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Casey: ‘It’s a huge honour to represent Ireland on the world stage’

This year is a very special one for GAA Handball as the association celebrates its centenary and pivotal to that will be the staging of two major international events. In August, the World Wallball Championships will take place at the University of Limerick, with a large entry expected from around a dozen countries. In October, the World 4-Wall Championships will be hosted at Croke Park and other Leinster venues.

Catriona Casey recently won the trials to book her place on Team Ireland for the Wallball (the new name for One-Wall) event and feels it is a huge boost to the sport and the region in general.

“I am very excited for the upcoming Wallball World Championships in August. It is the first time wallball and 4-Wall have been split up for the World Championships, allowing us to focus on one code at a time and hopefully bring our best performances,” she said.

“It is always a huge honour to represent Ireland on the world stage and it is a big bonus that the Worlds are being held only over the road in UL. Hopefully we will see good participation and support in Limerick this summer.”

Catriona was in attendance at yesterday’s Munster derby between Clare and Cork in the first round of the All-Ireland SFC and admitted she had divided loyalties of sorts.

Catriona is a native of Ballydesmond, Co Cork, very close to the Kerry border, but has been living in Ennis for two years, where she is employed as a primary schoolteacher in the CBS school.

Complicating things further is the fact that Catriona’s boyfriend, Conor Stack, is physio with the Clare team.

“My home club, Ballydesmond in Co Cork, is in a predominantly football area and I played football myself for many years. My family is very into sport and we’ve always watched all the matches in both hurling and football so I’ll definitely be at the match,” Catriona said.

“I am a passionate Corkwoman at heart but there is a bit of a conflict of interest there as my boyfriend Conor Stack is involved with the Clare set-up as physio and I’ve followed them around the country over the last few years as well, supporting them.

Catriona has started a coaching programme in her school which has proven very successful thus far.

“It’s been a pleasure to introduce handball to the pupils there. We have erected a full-size One-Wall handball court in our PE hall where children from various classes have learned the basic skills of the sport.

“While there is a great tradition of handball in the county, there isn’t a court currently in the town of Ennis. Some children from the school have joined local clubs such as Toonagh, Clooney and Clarecastle and these clubs have been great, along with Tuamgraney and Newmarket, for facilitating my own training since moving to Clare, I’m very appreciative of their support.

“We had pupils representing the CBS in the Cumann na mBunscol competition this year for the first time in a long time, we hope to see these numbers continue to grow. It is a fun and challenging GAA sport for all ages and has been very well received by the boys and girls in the CBS.”

Casey, who has been utterly dominant on the American circuit for years, may be the most-travelled elite GAA player, regularly attending – and winning – tournaments around the world.

“I’m just back from a weekend trip to the Basque Country for a wallball tournament there which was an amazing experience. Everything from the welcome we got from the locals to the facilities to the standard of competition was top class.

“For me, one of the best things about handball is the international element. There are great opportunities to travel, compete and make friends all over the world. I have also been on trips to Mexico and the US this year too,” she explained.

The earlybird entry for the World Wallball Championships closes today (Sunday, May 19th) – for more details and to enter, click here.