Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Handyman Brady putting everything into claiming new record

Only a matter of days after he landed the Cavan Championship, delivering a man-of-the-match performance into the bargain, Mullahoran's Paul Brady sets his sights now on smashing his own record for consecutive World Handball Championships at the CityWest Hotel, Dublin.

Last Sunday, Brady's Dreadnoughts club managed to edge their way past the final favourites, Kingscourt Stars, with a goal from his brother, Philip.

They now face Tyrone champions Errigal Ciaran on October 21st in the Ulster club Championship, but before all that, there's the little matter of creating history.

Nobody had ever won the World Handball Championship three times in succession, until Brady managed it. Now, with the Championships beginning this weekend, he is aiming to defend his title on home soil. His defence begins on Friday with a tie against Tyrone's Shane O'Neill.

A remarkably driven individual, Brady has admitted to pouring himself into his handball career, which in previous years he had as his main source of income, touring the semi-lucrative tournaments of America, where, paradoxically, handball is a popular sport among the white-collar classes in such establishments as the New York Athletics Club.

Meanwhile, the one-wall game is gaining in popularity, attracting a different social group, especially amongst the Hispanic community.

In recent years, Brady undertook a teaching qualification and he admits that working in that environment has given him a different perspective than that of a professional athlete.

“It’s the sacrifices,” he says of devoting himself to his sport. “It’s just not a normal life. Other people can integrate their lives into playing, but I find it’s all or nothing.

“I suppose it just depends on personalities.

“And while I have done a decent job over the past couple of years of incorporating other areas of life — teaching and things like that — unless I can be fully focussed on it I don’t really get the same out of it.

“When I’m playing handball, I just don’t have time to do other things.

“Maybe I should try to make time, but then I wouldn’t get the same feeling out of the handball.

“ Even if I won, I would still feel that I didn’t put everything into it.”

A nephew of the famed Phil ‘The Gunnar' Brady, he feels his own playing career with Cavan did not live up to expectations.

But some day he intends to utilise the expertise and the lessons he learned as an athlete to manage his county.

For now though, there is the not so small issue of his legacy to enshrine.

And if he can manage to land a truly remarkable fourth World title, he says he will finish up with an attempt to land his 10th All-Ireland title — he says the 2002 defeat to Cork's Tony Healy has spurred him on since — and leave it at that.

Other high-profile figures that are competing in this weekend's extravaganza include Cork footballer Donnchadh O'Connor and Tyrone's Peter Harte.

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