Ireland Men 18 squad complete successful training camp in Scotland

The Ireland Men’s U-18 squad completed a successful training camp at the weekend that will stand to them in the preparations for the European Handball Federation M18 Championship in 2020.

The squad was hosted by our old friends from the Scottish Handball Association and the highlight of the weekend was on Saturday afternoon with an U-18 International match between Scotland and Ireland. On this occasion the hosts ran out victorious on a score-line of 25-22.

Sunday saw the squad squeeze in 3 matches against opposition from the Scottish development league and under the instruction of Coach Tomas Martinonis the team rounded off the weekend with a win.

Ireland U18 12-13 Tryst 77 Handball
Ireland U18 6-19 Livingston
Ireland U18 9-7 East Kilbride 82 Handball

Team Coach, Tomas Martinonis gave his thoughts:

“It was a great weekend and good experience for the players. For the group of players getting together for the first time it was productive weekend. It’s only the start of the cycle and a lot of positives to look forward to. It’s hard working group of players and they showed it over the weekend. Big thanks goes to Andy and Scottish handball federation for making weekend as smooth as possible.” 

Team Manager, Andrew Newby gave his assessment of the trip.

“After our successful trip to Warrington in November 2017, we had focussed on doing something similar in Scotland to allow our new U18 squad (former U16) to get re-acquainted and push forward to another major tournament in 2020. Most of this squad is relatively experienced – we have Irish players from Germany, Spain and Finland complementing lads who play in Ireland – but they have only had sporadic opportunities to play together as a team. Scotland is a country of roughly similar size to Ireland, and with the same sort of competition from other sports for the attention of youngsters, so the trip over to Edinburgh was of great value: not only did the playing squad get to test itself against a well-organised, skilful and experienced national team, we were also able to learn more about how handball is organised in Scotland and take advice back with us for developing our junior squads.

While the main focus of the weekend was the match against Scotland – they always had the upper-hand but we fought hard and got a creditable result – it was also an opportunity for squad development. The facilities at the Oriam Centre, adjacent to Heriot Watt University in the west of Edinburgh, really are second-to-none. In addition to ball practice sessions the lads enjoyed hydrotherapy recovery sessions and also got to visit the historic heart of Edinburgh. On the final day, we were taken out to Ravenscraig to compete against some club teams, and we finished with a win which was a great reward for the hard work that the players and coach had put in over the three days.

Our hosts could not have been more helpful or hospitable, and we are extremely grateful to all of our friends in the Scottish Handball Association for facilitating this extremely important trip for our U18 Men. In particular, Fiona Kennedy, Allan Stokes and Stephen Neilson gave up plenty of their own spare time to organise different parts of the tour, and to spend time with us while we were in Edinburgh. We certainly hope to see the Scotland team again soon, and they are great yardstick for our own development.”