many thanks for again taking the time to read this latest festive edition with news from the world of GAA Handball…
This has been another fantastic year for GAA Handball Ireland with many highlights to reflect upon in the sport both on and off the court. Of course we are thrilled about the prospect of 2012 being the best to date with the World Championships set to take place in October 2012 in Dublin.
Since the launch in January 2011 of our new handball TV series, ‘The GAA Handball Show’, the profile of the game and increase in popularity around the country has been phenomenal to say the least. The association has now enjoyed an increase in membership of 30% and new clubs x62 in the past few seasons and this is set to rocket even further in 2012. The fact that over 120 schools have now constructed and are revelling in their new One Wall Handball Facilities around the country is another huge boost and this is an initiative that is set to be developed even further in the year ahead.
The new series of ‘The GAA Handball Show’ is now just over one week away as handball, GAA and indeed all sporting enthusiasts can enjoy 8 episodes commencing on Monday 2nd January 2012 on TG4. There will be four double episodes in total of the show from 8.30pm to 9.30pm every Monday night in January. There will then be four further shows at the end of April 2012 focussing on the All Ireland 40×20 Open Championships and Irish Nationals and looking ahead to the World Handball Championships in 2012.
The 2011 GAA Handball National All-Star Awards Banquet proved to be another fantastic occasion in November with over 440 GAA Handball fans present to celebrate the many terrific highlights from the year gone by. This will form the main focus in Episode 1 of the series and further details of this are below.
The year gone by had an endless array of highlights on the court but possibly the most significant for Handball in Ireland off the court was the launch of GAA Handball Ireland’s new Strategic Vision for the Future Document (2011-2016), which provides a roadmap for all our members, officials and players to ensure sustained growth into the future. It is imperative that I point out the incredible work which went into this plan by the many volunteers and committee members as well as the excellent input from all levels of our organisation around the country. Sincere thanks and I can assure you all full support as we continue to implement and strive to achieve our goals.
I must also welcome our two new members of staff in Croke Park and believe this will provide much needed support and resources following the ever increasing demands placed on the Office, in light of such significant growth in GAA Handball. Eavan Mulligan is our new Operatioins Manager and Darragh Daly takes up the role of National Development Officer and I wish them both very well in their roles in 2012.
On the playing front as we issue this latest e-zine, our Irish Junior Handball Team will be travelling to Tucson, Arizona, for the US Junior International Championships. Managed by Tom Sheridan and Paula Clarke the team will no doubt again wear the Irish jersey with pride and distinction and we wish them a very safe festive trip.
2011 was a year of excellent highlights on the courts and the emergence in particular of Westmeath’s Robbie McCarthy had possibly the greatest impact. The Mullingar clubman claimed an Irish 40×20 Nationals Open success, All Ireland Senior Hardball and 60×30 Softball title wins and followed up in October with an incredible US Open win at his first attempt. Of course he picked up the National Male Handballer of the Year Award while Kerry’s Maria Daly collected the ladies award in light of her unprecedented All Ireland senior singles championship successes in both courts. Paul Brady continued his record breaking run of title wins in the 40×20 and remains unbeaten in that court for 8 years while Fiona Shannon bounced back with a US Nationals double triumph in June.
The One Wall Nationals in June provided a plethora of highlights, none moreso in the fact that a record 600+ players participated while Puerto Rico, USA, England and Italy also travelled to mix it with Ireland’s best.
The Irish Junior 40×20 Nationals had a record 352 players which can only augur extremely well for the future and the launch of the inaugural Irish 60×30 Nationals further highlighted GAA Handball Ireland’s commitment to ensure promotion of our fantastic traditional game.
The 2012 Calendar of Events has now also been released and we are excited about the considerable series of promotional, development and coaching resources and literature which will be launched in January 2012. These will further enhance our sport’s reputation nationally and will provide untold benefits for all our members in clubs and schools everywhere.
Possibly the big end of year announcement surrounds the 2012 World Handball Championships. The Official Worlds 2012 site ha now gone live and will be updated considerably as new and exciting news releases follow commencing in January. We promise to keep you updated as all official news is broken on this site regarding the Worlds.
Click onto www.worldhandball2012.com for more
Our own GAAHandball TV site will also attract huge interest when launched in February 2012 and initially will provide viewers with an opportunity to look back on all the GAA Handball Show episodes (15 by the time of launch) and will include feature pieces on all our development tours around Ireland as well as our new series of World Championship Promotional Advertisements – keep an eye out for these – we think you will be pleased!
By Wednesday 11th January 2012 all our Club and County Officials will receive our New Club Registration Scheme details, forms and plans. This is a new innovative approach being developed by the association and will provide a unique opportunity for all our Clubs to also raise considerable development funds for themselves – with no outlay! Further details will follow on January 11th.
GAA Handball Ireland will also be launching a new Individual ‘Chairde Liathróid Láimhe’ Scheme for members to benefit from a host of exciting rewards as part of a scheme being developed to provide a National Development fund for Club grants by end of 2012.
Keep an eye out on all the above with a number of incredible Opportunities for Clubs to ‘WIN a Handball Court’ from the 2012 World Championships…
GAA Handball are also on facebook, which you can access by clicking on the link below and joining as a fan.
Click here for the GAA Handball Facebook Page…
And dont forget the Official National Website – www.gaahandball.ie – which will continue to be developed throughout 2012, having now crossed 300,000 hits since its launch and continuing to increase with each month.
Again I would like to stress the many terrific benefits of the game of handball to everyone. This is a sport which can be played by boys and girls, men and women, of all ages. It is a fantastic game for anyone looking to compete at club or indeed world level, yet significantly is a game which provides immense health benefits while having guaranteed fun. We have promoted this in many ways in our TV Handball series and hope you, your family and friends are ready to take up the challenge in your area too!
Finally, I must mention that GAA Handball take immense pride and gratification in seeing the many thousands of players, young and old, enjoying a terrific family and community game. On that note we must also pass on our sincerest sympathies to the many families and communities throughout Ireland who have been hit with overwhelming tragedies in 2011. I can say that the prayers of the GAA Handball family everywhere are with you all.
May I wish you all a very peaceful and happy Christmas and hope that 2012 will be kind to you also.
Bealtaine mé mian leat go léir an-sásta, sláintiúil agus síochánta Nollag agus Bliain Nua saibhre
Is mise le meas,
Chief Executive Officer,
GAA Handball Ireland,
Croke Park, Dublin 3