Sean Kerr may be seeking to complete something of a clean sweep of Irish Wallball Nationals titles this weekend in Breaffy House but it wouldn’t be strictly accurate to describe the Breacach right-hander as a man on a mission.
Kerr turned some heads with an excellent performance in winning the prestigious Mount Talbot tournament, the traditional Nationals warm-up event, a few weeks back but while he has been installed as number two seed in the Open Singles this weekend, the laid-back Tyrone man is taking it all in his stride.
“To be honest I haven’t been doing much training specifically for wallball. I have been keeping my fitness up and playing one wall once a week since Mount Talbot,” Kerr told GAAHandball.ie.
“I don’t think you have to play much wallball, as long as you’re playing handball. If I play too much of it I tend to think about it too much and my shots don’t come off.”
Kerr’s plan is to hopefully navigate the early rounds, find a rhythm and, he says, “see what happens from there”. While he has an excellent tracked record in the single-wall code, his focus is on four-wall handball.
Kerr takes a relaxed approach to wallball.
“Wallball is different, it’s probably more enjoyable. You go in and have a bit of fun, relax a little and take the pressure off. Four-wall would be the main game but one wall lets you take a couple of months over the summer to have a break from that and have some craic, kind of enjoy it a bit more.
“There’s no pressure on you, whatever happens, happens.”
The Wallball Nationals has become a jewel in the crown of the GAA Handball season. Entry numbers are consistently high and innovations such as live streaming and international participation have helped ensure the event remains high on handball bucket lists.
For Kerr, the atmosphere around the weekend is what makes it unmissable.
“It’s a very big family event, parents and kids all playing. Since I was a child, playing in the 11&U grade, I’ve been going to Breaffy every year bar one year  when it was held in CityWest.
“I think it’s a very good weekend, it gets big numbers and you have the hotel and handball courts all joined under one roof. There’s a great atmosphere and it’s very enjoyable if you get to play on the centre court and there’s a packed gallery there.”
Having won the 11&U, 13&U, 15&U twice, 17&U and 19&U, Kerr opted to step up to the Open last year but was beaten in the first round by Limerick’s Paudi Quish (“Paudi out-played me on the day”).
This year, buoyed by what for him was an unexpected win in Mount Talbot, Kerr is back for another crack at the big one.
“I’d like to win it, I wouldn’t say it’s my number one goal in the sport. It would be nice to win it though, yeah. It would be a big thing for confidence.
“In Mount Talbot, I didn’t expect to get past Ben Devlin, he plays a lot of one wall whereas I had been concentrating on four-wall, I had been out in Salt Lake City playing four-wall the week before. I hadn’t played any wallball before I went down.
“I had Niall Joyce in the first game and it went alright, I got used to it again as it went on. I had a good win against Ben and then in the final, Martin [Mulkerrins] was a bit rusty. He had one less game than me and if he had played an extra game, he would have been sharper and it would have been a different story.”
As for this week, the Tyrone man reckons there are several potential winners in the draw.
“Darren Doherty from Monaghan will be a big danger, he’s a very good wallball player. He has been keeping quiet in the build-up. Ben Devlin as well and if Martin makes the final of course he would be hard to beat because he will have the games under his belt.
“But I’m looking forward to giving it a lash.”