International interest peaks as Collegiate Handball returns to Belfast

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Handball players in action. Photo Source: Mark McDonnell

Mark McDonnell, Contributor.

For the first time in over fifteen years, Belfast will be the host city for the annual All-Ireland Singles Intervarsities, with competitors travelling from the USA to compete for coveted collegiate All-Ireland handball titles.

It is expected that this year over 100 collegiate handball athletes will descend upon Belfast to compete in the major collegiate tournament, to be hosted in Queen’s University’s Physical Education Centre (PEC) and surrounding venues. It has been considered a major coup for the host partner, Queen’s University’s GAA Handball Club, having recently reformed in 2015 after a brief period of dormancy.

Players participating in the tournament will travel from across Ireland and the United States to compete. Some of the top seeds for the tournament include Cork Institute of Technology’s David Walsh, fresh from his U-19 US Nationals title win in December, as well as 2018 Irish Nationals U-19 champion Shane Dunne of the Institute of Technology, Tralee. Max Langmack of Missouri State University leads the charge of the US students, having announced himself as a future star when taking the Men’s Open Doubles title at the 2018 US Collegiate Championships.

In the Women’s Open division, hailing from Dublin City University, Fiona Tully will look to reclaim the title she won in her first year of collegiate action. Among the young challengers will be University College Cork’s Caitríona Millane, a first year student who enjoyed a distinguished career at juvenile level. Kyra Vidas, who will be representing Illinois’ Lake Forest College, is also eager to claim silverware at her first Irish intervarsity.

The national governing body for collegiate handball In Ireland, the Irish Collegiate Handball Association (ICHA), are excited for the return of the tournament to Belfast, with ICHA executive member John Walsh commenting, “We’re really looking forward to enjoying the hospitality that the Belfast clubs will offer. Belfast is a fantastic location for a handball tournament, with the prestigious Golden Gloves tournament held there every year, so we’re sure this will be a fantastic event for all to enjoy.”

Queen’s Handball Club chairman, Alan Armstrong also shares the ICHA’s excitement: “We are delighted for the tournament to be making a return to Belfast, particularly to Queen’s University. For many, it will be their first time visiting the city, so we are delighted to be welcoming them for the tournament and will ensure they have a memorable experience”.

The ICHA All-Ireland Singles Intervarsities will commence on Friday the 1st of February 2019 and conclude on Sunday the 3rd of February in Queen’s University’s PEC and surrounding Belfast venues, with finals to be streamed on the ICHA’s Facebook page.

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