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'This is huge for the sport' - Elite Euro event set for Croke Park

Excitement is beginning to grow ahead of a groundbreaking event which will take place in Croke Park on the weekend of December 10/11.

Dan Grant, the CEO of UK Wallball, explained in an Instagram post that the event will be an “Elite stop”, which means that rather than the usual large entry from various countries, there will be just one player representing each nation on the tour.

The tournament is due to take place in the new National Handball Centre at Croke Park and will be the first event there.

“On the 10th and 11th of December, we are really proud to say that we are hosting our first Elite stop,” Grant (above) revealed.

“That is the best player from every country that’s been competing is going to come and play. This is huge, not just for Euro One Wall but huge for the sport. You can watch it being streamed live and we are also going to launch tickets so if you’re in Ireland, you can come watch it as well. Please come and support that event, that is huge for the development of the sport.”

Tickets will be limited due to capacity but the matches will be streamed online.

It is understood that this event is receiving strong support from the GAA, who have taken a keen interest in developing wallball internationally. A delegation travelled to the recent Frontball World Championships in Biarritz in order to observe and meet with organisers there.

Handball now falls under the remit of the GAA’s Director of Coaching and Games, Shane Flanagan, who told the Irish Examiner back in June that he feels there is “massive potential internationally.”

“If we can get that right and build stronger relationships with the different international bodies out there, we’ve a huge opportunity to make the game really, really attractive to young children. The opportunities to play in America, across Europe and God knows where else, they don’t exist in Gaelic football or hurling unless you’re lucky enough to get on an All-Star tour or something like that.

“Early on in my introduction to handball, 16 or 17 third-level students headed over to the Collegiate games in Missouri. They funded their own trip which takes some commitment but I’m sure they had the time of their lives and I think that’s what we need to be selling.

“I think we should be trying to get handball on the Olympic charter as well, I think that would be a terrific prospect for the GAA as a whole and I think it’s a vision we should have.”

Flanagan has worked closely with GAA Handball President Dessie Keegan on this area. Keegan’s tenure as President will be up in February, when Monaghan's Conor McDonnell takes office. Keegan will move on to the presidency of the World Handball Council.

Meanwhile, Grant also confirmed that the Dutch Open will take place on January 28-29 and the UK Open is pencilled in for February 18-19.

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