World Handball Champion Joey Maher prepares to defend his title combining training with family life and work as a painting contractor.

Joey Maher has three US Open Championships to his name, fourteen All-Ireland medals, and is the current World Handball Champion.

A sport that can at best be described as highly skilled, strenuous and extremely fast.

Handball was the sport of choice in his mother's family. Inspired by his uncle Pappy, a star player in the locality, Joey Maher also played football and did competitive cycling as a youngster.

His dedication to the sport is one of the reasons he emigrated to Canada. In 1964 he travelled to the first World Handball Championships in New York. Deciding that the best way to improve his handball skills was to emigrate, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Toronto.

Indoor, as well as outdoor courts, are the norm for Canadian and US players, and year-round training combined with the lifestyle resulted in Joey’s handball game advancing in leaps and bounds. Even in uniform, he used every opportunity to improve his skills, energetically directing traffic in a way previously unseen on the streets of Toronto.

I guess the motorists were a bit puzzled at times, but there was no accidents and I was happy anyway with my overarm game.

He went on to become Canadian champion and twice American champion. Representing Canada in 1967 he won the world title, the first Irishman to achieve such a feat.

Returning to Drogheda in 1968 he set up his own painting business while continuing to train and play handball at every opportunity. At present, he’s resting after the All Ireland series and will resume training for the World Championships in a few weeks. With his wife Dolores in charge of his dietary requirements, all that remains is for him to,

Play a fair bit of handball and keep in shape that way.

And the mental challenge of the game is just as demanding as the physical one, as a lapse in concentration means opportunities lost,

One thing you just have to get to do is to concentrate for the full 21 aces.

Joey Maher's wife Dolores supports his handball career, as do his four children. They enjoy accompanying him to games, says son David,

I love watching him play.

Music plays a close second to handball, as Joey Maher and his friend Georgie perform with their country and western band around the country.

This year the World Championships are being held at Croke Park in Dublin. Joey Maher hopes that the accompanying publicity will promote interest in the game, particularly among young people.

Among the challengers for his title, he mentions Pat Kirby a native of Tuamgraney County Clare, who will represent the United States and is guaranteed to put up a fight.

I've played Pat three times and he beat me twice and I beat him once...Pat is the man to watch.

This report for 'Sport In Action’ was broadcast on 27 August 1970. The reporter is John Kirwan.