarthy & Fiona Shannon secured the Irish 40 x 20 titles and represented Ireland winning the U.S. Open & U.S. Ladies titles respectively. The Irish Junior team completed dominated the U.S Junior nationals with Killian Carroll Cork, Colin Crehan & Colin Corbett both Clare, Catriona Casey Cork, Lauren O’Riordain Roscommon & Ciana Ni Churraoin Galway all securing titles. Curran described the current crop of young stars “as one of the most talented group of young players to have ever travelled to an International event for Ireland.”
The entire results and roll of honour list is chronicled in great detail. There are 5 motions down for consideration. Roscommon has submitted 3 motions; to hold an one-wall nationals as in 60 x 30 & 40 x 20. Their second motion is that all eye guards would be made compulsory in the 60 x 30 court. Armagh have a similar motion in for the one-wall code. Roscommon’s third motion relates to the introduction of an Junior C National championships in 40 x 20 & 60 x 30.
Chris Curran C.E.O. just three years in the role has transformed what was a tired looking Association into one that is now a vibrant, forward thinking, world sporting body and a passionate member of the G.A.A. family. In a little over 7 months time G.A.A. Handball will be on the World Stage. With thousands of players from all over the world, thousands more spectators converging on Dublin and countless millions that will be tuning in live on TG4 & Sky Sports it looks like only a matter of time that this most Irish of Irish Sports will finally become an Olympic Sport. Even St. Patrick will be smiling on the Irish handball pilgrims at the weekend.

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