Handball’s first ever standalone John West Féile na nGael weekend proved a resounding success.
The competition was hosted by Carlow and Wexford clubs, catering for U14 boys and girls teams from across the country.
The event saw a significant spike in attendance with 64 teams competing compared to 48 in the previous year.
Galmoy of Kilkenny ran out winners of the Division 1 40x20 Boys event, defeating last year’s winners Tuamgraney of Clare.
Kilkishen of Clare won the 40x20 Girls Division 1 event, beating Lahorna 41-15.
Kilfane of Kilkenny took Division 1 in the 60 x30 Boys, beating Ballina of Tipperary.
Billy Drennan of Galmoy had to settle for second place for a second successive year in the Division 1 40x20 Boys Singles, Gearoid Sheedy of Tuamgraney taking the title..
In the Division One 40x20 Girls Singles Final Chloe Philpott of Kilkeshen defeated Amy Brennan of Clogh, and Kyle Jordan of Kilfane beat Mark Doyle of Taghmon in the Division 1 60x30 Boys Singles Final.
A One Wall competition was also included for the first time, with Mayobridge from Down beating Laochra Laimhe of Limerick in the Division One Final.
Speaking about holding the handball over a dedicated weekend, Austin McKenna of GAA Handball HQ said: “It’s a lot less hassle trying to organise. It also gives our stronger players a chance to come forward without having to think about the football, camogie and hurling aspect.”
McKenna added: “We are very very happy with the numbers. We had to add an extra two divisions with four teams in each in the 60X30, and that hasn’t been the case since 2009.”
The rise in handball's popularity has been attributed to the Handball World Championship that was held in Dublin in 2012.
"It is going from strength to strength, and Dublin in 2012 gave people enormous impetus to start playing handball. Feile is the one event that can lift younger players to compete on a national level,” McKenna said.
"If the rise in popularity continues its going to be difficult to cope with the numbers”
Féile na nGael kicks off a summer full of handball action as the 60x30 Nationals are scheduled for July with the venue yet to be decided. The All-Irelands are set for August.
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