Category Archives: Olympic Handball

Top three remain unbeaten in Irish Olympic Handball league

Round 4 of the Irish Olympic Handball senior men’s league took place last weekend, with all teams in action, except UCD, who take an early Christmas break with exams on the way.

Sligo IT, a new team to the league this year after competing in division 2 last season.

They are a but if an unknown quantity but their experienced coach Robert Hamm at the helm would be expected to steer them in the right direction.

Lughnasa came to town as favourites and knew that top place in the league was achievable if they could rack up a healthy goal difference against the students.

And rack up a score was exactly what they did.

The game started at a frantic pace, Lughnasa dominated the opening exchanges with eight goals to Sligo’s one.

Sligo rallied after a time out and responded and kept the scores within reach for a time.

However, Lughnasa were the stronger team and continued their onslaught towards the end of the half, leading 24:7 at the break.

After the first half, the victory was out of reach for Sligo, but they continued to fight in every attack and defence.

During the second half Lughnasa’s lead was extended, with the more experienced squad not letting up, managing another 21 goals in the second period.

The match ended Lughnasa 45:17 Sligo IT. This put the Dublin based team on top of the league at this early stage, a position not seen by Lughnasa for about five years.

DCU took on Astra for the second time this season, and another close encounter was expected between two teams who are expected to be scrapping over a semi-final spot at the send of the season.

The game started slowly with both teams trading blows, and going goal for goal, with the scores level for the opening quarter.

Astra slowly developed a lead towards the end of the first half. Astra’s defence was the difference here as DCU found it difficult to create scoring opportunities, and was reflected in the scores as Astra stole into a 14:9 half time lead.

DCU upped the tempo in the second half but Astra’s lead was not threatened, some fine saves from young keeper, Matheus Pelk, helped Astra keep on top of the game.

Despite their efforts, DCU did not mount a serious comeback. Astra extended their lead marginally through the half and strolled to a comfortable win. The final score read Astra 29:21 DCU.

This is the third loss for DCU from four, if things continue in this vein, the college may not make the playoffs, long removed from their appearance in last season’s final.

The wheels quite literally came off the Dublin International bus on Sunday as they travelled to Cork to face UCC.
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DI were delayed by an hour on their arrival to Cork due to an incident with their bus. Luckily the team arrived in enough time and the game went ahead.

DI have remained unbeaten for a number of years. In fact, the last team to take a point off of the champions was a young, now non-existent, North Kildare team, in a draw in 2008.

But last year it was UCC who came closest to upsetting that streak when they were edged out by the league champions in the cup final.

UCC went into the game believing that they could win. It was a frantic game but DI were the early leaders.

They built up a strong lead and were up by six goals in the first half, however UCC finished strongly and at half time they lay just four goal behind DI,  it was not a good start for the students, but certainly not game over at 8:12.

In the second half, UCC were blown out of the water. DI closed up shop in defence, used their power and strength in attack and countered quickly clocking up easy goals.

DI swiftly stamped out the possibility of a UCC upset. Once again however, UCC showed that DI are not infallible as they routed DI in the final minutes to pull the deficit back to eight.

The game ended 20:28 in a rather low scoring contest, with many chances wasted by both teams.

With that victory, DI move into third, one win behind the leaders Lughnasa and second place Astra, with a game in hand.

Meanwhile, UCC will be disappointed with their form so far, expecting a lot more, though the opening three games have proven how tough the league can be.

The Cork team will not be too downhearted however, knowing that these are early days and the fight for a top four spot is very much alive.

The match between Astra and DI on 9th December should start to sort the men from the boys in the league.

On the same date in cork, UCC host Sligo IT in a game that will be hotly contested, both teams will be looking for wins to bring them off the lower end of the table.

– IOHA

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Defending champions Dublin International open their league campaign

Last weekend saw the first packed schedule in the Irish Olympic Handball Association’s Senior Men’s league with 3 matches taking place over Saturday and Sunday.

Colaiste Pobail Phibblestown on Saturday was the venue for the seasons 1st double-header, with a repeat of last year’s final between Dublin International and DCU.

It was DCU’s second game of the season having thrown away a massive half-time lead away to Astra the previous weekend.

For Dublin International, it was their first game in the league and they were looking to avoid an early upset in the search for yet another national title.

The difference between the two teams in strength and experience was clear early on.

From the beginning, DI exerted their dominance. DCU found it difficult to deal with one of DI’s new players, Francois Preraux, with 8 goals in the first half, he was their dominant player.

DCU were not threatening enough in attack, giving away easy ball, which was punished by DI’s fast breaking.

DI lead DCU 22:7 at half time, the result was all but certain. The second half saw a better DCU performance, restricting the DI scoring somewhat. However, the result was never in doubt, and Dublin International ran out 37:15 winners.

Lughnasa HC’s Oisin O’Brannagain shoots during their win over UCC

Lughnasa HC faced first division debutantes UCC in the second game of the double-header. The last team to have beaten Dublin International to a league title, Lughnasa, have faltered somewhat in the last two seasons.

In contrast, last year UCC surprised everyone when they displayed flair and confidence to beat off most teams in the cup, narrowly losing to DI in the final by one goal arguably giving the champions the best game of the season. Based on UCC’s cup performance and considering Lughnasa finished in the bottom half of the senior league in 2011/12, UCC were seen as favourites.

Lughnasa, with some Irish internationals on their squad, got off to the perfect start to the season with a comprehensive win over UCD a few weeks previous.

Lughnasa won the early exchanges, and slowly a narrow lead grew. UCCs main attacking threats were nullified with smart defending from the Tallaght based team. At half time the scores stood at 21:13 to Lughnasa.

In the second half UCC began to eat away at Lughnasa’s lead and were on track to cause an upset.

With 15 minutes to go, Lughnasa lead by just three, and UCC had the momentum.

UCC had taken advantage of multiple 2 minute suspensions which weakened Lughnasa’s defence, particularly with the sending-off of Irish international Mark Ferguson.

Despite creating chances, the inexperienced UCC were unable to convert in front of goal and Lughnasa’s narrow lead bounced between 3 and 4 goals as the teams traded goals. UCC may have felt they had a chance at victory or even a draw when three further suspensions reduced Lughnasa’s presence on the court.

But Lughnasa held strong and won out 34:30, leaving them top of the league at this very early stage of the season. Sundays match was the first all student clash of the season with UCC making the most of their trip to Dublin with a second match in two days, this time against UCD in Belfield.

UCD have been in a period of rebuilding since their appearance in the league final two seasons ago, after which, three former captains and the coach left the club.

The new look UCD team is strong in numbers, but lack in experience, hampered even further with a shoulder injury to captain and Irish international Alex Kulesh.

UCC flew off the mark in this game, making sure not to make the same mistakes as the previous day.

The students from Cork were solid in defence throughout their 32:17 win against UCD

UCC raced into an 18-6 lead in the first half, with UCD lacking any real threat and formation, as many of the players are in their first season.

The gap did not widen much further as both teams used their entire benches with the result decided.

Adrian Macjesky was the top scorer for UCC with 12 goals, while Green Giant Breandán Ó Riain impressed for UCD, top scoring for them.

The final score was 32:17 to UCC. The Cork side headed home with a split weekend, and can be reasonably happy going into more difficult challenges against DI and Astra.

For UCD, some promising points in the match but still more work to be done for the young team.

This weekend sees another university derby, as UCD make the short trip to the northside to face DCU, while Astra will head west to take on Sligo IT.

Harsh lesson for Ireland Handball in Estonia

The Irish men’s handball team took another jump into the deep end of international handball last on 31 October as they travelled to Estonia for the first EHF EURO 2016 qualifier.

The Irish team, competing for just the second time at this level, were boosted by three players returning to the squad, though three long term injuries meant that the team has not played with a full strength squad in over a year.

Estonia went into the game as clear favourites and went about their business in clinical fashion, racing ahead with 8 goals before Ireland could manage one for themselves.

Ireland played some fluid handball but lacked a cutting edge, leaving the back court to shoot too often, and too poorly. Estonia were consistent throughout and ended the first half with a 20:4 lead.

The second half was much the same, with the Estonians punishing Ireland with precise fast breaks, brought about by errors in the Irish attack.

Ireland did find their range more frequently in the second half, scoring nine times, this however, was again nothing in comparison to Estonia’s 24.

The final score was 44:13 and it was a brutal lesson learnt for the young and inexperienced Irish team. Steffan Craig Meyer was the top scorer for Ireland with four goals.

The next EHF EURO 2016 qualifier for Ireland will be a home tie against Belgium in April, which will be followed shortly after by another home game against Estonia, giving plenty of time and room for improvement which will surely come with more exposure to this level.

Ireland squad for the EHF EURO 2016 qualifier against Estonia

Goalkeepers: Pontus Bonaguidi (Djurgarden Handball, SWE), Robert Vaughan (Astra HC)
Left wing: Julian Eberle (UCD), Donal O’Doherty (Astra HC)
Left back: Hichem Sefroun (Dublin International HC), Kari Andresson (FC Barcelona Intersport ‘B’, ESP)
Centre back: Oisín Ó’Brannigáin (Lughnasa HC), Paddy McAuley (Lughnasa HC)
Right back: Alan O’Brien (Lughnasa HC), Steffan Meyer (HC Erlangen, GER)
Right wing: Breandán Ó’Riain (UCD), Chris Higgins (Thames HC, ENG)
Line players: Kevin Murphy (HaSpo Bayreuth, GER), Mark Fergusson (Lughnasa HC)

Handball Season Opener in Loughlinstown

The curtain raiser to the Irish Olympic Handball season took place at Loughlinstown, Co.Dublin on Sunday, as Astra Handball Club hosted UCD in the annual ‘Corn Chrothrom Féinne’ a preseason trophy contested between the two clubs.

Astra went into the game as favorites, retaining the majority of the squad which finished 3rd in the National League last season, as well as the addition of three German players. UCD had a full squad going into the game, with a large influx of new players and Erasmus students into the squad, adding to returning students.

UCD got off to a strong start, with Irish internationals Julian Eberle and Alex Kulesh settling the nerves of the new squad with some early goals, racing to a 7-3 lead. However, as both teams started to shuffle their bench, the more experienced Astra players took a hold, outscoring UCD by 7, to take a 13-10 lead at half time, thanks to the solid keeping of Robert Vaughan.

Astra in attack against UCD in the Corn Chrothrom Féinne

The second half began with both teams trading goals with UCD pushing to get back level. The students had their chances, but began to waste attacks, while Astra top-scorer Gianni Attanasio found his range, as did his teammates, every court player on the Astra squad scored at least once.

Astra ran out winners, 25-17 in the end, Attanasio for Astra and Eberle for UCD were top-scorers, both players with 8 goals.
It was a useful exercise for both teams as they get to know their squad for the season, and in particular for UCD, who with a big squad and a lot of potential, could find themselves in the top end of the league alongside Astra, if the right work is done throughout the year.

Street Handball takes a hold on Temple Bar

Friday afternoon saw a fundraiser from the Irish Olympic Handball Association in the form of a Street Handball event, the Companies Cup.

Sixteen teams entered the competition, teams consisted of companies, colleges, and Irish National team players as four hours of short matches were played on three courts at Meeting House Square.

Ladies from the Irish Hockey team visited the event and played some Street Handball with members of the Irish Men’s team

Athletes from other sports took part in the competition alongside the IOHA’s High Performance management team of Eddie O’Sullivan, Steve McIvor and Dave Matthews. The Irish Women’s Hockey team paid a visit on the eve of their Champions Challenge tournament in UCD to check the event out and give the sport a go.

The event was a success in the eyes of the IOHA’s General Manager Lúcás Ó Ceallacháin and was the first of a number of events to raise awareness and funds for the Irish National teams this year as they compete in European Championship qualifiers.

Ireland Handball Green Giants are Go, as are the Women!

The Irish Olympic Handball Association (IOHA) today announced that the screening for talent transfer athletes will take place on Sunday, August 26th from 09.30 to 12.00. The screening will be held in Phibblestown, Dublin and will be the first step in integrating these players into the national squad.

There has been some high-profile athletes from Gaelic football expressing their interest in the program, as well as athletes from Hurling, Rugby, Basketball, Lacrosse and Football, and while some have been down at some sessions to get a feel for the sport or at the national squads fitness testing this evening in Santry, Sunday will be the first time that they will all be together and put through their paces.

Players will then be invited to train with the national team the following week and take part in a pre-season tournament alongside English league winners Salford, English Cup winners London GD, Irish league winners Dublin International, and Barcelona ‘B’ the team coached by Irish coach Toni Gerona and of young Irish international Kari Andresson, who has recently joined the club.

18 Year old Kari Andresson, formerly of Dublin International HC and Astra Handball club, is the latest player from Ireland to move abroad in search of high class Handball. Andresson’s move to Barcelona is by far the highest profile move by an Irish Handballer.

Among the many announcements in a busy news day from the IOHA, is the apparent relaunching of the Irish Women’s National team. There will be an open session for Women on the 26th, also in Phibblestown, at midday right after the Talent transfer session. The session is to provide information on playing for the coming season as well as additional info about an international tournament in Malta in November. The Women’s team was controvertially disbanded in 2009 and it appears that the tournament in November will be the first stepping stone into getting a national team up and running again.

Talent Transfer Scheme for Olympic Handball in Ireland

The Irish Olympic Handball Association has  today announced a talent transfer program encouraging athletes from other sports to see if they have the ability   cross over and compete for Ireland in an Olympic Sport.

The Irish Mens National team has recently made the  step up into major international competition, and while there is a small talented group in the squad, the numbers need to be increased and strength and speed need to be brought to another level in order to compete.

The scheme is not unlike what Great Britain attempted when given the right to host the 2012 Olympics. They launched the Sporting Giants campaign in 2006 in order to find athletes for Handball, Volleyball and Rowing, the campaign has been largely a success, with the real test coming over the next two weeks.

Two places in the Mens squad will be given to the best of the talent transfers for the upcoming Euro2016 first round qualifiers, and hopefully the scheme will keep these athletes who have tried out in the sport, with various clubs and give them a long term opportunity to get into the National team.

Chris O’Reilly, pictured here against England in November, is one of three Irish based players to have moved to clubs abroad in the last 12 months.

Meanwhile, the Irish Mens team have recently stepped up their preparations for the upcoming qualifier with Estonia. The squad which was heavily depleted for their last campaign in June, will be boosted with the return of UCD’s Alex Kulesh, Vienna based Brian Campion and Kari Andresson, who has just secured a move to FC Barcelon and will begin with their B Squad in August. On the other hand, Ireland’s top scorer from the EHF Challenge Trophy, will be missing out due to a recent ACL reconstruction operation. The talent transfer athletes will undergo an intensive program with top class coaches while integrating themselves into the Irish squad before the team is announced.

Details for interested athletes at here at http://www.olympichandball.org/2012/07/26/ioha-launches-talent-transfer-program/