Ireland gear up for the IHF/EHF Challenge Trophy

With the upcoming IHF/EHF Challenge Trophy being held in Limerick this November the Irish national team’s preparation is well underway.

The squad has undergone an intense strength and conditioning program under the experienced and watchful eye of dual Olympian David Matthews. David is the current 800m national record holder and his expertise is a key element in the Irish team preparations.

Regular handball sessions have been ongoing over the summer with National Team Coach Tomás Ó’Brannagáin putting the players through their paces ahead of a hectic playing schedule.

In the coming weeks Ireland will be playing in several key warm up games throughout Europe. These team performances will lead to the selection of the final team participating in the IHF/EHF Challenge Trophy in Limerick. Ireland will take on England, the Faroe Islands and Georgia at the UL Arena from the 4th to the 6th of November.

In the first warm up match the Irish will host Deva Handball Club in Columba’s College Hall on Saturday the 3rd of September at 17.30. Based in Chester in England, Deva HC club was founded in 2003 and currently compete in the National League North, the top League in Northern England.

The Irish Team will then travel to Glasgow from Friday 16th to Sunday the 18th September where they will play Scotland. Scotland are preparing for the 2011 European Challenge Trophy where they will play in Malta against the Malta, Moldova and Azerbaijan.

In October the Irish team will travel to Barcelona where they will play Andorra .This will be the first ever meeting of these two nations and is a great opportunity to welcome the EHF’s newest member. While in Barcelona, Ireland will also face the Barcelona U18 team in a friendly fixture.

The five matches provide an ideal opportunity for the coaching staff to test the progress of the players and the team in a competitive match environment after the hard work sustained in training in the last months.

Speaking ahead of the games, National Team Head Coach Carsten Klavehn shared his thoughts. “These matches are really important for us as the team has not played since March. With some players based overseas we don’t have many chances to play together so we need to take full advantage of these opportunities to grow as a team. The timing of the games is ideal; two months and one month before the IHF/EHF Challenge Trophy starts. This gives the coaches a chance to test the squad and select the best team possible for the tournament”.

Saturday 3rd of September v DEVA (H)

Saturday 17th of September v Scotland (A)

Sunday 18th of September v Scotland (A)

Thursday 6th of October v Barcelona U18 (A)

Friday 7th of October v Andorra (A)

All at the IOHA wish the squad the best of luck!