This weekend I got to try my hand at some of the Gaelic games (hurling and Gaelic football). I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not really one to play ball sports, but as a group, we all did fairly well in our training drills and game play. I mentioned in my last post how hurling is a combination of lacrosse, hockey, and baseball mixed with a healthy dose of insanity and beatings. Gaelic football is a mix of football/soccer, handball, and some aspects of volleyball and played somewhat similarly to basketball. Both hurling and Gaelic football are played on a field larger than an American football field with 15 players per team. Hurling is played with wooden stick called a hurley (or camán) which is usually between 70 and 100 cm (28 to 40 inches) long with a flattened, curved end used for striking the sliotar. The sliotar is a hard ball, similar to a baseball with more pronounced stitching. While we were playing, we used tennis balls (for our own safety) but ended up splitting most of them in half. It was great fun and I really want to buy a hurley to take home with me!
Sunday afternoon, some of the group went to a hurling match at Croke Park. We went to the Leinster Final: Dublin v. Galway. Dublin won the match and the Bob O’Keefe Cup for the first time since 1961! It was an exciting match; Dublin came out swinging from the beginning and scored a lot, quickly. On average, there was about a score every minute, just goes to prove that hurling is the fastest game on grass. The final score was 2-25 to 2-13 (Dublin had 2 goals worth 3-points each and 25 scores through the uprights worth 1-point each, Galway 2 goals and 13 through the uprights, so the total score was 31 to 19).
During the game, I was sitting behind a group of children (probably around age 10-12) who all hurl together and support Dublin and I was beside a women supporting Galway (the stands are completely mixed). At the beginning of the match as the teams walked around the field and were announced, the women was cheering for Galway and one of the kids in front of me turned around and said, “Galway sucks!” there was no response from the woman, but one of the chaperones with the group of kids gave him a quick look and he turned around. The Galway fan was not happy throughout much of the match, her team was not doing very well at all. Part way through the first half she began a slur of expletives, complaining, and claiming she was about to leave which was all periodically broken up when Galway would score. (She did end up leaving about half way through the second half when there was really no hope for Galway.) It was a great afternoon and a very exciting match to attend. Congrats to Dublin, the Mighty Boys in Blue, for their victory and raising the Bob O’Keefe Cup again after 52 years!