Irish success in beach volleyball might always have been one of those ironic jokes but 2019 has been a landmark year for the sport in Ireland.
In June, Volleyball Ireland hosted an Olympic Qualifier for the Tokyo Games on the beach at Bettystown in County Meath.
Now this weekend, no fewer than three Irish teams finished in the top eight of the Small Countries Association Senior Championships in Perth, Scotland.
The results are a clear indicator of positive progress as Volleyball Ireland looks to increase participation and improve performance on the International stage.
The top ranked pairing of Miriam Gormally and Alex Graves came agonisingly close to a podium finish, losing the 3rd place playoff match to the tournament hosts Scotland.
“It was really great to get back on the sand representing Ireland after the Continental Cup in June,” said Graves. “All four teams battled really well and to get three in the top eight is a good sign.”
The volleyball focus switches back to indoors now but the sand will be upportmost in mind at administrative level where Volleyball Ireland are hoping to secure Sports Capital grant funding to aid the construction of a first inland court here in Ireland and to support the implementation of permanent posts on a number of beaches around the country.
Image Credit: Dan Sheridan, Inpho.ie