The handball club’s European adventures in the second half of 2017 year saw them travel to eastern Spain and northern Netherlands to compete in the European Pro Wallball Tour. Following the club’s incredible success in recent years, a number of players were promoted to the Open division which sees only the top 16 players from around Europe compete against each other. The jump in quality was immediately noticeable with the club’s fortunes suffering a slight dip compared to previous years but the club still managed to return with one gold and four bronze medals.
Valencia was the host for the first stop of the semester in October and saw an 11 strong team travel to attempt to thrive the searing heat of the Iberian peninsula. Four UL players competed in the Men’s Open division, seeing the club have the biggest representation in the top division. Michael Hedigan, Daniel Relihan and John Bosco Hurley were experiencing their first games in the top division of the European competition and struggled to adapt to the increased pace, power and skill of their opponents. Although they failed to progress from their groups, the experience will undoubtedly aid them in future competitions. Paudi Quish, with his vast array of experience in the top division, had little trouble racing through his group and qualifying for the quarter-final. He continued his impressive form until the semi-final where he faced the daring Englishman Luke Thompson. Unfortunately, Paudi struggled to adapt to the left-hander and fell to a narrow 15-13 loss. He did manage to re-group and claim bronze as he finished third to claim the first medal of the semester for the club. In the B division Seamus Conneely had several composed performances on his way to claiming a bronze medal.
The doubles proved particularly tough for the players as the mercury rose rapidly on the Sunday morning. The pale-skinned Irish students struggled to cope with the heat on the outdoor courts and sufffered some agonising early defeats in the group stages. The aftermath of the carnage saw four doubles pairings exit at the quarter-final stage. Colin Corbett and Colin Crehan were relegated to the B plate following the group stages but managed to re-group and claim gold in the division as they finally grew accustomed to the temperature. Paudi Quish was once again the club's main hope in the Open division but ince again fell agonisingly close at the semi-final stage. He picked himself up again to claim his second bronze medal of the tournament.
The club moved onto Northern Netherlands in November for the second European adventure of the semester. This saw four UL men brave the biting cold conditions of the Dutch nation. James Prentice proved to be UL's sole representative in the Open singles division. This was his first foray into the top division and it proved to be an extremely unlucky adventure. James claimed two extremely impressive scalps in the group stage and looked guaranteed to progress to the quarter-final stage. However, a 15-10 loss saw three players locked together on two wins and Prentice was eliminated by two aces in agonising circumstances. In the B division Jack Coughlan, in his debut on the European Tour, caused several upsets before falling at the semi-final stage. He managed to cause one last upset to claim a bronze medal and his performances will no doubt see him claim further medals in the future. John Bosco Hurley was equally impressive before coming up against the eventual champion in the quarter-final stage in a tense encounter. In the doubles Adrian English and Jack Coughlan combined with John Bosco
Hurley and James Prentice partnering Dutch players to add some more international flavour to the club's adventures. English/Coughlan and John Bosco Hurley both progressed from their groups but came unstuck at the quarter-final stage. Prentice and his Dutch partner defeated English/Coughlan to reach the semi-final where they narrowly lost to the eventual champions before claiming another bronze medal for the club.
The players performances over the last few years have seen several of the club's players climb their way up the European rankings with Paudi Quish now ranked as European no. 5. The players will hope to improve their rankings further in the New Year as the UK and French Opens come around.