World number one, Cavan’s Paul Brady, is already gearing up for the World Handball Championships, now scheduled for Dublin in October 2012.
This event promises to be the biggest handball showpiece on the planet to date with GAA handball securing a very enticing venue and a setting, at the Citywest International Convention Arena, where over 2000 competitors are anticipated to gather from across 33 nations.
Breffni man Brady has won every major honour in the game, both at home and abroad, and continues to have the necessary drive and hunger to secure another world title in the elite bracket.
Next October, the 32 year old will be chasing an unprecedented fourth consecutive World Senior title triumph. That statistic is all the more impressive when you consider these championships are played every three years and, if successful, Brady will have held on to the top spot for nearly a decade. He won his first title back in Dublin in 2003 when he denied Cork’s Tony Healy in a nail biting tie-break decider in Croke Park, before going on to retain the title in Edmonton, Canada in 2006 and again in Portland, Oregon in 2009.
Last week, the role model of the 40×20 code took time off the court to help promote this exciting venture when he visited schools in Derry and Tyrone to display some of his amazing skills and share some valuable knowledge to budding young handball prospects. This National One Wall Schools initiative has already seen over 112 new schools facilities launched in the past 14 months as GAA Handball’s growth continues to accelerate.
“I have really enjoyed going around the schools. This is a brilliant new initiative to promote the Worlds and handball in general. One-wall is now proven as the best way to expand the sport and introduce people to handball because it is easy and inexpensive to construct the courts and very easy for anyone to be competent from the outset. The growth is incredible in handball the past couple of years and this sort of initiative will mean it gets even bigger in the years ahead too” said the eight time senior Irish champion.
Brady, who has had to deal with a severe hand injury since the final stages of the 40×20 series back in April will be aiming to collect a staggering eighth All-Ireland senior title in a row next April. Consequently, he had to abandon his bid to scoop seven straight wins at the USA Nationals last June and his preparations have been curtailed ever since. Fortunately for traditional handball fans, that resulted in the dual Gaelic football and handball star entering the M Donnelly GAA Handball softball doubles championships, alongside Kingscourt’s Michael Finnegan in the summer. The Cavan duo, who are current 40×20 champions, came very close in the 60×30 court and bowed out in the third game against Mayo in the semi-finals. “I enjoyed playing in the big court as it was something different for me. I viewed it as part of my rehabilitation for my injury as the ball was softer on my hand but it still wasn’t quite right at that stage unfortunately.”
Brady’s next venture is the US Open in California next month but the best player in the world is not ready to compete for the singles division just yet.
“The US Open is still part of my recovery, hence the reason I’m only going to play in the doubles. I scratched the rest of this year back in May so I’ve expected all this. It’s all about giving the injury as much time as possible to get fully healed and more importantly to be ready for next year. I also wanted to take these few months to continue to compete at a less intense level and to recharge the batteries and be fresh and ready for next year.”
No Irish player has ever come close to Brady’s achievements thus far in the small court. He remains in superb athletic shape and continues to have a sole focus for winning. All his emphasis has been channelled to regaining the most sought after piece of silverware in the game next year.
Looking ahead to the World Championships on home soil, Brady said, “The atmosphere should be amazing with all the players and spectators within the vicinity of the Citywest and Dublin. The show courts with glass sidewall viewing will make for much more exciting and spectacular handball and it will be easier to record and televise with all the different camera angles. I know the promotion will be superb and the plans sound great. Im really looking forward to it.”
The World Championship Plans for October 2012 will be launched by GAA Handball Ireland later this month.