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David Walsh is one of the brightest stars in the sport with the physical and mental tools to reach the pinnacle of the Race 4 Eight tour. Walsh won the 19-and-under USHA 4-Wall junior national championship in December of 2018, clinched the “A’ Singles at the 2019 USHA Four Wall Nationals and earned his first R48 ranking point at the 2020 New Orleans R48LTE. Armed with excellent power and command of both the Irish whip and the sidearm stroke, this precocious 21-year-old travels the globe in pursuit of playing the world’s best playing with the aim of improving at each event.
Enjoy part one of Walsh’s World, exclusively on Patreon.
Getting Started in Handball
I started playing handball the week after my brother Conor started. He was seven and I was eight. We would go training every week with our friends and play a game we called “knockout”. It’s basically the winner of the rally continues to serve and the loser goes to the back of the line waiting for their turn to get in again! Mallow being such a strong club in Ireland definitely has aided me in becoming the player I am today. I grew up watching Killian Carroll, Tadgh Carroll, Ryan Harkin, Pa Herlihy and more. And nowadays I’ve loads of options for training games – my brother Conor, Cian O Driscoll, Tadhg O Neill, Tadgh Carroll and Ballydesmonds Tony Healy and Brendan Fleming train in Mallow quite often also!
Favorite handball memories
Some of my favourite memories as a youngster in handball would be winning All Ireland titles. I played all doubles throughout my juvenile years winning U15, U16 and Minor Doubles x2. The U19 US Junior Nationals title in Portland was my first big singles win.
Apart from competition, the social aspect of handball in Ireland is great! I have always loved watching big finals in packed galleries with friends I made from all around the country! More recently, I’ve gotten amazing opportunities to travel the US going to some Pro Stops playing the likes of David Fink, Luis Cordova, and Leo Canales which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed!
Maybe Fergal Coughlan, we have played quite a number of times in the last few years. I got the better of him in the 19 & U nationals, Irish Collegiates and the U21 Munster Championship in recent years, this year though he got the better off me in the Intermediate Munster Championship. My age group growing up was tough – myself, Fergal, Shane Dunne, Sean Kerr, Tadgh O Neill, Daniel Kavanagh, Diarmuid Mulkerrins, Tiarnan Agnew & more – some great battles!
David Walsh is one of the brightest stars in the sport with the physical and mental tools to reach the top tier of the Race 4 Eight. Walsh won the 19-and-under USHA 4-Wall junior national championship in December of 2018, clinched the “A’ Singles at the 2019 USHA Four Wall Nationals and earned his first R48 ranking point at the 2020 New Orleans R48LTE.Armed with excellent power and command of both the Irish whip and the sidearm stroke, this precocious 21-year-old travels the globe in pursuit of playing the world’s best playing with the aim of improving at each event.
Toughest Player I’ve Ever Played
Robbie McCarthy. He is relentless. I trained with Robbie while he was based in Cork with the navy. We would play three 21’s and he would say “will we play two more?” His drive and determination in training is unlike anything I’ve seen and his hands are something else.
Handball Hero and Why
My handball hero would be Killian Carroll. I remember back to when I used to be on the way to school and I would see Killian walking the other way going home after training, how early he got up in the morning to train was inspiring. I used to walk into the alley in Mallow and he would constantly be doing drills by himself. That self-discipline has got him to where he is today and he thoroughly deserves it.
What moment/person inspired you to become a pro
I suppose one moment where it clicked with me that I was able to compete with the pros was in my first stop, which was played alongside the Junior Nationals in Portland, I ran into Lucho in the 2nd round and I remember losing the first game 15-10, and I was tied at 10-10. People started to gather around the court wondering who I was. I would have been 19 at the time thinking to myself, with a bit more training, consistency and getting used to playing these pros I’m more than capable of beating the best.
I have had a nice few memorable tiebreak wins in the past. In the US Nationals Men’s A Final in the summer of 2019 I trailed Ricardo Palma 9-0 and ended up winning 11-9. Again in the US Collegiates Doubles Final, Adam Walsh and I trailed vs UL Fergal Coughlan and Tadhg O Neill 9-3 and ended up winning 11-10. Often I seem to play my best handball when the pressure is on.
I’ve played in quite a few successful doubles pairings in the past. My main strategy in doubles regardless of who I’m playing with is the dominate the short lines. If you dominate the short lines you’re dictating play and more than likely going to win the match.
My mother always used to say and still does: enter competitions. For every competition you enter you come home a better player. And I believe it’s true! Handball is worth all the travelling involved and you can easily get obsessed with the sport. I’ve been to America eight times now and Canada once, and I’ve just turned 21 – I’ve been lucky to get all the opportunities! Within two years I’ve picked up four US National titles, a world silver medal and have earned my pro status so just my advice to young players would be stick with it, listen to your coaches and believe in yourself. I was never talked about as one of the “top players” when I was growing up, only recently I’ve started to reap the rewards. If you’re not winning now don’t worry about it. I believe you just have to work harder than rest, be really disciplined and that big win is only around the corner!
WPH Senior Writer
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