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Best of 2012: A defining year for GAA Handball

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 proved to be a most significant year for GAA Handball Ireland with a series of major highlights to report on.

Cavan’s Paul Brady had the most decisive season ever delivered by an Irish handballer having secured a record breaking 4th successive world open singles crown, in a thrilling final win over USA’s Luis Moreno (winning 21-19, 21-12) which also had a record attendance of 5,000+ spectators. He also added a record 8th successive All Ireland Senior singles title win, a 7th US National Championship, a Canadian National Championship and a US Open of Handball triumph in November.

• World Handball Championships: GAA Handball Ireland played host to the biggest and most innovative World Championships in the history of the sport. For the first time ever in handball internationally, a purpose-built 21 court arena was erected in just 10 days at the Citywest arena and this effectively catered for the following record breaking championship:

- 2084 players from a total of 27 countries around the world

- 3,286 matches in total played,

- 231 volunteers supporting the overall organization of this massive task.

- Event was officially sponsored by Fáilte Ireland and brought significant GAA financial investment and support from the Croke Park team to aid what has been labeled as a huge success for the GAA and the sport worldwide

- GAA Handball continues to gain major recognition in the international sports arena with continued plans to secure Olympic status for the sport through the formation of the new International handball federation, comprising 27 countries.

- On the playing front, the highlight was provided by Paul Brady’s record breaking 4th successive world open singles crown, in a thrilling final win over USA’s Luis Moreno (winning 21-19, 21-12) which also had a record attendance of 5,000+ spectators

- Aisling Reilly (Antrim) secured the ladies open world title for the first time in her career at the event.

In addition to the World Championship scene in Ireland, Paul Brady also secured the All Ireland senior 40x20 crown for a record 8th successive season, and followed up by teaming with Michael Finnegan to win the doubles final by 21-20 in the third game against Meath’s Tom Sheridan and Brian Carroll. Brady also added the US National Championship in June, The Canadian National Championship in July and the US Open of Handball in November.

It was also a big year for Westmeath’s Robbie McCarthy who secured back to back M Donnelly All Ireland 60x30 Senior titles, defeating Dublin’s Eoin Kennedy again in the final while Meath’s Sheridan and Carroll claimed the doubles in the big court. McCarthy also added the 40x20 Irish Nationals and the Mens Open One Wall Nationals crown.

In the club championships, Kells of Meath had a huge year in winning both the 60x30 and 40x20 Open Club championships, while in the traditional hardball series, Limerick senior footballer, Seamus O’Carroll secured his first All Ireland senior gold medal.

On the ladies handball scene, Aisling Reilly claimed the US Nationals in addition to her World senior singles triumph while Fiona Shannon was All Ireland senior singles Ladies Senior doubles triumphs with her sister, Sibeal Gallagher. Lorraine Havern maintained her status as the queen of Irish One Wall Handball with her Nationals success and Cork’s Catriona Casey took the 60x30 ladies senior honours for the very first time while Mayo’s Pauline Corrigan and Amy Corrigan collected again in the Ladies 60x30 doubles.

Overall, there has been continued rapid progress made by GAA Handball, with a rise of almost now 100% in members and participation in the past 5 year period, with 60 new clubs and over 200 additional new schools to have constructed one wall handball facilities and taking part in the One Wall Schools initiative.

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