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Microball makes its debut in Mayo


FUN The St Louis CS TY students, pictured with their teachers Amy Hopkins (far left) and Marie Flanagan (centre right), alongside Microball creater Keith Francis during last Thursday’s demonstration.

The new sport of microball was piloted in St Louis CS, Kiltimagh recently

Ger Flanagan

SOME students at St Louis CS, Kiltimagh were introduced to the first ever demonstration of the new sport of microball recently in their school gym.
Microball is the brainwave of Kerry native Keith Francis, and is a team sport with similar principles to Olympic Handball. Two five-a-side teams aim to collect the most points by the end of each quarter, with five points being rewarded for a goal, three for throwing the ball over the bar, and two for ‘wides’ – throwing the ball slightly wide of the posts.
The team who wins a total of three quarters wins the game.
“It’s been in my head for about 15 years now and it’s only really been in the last year or so that I got around to actually codifying it,” Keith Francis told The Mayo News. “I took influences from a lot of sports, Olympic Handball, Gaelic [football], soccer, Australian Rules and soccer even to make it happen.
“It’s going great too. I think it’s actually being played as I expected it to be played. Obviously whenever a new sport is played there is always going to be teething problems, but from what I’ve seen so far, it definitely seems viable.”
By all accounts the Transition Year students of Kiltimagh, under the tutelage of teachers Amy Hopkins and Marie Flanagan, appeared to be enjoying themselves when The Mayo News visited.
From the outside looking in, the biggest difficulty seemed to be the small racquetball ball being used.
During the demonstration game, the likes of goalkeeper Cara Walsh, Shane McHugh, Chloe Houlihan, Ava Lavelle and Rory McCabe seemed to be adapting well, while Irish international soccer star Hanna Ueno took to it like a duck to water.
“It has the same basics as soccer,” Ueno told The Mayo News. “It’s all about moving around and using your team-mates. The ball is small, but it makes it more fun.
“It’s not too physical either. It’s all about possession and keeping it away from the enemy. I won’t give up the soccer for it yet, but I would play it again.”
Fellow student Jack McGovern added that he ‘will certainly try it again’.
Some interesting aspects to the game include the 30-second limit during which a team has to try and work a score before the ball is turned over; or the four seconds and two steps allowed in possession before a bounce can be taken.
“We’re always open to trying new sports here in St Louis,” PE teacher Marie Flanagan said. “Microball is great for developing the basic fundamental skills such as moving, throwing and catching.”
The game is still very much in its infancy, but with a demonstration in Tuam the following day, Keith Francis was trying his hardest to get it up and running.
One thing is for certain, if people match a fraction of his enthusiasm, it should prove popular.
“The aim is to bed the sports in and hopefully get a few clubs set up in Dublin where I’m based,” he said. “But of course I’m happy to incorporate all takers. Ultimately the sport is not going to be able to rely on just one or two people, it’s going to need several to take it all in and survive.
“At first the response from the studwents was one of amusement, but they seemed to be interested and went along with it. So hopefully the reaction will be positive.”

For more information on the sport contact Keith at teammicroball@gmail.com