A piece of Leitrim sporting history will be made this weekend when the Annual GAA Handball Congress takes place in the Landmark Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon.
GAA President Christy Cooney, Handball President Walter O’Connor and over 200 delegates from all over the country will be in attendance on Sunday morning, as the focus of a branch of Ireland’s biggest sporting organisation turns to County Leitrim for the first time in the association’s 127 years.
In a comprehensive review of 2011, to be issued to those attending at the event, GAA Handball CEO Chris Curran will detail an astonishing year for the sport. In his 31-page report, Curran states: “Handball is on a crest of a wave at present and entering a very exciting era for our games.” 60 new clubs have been established, with 160 new clubs since the One-Wall School’s initiative started two years ago.
At International level, Handball’s ambitious announcement for the purpose built World Championships to be held from October 11th to 21st of this year in the Citywest Hotel, Dublin has created widespread excitement.
The Campus will have 13 40 x 20 courts and nine one-wall courts. It is set to become the biggest World Handball Championships ever with 2,000 competitors from 33 countries taking part.
The TG4 Handball Show and highlights on RTÉ is part of the overall strategy and has contributed handsomely to an ever increasing membership and audience.
There are five motions down for consideration at the event. Roscommon Handball have submitted three motions; to hold a national 40 x 20 nationals as in 60 x 30 and 40 x 20 and have also asked that all eye guards would be made compulsory in the 60 x 30 court, with Armagh putting forward a similar motion in for the one-wall code.
Roscommon’s third motion relates to the introduction of a Junior C National Championships in 40 x 20 and 60 x 30.
In little over seven months, GAA 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 will be tuning in live on TG4 and Sky Sports.
The event begins at 11.15am and Leitrim Hanball GAA will be represented by Jamie Murray, John Joe Byrne, Pat Wyrnn, Martin Logan, Johnny McGrath, Mary Shanley and Peter Heaney.
GAA President’s Award
Mr Heaney, from Fenagh, who is also Connaught GAA Handball Council President, has been selected for a GAA President’s Award in recognition of his long term commitment to the development of the game of handball in the county.
Peter has given freely of his time over the years, often fighting an uphill battle for recognition of the game, both in his own club and within the county. Indeed, it is believed that if it wasn’t for Peter’s drive, the game may be non-existent in the county today.
The award will be presented to Peter on Friday night at a gala reception in Croke Park and will be televised live on TG4 from 7.30pm.
TG4 interviewed Mr Heaney in the redeveloped Handball Alley in Fenagh as part of the broadcast.