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'Standard was truly stellar' - Belgian Open review

So, to stop number two on the Euro 1-Wall Tour and this time, the standard of play was truly stellar, writes Paul Fitzpatrick.

Ireland may be the home of handball and, for the longest time, the Irish handball community viewed itself, rightly or wrongly, as the leading light in Europe. That sense has been bolstered with the Irish domination of the 40x20 code at all levels over the last decade or so but the status quo has certainly changed on the European scene, as is borne out by the results from the first two Euro 1-Wall stops.

Continuing his winning run in the Men’s A Singles was England’s Luke Thomson. The left-hander was in superb form all weekend, winning his three group matches against Brent Viaene, Theo Chalimont and Roméo Van Neste before seeing off Christian Blackaby and Loic Clement to secure his passage to the final.

There he met great rival Conor McElduff. The Tyrone man topped his group with wins over Blackaby, Colin White and Sebastian Poitiez. ‘TGO’ defeated Viaene in the quarters and survived a stern test from the Brilliant Basque, Lur Ziarrusta, in the semi (25-22).

The final, played before a large crowd, was close most of the way. McElduff held an early lead, Thomson caught him at 15, the Irishman edged ahead 16-15 but Thomson finished strongest, finding his range on fly-kills to run out a 25-17 winner.

The clash of styles made this a superb spectacle between two world-class athletes. The latest instalment in what is fast becoming one of the most gripping rivalries in the game went the way of the Englishman but the pair are sure to meet again before long – and each clash takes on added significance given that the World Wallball Championships in Limerick is just 10 months away.

The Women’s Open Singles produced an all-Netherlands final between doubles partners Harmke Siegersma and Corrie Kroondijk, who had beaten Sarah Clement (25-16) and Aoife McCarthy (25-22) respectively in the penultimate round.

The pair also claimed the Open Doubles crown, emerging on top in all five of their group games before getting the better of Éloïse Clément and Sarah Clément in the final (25-11).

The Men’s A Doubles saw the Belgium-Holland combo of Jurrit Osinga and Loïc Clément take gold, seeing off Spanish Open winners Thomson and Dan Grant 25-11 in the final.

The B Singles, as always, was fiercely-contested, with seven countries (Belgium, Ireland, Wales, France, Italy, Holland and the Dominican Republic) represented in the last 16.

Top honours went to Leonard Taildeman (Belgium), who saw off countryman Siméon Van Stalle 25-17 in a high-quality decider.

Above: Red and black wallball gloves in stock here (select black/red from dropdown menu).

Mayo left-hander Ollie Cassidy came out on top in the Over 40 Singles, beating Michael Duwelz 21-18 in a close contest. It was a clean sweep for the Irish in this grade as Sean Nolan and Robbie McCarthy combined to win the doubles.

Clovis Fauvaux and Mimi Anderson won the Beginner categories, with Romain Potrick and Théo Chalimont the top dogs in the Men’s B Doubles.

The beauty of the Euro 1-Wall Tour is that each stop has its own unique identity. Where the Spanish Open was played in baking heat in the holiday destination of Valencia, the Belgian Open was hosted in a rural handball hot spot in front of passionate local crowds who got behind the large number of local players.

The standard of play was outstanding and the organisation and hospitality impeccable. The Welsh team were a very welcome addition, adding colour and no little skill; the resurgence of the Welsh Wallball Association, based in Nelson, has been one of the most positive stories to emerge in handball in recent years and based on their performances at the weekend, they will be in the winners enclosure before long.

Among the best games of the weekend was Lur Ziarrusta vs Sean Kerr, a spectacular group game which enthralled the spectators and just went the way of the Basque. The Men’s A Doubles, as always, was extremely close, with four wafer-thin 25-24 matches in the group stages.

Overall, the big takeaway from the weekend for this observer was that the perception of Ireland as the handball superpower is flawed; the standard in England and on the continent is at an all-time high.

However, there will be plenty of twists and turns on the road to the Worlds, with Ireland’s best, including six-time national champ McElduff, sure to bounce back with a vengeance.

Team Kill Shot were on site and were thrilled to see so many of the leading players, including all of the Men’s A semi-finalists and finalists and the Women’s Open finalists, rocking our gloves and shirts.

A limited supply of international shirts (Belgium, Holland, Valencia) are now available here.

Next up is the French Open in Toulouse in early December, followed by the European Juniors in January. Team Kill Shot hope to be in attendance in France – place your orders now!

Huge thanks to the organisers and the host club for another memorable event.


Kill Shot gloves are the official glove of the Euro 1-Wall Tour. Follow Euro 1-Wall on instagram here and Facebook here.

Follow Kill Shot on instagram here and Facebook here.

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