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|Formation||1 November 1884|
|Purpose||Management and promotion of Gaelic handball|
|Headquarters||Croke Park, Dublin|
|The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA)|
GAA Handball Ireland (Irish: Liathróid Láimhe C.L.G. na hÉireann) is the governing body for the sport of Gaelic handball in all of its codes 40x20, 60x30 Softball & Hardball and One-wall. Handball is one of the four Gaelic games organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association. Its headquarters is located in Croke Park, Dublin. There are approximately 200 handball clubs in Ireland.
As in the parent organisation, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), a president is elected every three years. As of 2019, the president is Joe Masterson from Offaly, who took up his role at the 2017 annual congress.
The national committee of GAA Handball is Ard Comhairle (the central council) on which the president sits as chairman.
History of Irish handball
Since its foundation in 1884, the charter of the Gaelic Athletic Association included handball as one of the sports to be promoted by the association. In 1924, the "Irish Handball Council" (rebanded as GAA Handball in 2009) was established to promote and develop the game.
From the 1940s to the 1970s, handball was popular in the Republic of Ireland. It was cheap, fun and easy to play, but as years went by, handball lost its popularity to other GAA sports such as football and hurling and of course to "foreign" sports such as soccer and rugby. In recent times[when?] however there has been a surge in popularity of the sport, with the re-branding of the sport as GAA Handball and the ongoing promotion of the sport and especially One Wall handball by the organisation. One-wall courts have been built in many schools across Ireland following this new found popularity. In 2012 Ireland hosted the World Handball Championships in the Citywest International Events Arena in Dublin, where a multi-court complex was erected to host the greatest International Handball event in history, with over 30 countries and 2,000+ competitors in attendance. Due to the increasing popularity of One Wall handball it is hoped[by whom?] it will become an Olympic sport, and during the 2012 World Handball Championships a new unified International Federation for the sport worldwide was established and it is called the World Wall Ball Association (WWBA).
In late 2010, GAA Handball announced that it was to launch a new TV show on TG4 featuring highlights of the biggest competitions that were held over the last couple of months. In mid to late December of that year, TG4 premiered the first ever edition of the GAA Handball show and it was followed by a six-part series that was broadcast in January, 2011. It was a huge success and following the broadcast of the six episodes, through a new association with TG4 as GAA Handball Ireland's media partner, this has been doubled with more episodes now to come. The new series commenced on Monday 2 January 2012 with the opening 2 of the 8 episodes, and again every Monday night, on TG4 in January 2012. Further television coverage was shown on RTÉ, TG4, TV3 (Ireland) and Sky Sports for the 2012 All Ireland 40x20 Open Championships and for the 2012 World Championships. GAA Handball Ireland also puts coverage of the sport on to the video-sharing website Vimeo
National and international competitions
There are many handball competitions that are run in Ireland. In 40x20, the main competitions are County, Province, and All-Ireland Championships plus the 40x20 Irish Nationals. In 60x30 Softball and Hardball, the main competitions are County, Province, and All-Ireland Championships. In 2011 GAA Handball Ireland launched the 60x30 Nationals and this competition was held in July. In One-Wall handball, the main competition in Ireland is the Irish One-Wall Nationals, and this has been held in Breaffy House Sports Arena, Castlebar, since 2009. There are also many competitions during the year held by various handball clubs around the country.
As with the Irish competitions, there are many international one-wall and 40x20 competitions, the main one being the World Handball Championships which are run every 3 years. In 2012, the 'Worlds' was held in Ireland, in the Citywest International Events Arena in Dublin. The next worlds was held in 2015 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The two codes of handball played in the World Handball Championships are 40x20 small court and One-Wall. Ireland currently have the World 40x20 Senior Men's Singles (Paul Brady) and Doubles Runners-up (Paul Brady, Michael Finnegan) and Ladies Senior Singles (Aisling Reilly) and Doubles Champions (Fiona Shannon, Sibeal Gallagher).
National Handball Centre
Following a number of planning issues,[clarification needed] GAA Handball Ireland were granted final planning approval in late 2017 to build a National Handball Centre at Croke Park. As of February 2019, the centre was under development.
- "Club Finder Updates | GAA Handball". Gaahandball.ie. 13 November 2018. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
We have [..] 200 approx Handball Clubs nationwide
- "Nash eager to earn O'Neill's All Ireland Senior Handball title". Gaa.ie. 21 March 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
- "History | GAA Handball". Gaahandball.ie. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
- "Croke Park handball centre gets go-ahead after 28-year battle". Irish Times. 21 October 2017. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
- "National Handball Centre - Update". gaahandball.ie. 21 February 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2019.