More than 200 competitors from across Ireland and abroad gathered in Belfast for a major handball competition this weekend.

The Golden Gloves tournament, hosted by St Paul's GAA club, is one of the best attended in the country.

It also attracted competitors from the US, Canada and Spain.

Over the three days, there are 300 games in ten venues across the city, which has some of the best handball infrastructure in the country.

Competitions are run from Under-13 to the Over-60s, but most of the attention focuses on the senior men's and women's titles.

Diarmuid Nash from Clare and Peter Funchion from Kilkenny in action in the Men's Senior Semi Final

Big name players say it marks the beginning of the competitive year and many make the effort to attend.

Tournament organiser Séamus Ó Tuama said it was the 34th year of the competition.

He acknowledges that handball does not have the profile of other GAA sports but says its fans are a committed bunch.

"There's a large underground handball community there so it is popular.

"And the juvenile numbers are on the increase as well, there's a lot of work being done in Belfast around the juvenile leagues and schools.

Crowds enjoy the handball competition

"Tournaments like this help raise the profile of the game that we love."

Westmeath player Robbie McCarthy said players who came were well looked after in terms of accommodation, food and physio.

"You want for nothing here. You're really well appreciated and looked after here. This is a no-brainer for senior players. We always make it our business to try and get here."

As well as the players, many family members come to Belfast for the weekend, and take the opportunity to do some Christmas shopping.

So, it is a boost for the Belfast economy as well as a vote of confidence in the future of the sport.