Gaelic Handball

Handball is a traditional sport played in Ireland.  It is one of the four Gaelic games organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

In Ireland, the earliest written record of a handball game is found in the town statutes of Galway in 1527, which forbade the playing of ball games  against the walls of the town.   The first drawing of an Irish form of handball does not appear till 1785. On the west coast of Ireland, Galway had many trading links with Spain, especially the Basque regions, where the similar game of pelota is played.

Handball was included in the G.A.A. Charter of 1884. In 1924  the Irish Handball Council  was established to promote, develop and organise the sport. In 1974 Comhairle Liathroid Laimhe na mBan was founded to run womens competitions. In 1998 these were  merged to a single Irish Handball Council. In 2009 it became the  GAA Irish Handball Council. In the same year Irish Handball was rebranded as GAA Handball.

Handball is played in a court, or   alley. Originally, an alley measuring 60 feet by 30 feet was used with a front wall of 30 feet, off which the ball must be struck. In 1969 a smaller alley was also introduced, measuring 40 feet by 20 feet with a front wall 20 ft high.  This smaller size is now the standard in the international version of the game.

Players hit a ball with a hand or fist against a wall in such a way as to make a shot the opposition cannot return. It can be played with two players (singles) or four players (doubles).

The objective of handball is to score a set total of points before your opponent does. Points are only scored by the person serving the ball. The serving player has two opportunities to hit the ball, from the   service area   (between the two parallel lines), off the   front wall   and across the   short line   (which is located exactly halfway down the court from the front wall). If they fail their opponent then becomes the server.