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History

History of Handball

We are in the process of developing a new & continuous "History Archive" section on our award winning website www.gaahandball.ie and we are welcoming all support and submissions from you the Handball public. 

The purpose of the History section is to offer an array of articles about previous great champions / coaches / figureheads of the game, be it at national, provincial, county or even club level. We at GAA Handball will be continually adding to the section ourselves, reminiscing about great tales & feats of years gone by, but strongly encourage enthusiasts around the country to submit articles to help us grow a comprehensive collection.

It may only be newspaper clippings, iconic photos, or new articles, but we would love your cooperation with this new project whatever your submission.

Please email development.handball@gaa.ie with any submissions or for further information on this project.  

Article Author Date
Handball links to boxing, Hollywood and even NASA
Paul Fitzpatrick 23/8/16
Fantastic community spirit brings historic Taghmon HC back into the fold
Tony Breen 23/8/16
A Wexford tribute to a master craftsman
Tony Breen 23/8/16
Irish Handball Milestones (1884 - 2016)
GAA Handball 18/8/16
Michael ‘Ducksie’ Walsh was a champion to his fingertips Paul Fitzpatrick 12/8/16
Ducksy Walsh Reaped a Golden Harvest
Lorcan O'Rourke 11/8/16
Cullentown Strand, Wexford
Tony Breen 11/8/16
Joey Maher: A moment in his time was a moment to savour
Paul Fitzpatrick 27/5/16
Handball used to be widely played in South Africa
Paul Fitzpatrick
3/5/16
Mike Tyson Playing Handball
Paul Fitzpatrick 3/5/16
Handball fans purring as greatest Cat Carey returns to the court
Paul Fitzpatrick 20/4/16
The Role of Handball in 1916
Paul Fitzpatrick
1/4/16
Willie Delaney - Wexford
Paul Fitzpatrick 23/1/16
The greatest All-Ireland final of all time?
Paul Fitzpatrick 9/11/15
Wexford's Martin O'Neill - A forgotten legend of Irish Handball
Paul Fitzpatrick
7/9/15
Irish Handball Outdoors - 1920 - 1950
Paul Fitzpatrick 19/2/15
History of Handball
Tom O'Connor 28/9/10

Irish Handball Milestones (1884 – 2016)

  • 1884 Handball is included in the G.A.A. Charter as one of the sports to be promoted by the new Association.
  • 1923 The first Handball Championships are sponsored by the G.A.A. in Softball and Hardball.
  • 1924 The Irish Handball Council is established to promote, develop and organise the game.
  • 1925 The first All-Ireland Handball Congress is held. Commencement of All-Ireland Senior Softball and Hardball Championships.
  • 1928 The All-Ireland Junior Softball and Hardball Championships are introduced.
  • 1950 The Provincial Councils are revived.
  • 1963 The first Inter-Varsity Championships are held.
  • 1965 The 60x30 Inter County National League commences.
  • 1966 The first 60x30 Juvenile Championships are held.
  • 1969 The first 40x20 court in Ireland is built at Oldtown, Co. Dublin.
  • 1970 A modern 60x30 court is built at Croke Park for the World Championships.
  • 1971 Comhairle Liathróid Láimhe na mBan is founded. Handball for both sexes is included in the National Community Games.
  • 1973 First RTE Top Ace Competition is shown over a seven-week period.
  • 1974 The Irish Handball Council celebrates its Golden Jubilee. A full-time National Administrator is appointed. The first week-long National Coaching course is held in Gormanston College.
  • 1975 40x20 All-Ireland Championships are played for the first time.
  • 1979 Under 14 and Under 16 40x20 Championships are introduced.
  • 1980 RTE Top Ace competition is opened to International players.
  • 1973-83 During this period, 152 new indoor 40x20 courts and 9 new 60x30 courts are constructed. 25 old 60x30 courts are roofed and 24 60x30 courts are renovated.
  • 1994 The Waterford Crystal National Handball Awards are introduced. Waterford Crystal commence sponsorship of the National Handball Championships.
  • 1995 Staging of the first Irish One Wall Nationals
  • 1925-98 The number of national competitions increase from 3 to 168.
  • 1998 Amalgamation of Comhairle Liathróid Láimhe na hEireann and Comhairle Liathróid Láimhe na mBan.
  • 2003 Formation of Third Level Handball Ireland to promote and develop Handball at higher level education
  • 2003 FBD commence sponsorship of the Irish National Championships
  • 2005 Tele2 Sponsor the US Junior National Squad
  • 2006 The relationship with Martin Donnelly begins, as he becomes the main sponsor of the 60x30 All-Ireland Finals
  • 2007 A full-time Promotions Administrator for handball is employed
  • 2009 Breaffy House, Castlebar hosts the Irish One-Wall Nationals, with over 250 entries
  • 2009 Irish Handball is rebranded as GAA Handball
  • 2011 GAA Handball’s One-Wall for Schools Initiative is launched.
  • 2015 400+ schools have built purpose built One-Wall Handball walls as the One-Wall for Schools Initiative continues to be a massive success.
  • 2016 416 players compete in the Irish One-Wall Nationals in Breaffy House, Castlebar.

Irish Handball Milestones – The International Dimension

  • 1880’s Several Ireland v America contests are held on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • 1924 The Irish Handball Council affiliates to the International Amateur Athletic Association. Court Handball Commission is set up to legislate for Handball in all countries.
  • 1932 England, Scotland and Ireland take part in the Tailteann Games.
  • 1929 Spanish players hold an exhibition match in Dublin.
  • 1932 Irish players travel to Liverpool for exhibition games.
  • 1955 Three American players tour Ireland giving exhibition matches.
  • 1964 Five countries compete in the first World Handball Championships in New York.
  • 1967 The second World Handball Championships are held in Toronto, Canada.
  • 1970 The third World Handball Championships are held in Dublin.
  • 1974 An international team takes part in the Irish Handball Council Jubilee games in all four Provinces.
  • 1980 RTE Top Ace competition is opened to international players and screened in the USA.
  • 1981 First official Irish team competes in the USHA Junior Championships. Ireland wins the 15 & Under title.
  • 1984 The fourth World Handball Championships are held in Dublin and Clare.
  • 1985 Irish players win the USHA 17 & Under, 19 & Under and 23 & Under titles.
  • 1986 The fifth World Handball Championships are held in Canada.
  • 1988 The sixth World Handball Championships are held in Australia. International Millennium Tournament is held in Dublin.
  • 1991 The seventh World Handball Championships are held in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Irish players win four titles.
  • 1994 The eighth Waterford Crystal World Handball Championships are held in Clare, Dublin, Kildare and Meath venues. 650 players from 10 countries take part in 39 events. Irish players win 20 titles. 1995 The first European One-Wall Handball Championships are held in Wales.
  • 1997 The second European One-Wall Handball Championships are held in Roscommon with eight countries participating. The Ninth Waterford Crystal World Handball Championships are held in Winnipeg, Canada.
  • 1999 The tenth World Handball Championships are held in Chicago, USA.
  • 2002 Irish players travel to the Basque Country for a series of exhibition matches
  • 2003 The 11th World Handball Championships are held in Ireland in Kilkenny, Carlow, Wicklow, Laois, Cavan and Dublin venues. Over 1,100 players take part, with Cavan's Paul Brady winning the Men's Open Singles.
  • 2004 Establishment of the Pro Handball Association in America, where Paul Brady takes $50,000 at the Ultimate Showdown, defeating American handball legend, David Chapman
  • 2006 Ireland take 38 titles across all grades (Open, Adult, Juvenile) at the World Handball Championships in Edmonton, Canada
  • 2007 Irish players take part in their first International One-wall Tournament in the Basque Country.
  • 2008 Ireland competes in the first Federations Cup in Italy
  • 2009 Ireland collect 37 titles across all grades (Open, Adult, Juvenile) at the World Handball Championships in Portland, Oregon. Fiona Shannon collects her 3rd consecutive World Ladies Open Title.
  • 2012 Ireland host the largest World Handball Championships ever, with 1800 players playing in a temporary purpose 23 court arena at the Citywest Convention Centre, Dublin.
  • 2015 Cavan’s Paul Brady wins an unprecedented 5th consecutive World Men’s Open title at the 2016 World Championships in Calgary. Belfast’s Aisling Reilly wins her 2nd consecutive Ladies Open title.

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View GAA Handball Roll of Honours Past Presidents