E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Donner le balà quelquuk (French). To make one dance for it; to abuse one. In several games played with a ball, the person who catches the ball or to whom the ball is given, is put to an immense amount of labour. Thus, in Hurling, the person who holds the ball has one of the labours of Hercules to pass through. His opponent tries to lay hold of him, and the hurler makes his way over hills, dales, hedges, and ditches, through bushes, briars, mire, plashes, and even rivers. Sometimes twenty or thirty persons lie tugging together in the water, scrambling and scratching for the ball. (See Strutt, Sports and Pastimes, section xii.) (See BALL.)