Trinity handball star claims intervarsity success

Captain of Trinity Handball, Cuileann Bourke, recently defended her crown as the Irish Third Level Ladies’ Open Wallball Champion

Senior Sophister Deaf Studies student, Cuileann Bourke, recently competed at the Irish College Handball Association’s (ICHA) Intervarsity Wallball Championship. Hosted in Spa Killarney Handball Club, Bourke defended her Women’s Open title and took home the top women’s competition trophy for Trinity. Trinity Handball also saw solid representation on the men’s side of the competition, with Eoghan Daly reaching the quarter-finals of the Men’s A category.

Over the course of a lively day’s worth of competition, Bourke topped the group stages and proceeded directly to the Women’s Open semi-final. A dominant performance over the University of Limerick’s (UL) Siobhán Treacy, a Roscommon native of St. Coman’s Club, followed. Bourke claimed an impressive 21-11 win over the former U17 All-Ireland champion, with focus then turning to the final against UL’s Leah Minogue.

A closer battle followed between Minogue and Bourke. Minogue, a member of Tuamgraney Handball Club in Co. Clare and a former All-Ireland doubles champion, proved a formidable opponent, but Bourke emerged triumphant after an attritional contest, with the scoreline reading 25-21 in favour of the Trinity athlete. Minogue later received compensation in the form of a 21-16 win in the Women’s Open Double alongside her partner Emer Barron, against their UL compatriots Alanna Coggeran and Siobhán Treacy.

Hailing from Belcarra Club in Co. Mayo, Bourke is unquestionably the current driving force behind handball’s presence in Trinity. Having overseen the establishment of DU Handball in 2022/23, Bourke has been Captain ever since, and generally takes absolute responsibility for all Club activities, from the training schedule to travel arrangements. This commitment certainly flows partially from her current position as one of handball’s most talented athletes, but it’s hard not to conclude that an overriding grá and passion for the sport also plays a part. Familial involvement in the sport at the alley in Belcarra stretches back generations, and Bourke herself has played since a family friend brought her to the club for the first time when she was eight years old. 

Life as a high-performing handball player attending Trinity College has recently become much more straightforward with the long-awaited opening of Printing House Square on October 9. Although the most visible element of Trinity’s newest Square is certainly the 249 brand-new student rooms, the project also contains Trinity Sport’s latest facilities. There are 3 new 63 square metre, dynamic squash courts, an Olympic-standard target range, and most importantly for Bourke, a 40  x 20 feet (“small alley”) handball alley can be found underneath the accommodation. Bourke and Trinity Handball teammate Noelle Dowling gave an exhibition of a singles play on the day of the official opening. The provision of such facilities to College athletes is long overdue, so it is indisputable that their presence will make a massive difference for Trinity Handball going forwards. As recently as last year, Cuileann faced a regular midweek trek to St. Brigid’s GAA Club in Castleknock for alley access. 

Bourke is also a Trinity Sports Scholar, an accolade granted to “gifted athletes” who have made Trinity their home. The programme grants its awardees benefits such as specialised strength and conditioning training, a dedicated medical care pathway, and lifestyle, nutritional, and financial support. In a previous interview with Trinity News, Bourke commented that the support she receives from the programme is “second to none”, having been a recipient of support from the scheme since she arrived at Trinity for her Junior Fresh year in 2020/21.  An event to celebrate this year’s Scholars will be held on Monday November 13 at the Dining Hall of College, where a select number of student-athletes will also take part in a panel discussion titled Resilience in Sport and in Life.

If interested in joining DU Handball or giving the sport a try, reach out on Instagram to @tcdhandball, or contact Cuileann Bourke, Captain 2023/24, directly via email or phone at [email protected] or 086 2244 186

Jane Prendergast

Jane Prendergast is Co-Sports Editor of Trinity News. She is a Junior Sophister student of Law.