GB handball men defeat Ireland in impressive Copper Box return

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Highlights of GB Handball's 43-16 victory over Ireland

The British men's handball team made an impressive return to the Copper Box with an emphatic 43-16 exhibition international victory over Ireland.

It was the first time the team had competed at the London 2012 handball venue since the Games and the squad's first home fixture since April 2013.

The men's and women's programmes were shut down after a post-Olympic UK Sport funding axe.

However, it is hoped both squads could be re-formed in the near future.

The GB vs Ireland fixture was part of a two-day international handball event run by London GD Handball clubexternal-link who are based at the Copper Box Arena.

Copper Box
The Copper Box hosted all of Team GB's handball matches at the London 2012 Olympics.

Steven Larsson and Mark Hawkins showed their Olympic pedigree with 11 and eight strikes respectively, while there were also strong contributions from Rafik Tahraoui and Ben Tyler.

"Scoring goals is always great, but it's a team game," said Larsson, who was one of four Team GB Olympians competing in the fixture.

"At the start we were a bit nervous as we haven't trained together at all, but we have to be happy with the way we played."

Olympic handball funding cut was 'gut-wrenching'

Both British teams lost all their matches at the London Olympics and because they were unlikely to represent realistic medal prospects for Rio 2016 or Tokyo 2020, UK Sport's 'no compromise' approach to funding saw their support withdrawn.

With the help of England Handball the GB men recently took part in a highly successful campaign at the Emerging Nations competition in Kosovo, which were their first fixtures since June 2013.

Scotland Handball assisted with a Denmark-based training camp for the women's team earlier this year and it is hoped funding can soon be found to re-start both programmes and arrange regular fixtures.