WPH Interview Series: Niamh Heffernan

Posted on Jul 17 2024 - 8:13am by DV

Race 4 Eight Interview Series

WPH Press, 6/20/24

Niahm Heffernan burst onto the WR48 tour at the 2024 Chapman, finishing third in her first WR48 start and advancing to the final in her second WR48 start at the 2024 WR48 Player’s Championship. The 23-year-old Irish sensation scored victories over WR48 stars Ashley Ruiz and Clodagh Munroe on her march into the WR48 top three, announcing herself as one of the brightest stars in the sport.

Niamh started playing handball with her sister at the age of eleven on her home court, Claregalway in Carnmore, Co. Galway, IRE and entered the 2012 World Championships after playing for just six months. Niamh would eventually rise to the top of the highly competitive Irish junior circuit, winning the 13&U World Championship in 4-Wall and 1-Wall Singles and doubles, winning the 17&U World championship in 4-Wall singles and serving as the Team Ireland representative for the 2018 World Championships.

Niamh then shifted her attention to the amateur ranks, winning the Ladies A 4-Wall World Championship singles, the All Ireland 40×20 Intermediate Championship, the All Ireland 40×20 Intermediate Doubles Championship and the 2023 USHA 4-Wall Collegiate National Championship.

The transition into the (Irish) Senior and (WR48) Pro circuits was seamless after conquering the amateur ranks, as Niamh won the 2024 All Ireland Senior 40×20 Doubles Championship with Ciana Ni Churraoin (Read more about the 2024 All Ireland Senior 40×20 Doubles HERE) and advanced to her first WR48 final at the 2024 WR48 Player’s Championship.  

Niamh is currently studying to be a PE teacher, having graduated from college in 2023 with a level 8 degree in a Bachelor of Health and Exercise course, before deciding to continue her studies to become a PE teacher. Niamh currently works in her local secondary school in Claregalway as a PE teacher.

Niamh has been successful at every level, winning big matches on the world’s biggest stages since she was thirteen but cherishes her 2024 All Ireland Senior 40×20 Doubles Championship with Ciana Ni Churraoin above all of her other accomplishments. “Being the first-ever Galway team to win the title was special,” stated Niamh. “This match could’ve gone anyway as it went to a tiebreaker with Catriona and Ashling, I was delighted to come out on top. In the tiebreaker at nine in which I killed the ball to give Ciana a serve at the game ball has been my favorite moment on the court.

In the singles, winning the 17&U World title was memorable, especially being the U17 Team Ireland representative.”

In addition to the competition, Niamh loves the traveling that comes with playing in the world’s best events. “I love travelling the world with handball,” stated Niamh. “This year was my first year competing in the pro stops in America and they were really enjoyable. I like playing different players over in America also.”

Niamh describes her handball game as being aggressive. “I like to play a fast game and go for as many kill shots as possible,” stated the WR48 #3.

Niamh’s favorite court is her home court, Claregalway, a two-court complex with one 4-Wall court and one 1-Wall court.

After her first two WR48 starts, the tour quickly became Niamh’s focus and passion. “My favourite handball tournaments would be the WPH pro stops in the USA. The competitions are very organized,” stated Niamh.

To prepare for tournaments, Niamh trains by herself three to four times a week and tries to play a match every weekend. Niamh plays Ciana as frequently as possible to stay sharp, along with the other players at Claregalway

More with Niamh

Rivals: I would probably say my biggest handball rival would’ve been Leah Doyle growing up. However, as an adult, every game is competitive and challenging, so I suppose everyone is! 

Best player she has ever played: Ciana. Ciana and I would play a lot of games together, both being from Galway. We always have a good game against each other, and I would say the two of us would be very competitive in them, which makes them enjoyable! She is very skillful and I enjoy watching her play.

Preparing for the upcoming WR48 season: I will prepare by watching my nutrition and playing different players.

Word Association with Niamh

Catriona – Motivated 

WR48 – Savage

Irish handball – Competitive

Ciana – Determined 

Your handball goals– To win a WPH pro stop

The player you would most like to beat– Catriona Casey 

Niamh Heffernan Bio

Age: 11/24/2001

Height: 5”4

Hometown: Carnmore, Co. Galway, IRE

Residence: Carnmore, Co. Galway, IRE

Strong hand: Right

Home court: Claregalway handball ally

Favorite athlete: Katie Taylor

Favorite pre-match music: Drink and Shout by Prezioso, Vini Vici, Shibui

Inspiration: Paul Brady, since a young age I’ve always looked up to Paul and I loved watching him play

Best shot: Low serve down the right side

Strengths: determination, great fundamentals, shot selection, patience

Summary: Niamh won the 2023 USHA collegiate national championships and continued her success on the WR48, finishing third in her first WR48 start at the 2024 WR48 Chapman Memorial. Well-schooled in the percentage Irish handball school, Heffernan patiently rallies, waiting to pounce on any opening.

Thank you to Niamh Heffernan for sharing her handball story.

Read many more WPH interviews HERE

David Fink

WPH Senior Writer

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.