Irish Football and Hurling

1 Oct

This past Friday some of us took a trip to Killester to learn about the history of the GAA – or so we thought. My expectation was that we would listen to a businessman or if we were lucky an athlete talk about the GAA and the sports it fosters. Maybe we’d even get to walk on a pitch where real matches are played. I was very, very wrong.  We crowded into a classroom for a short while, no more than thirty minutes, to watch a presentation and video of hurling and irish football. Then we grabbed our gear and took to the pitch to practice the basics of irish football. I played soccer as a kid but stopped when I was ten, so I was rusty. That being said, it didn’t take long to get the hang of running and kicking the ball back up to myself. It was difficult for sure and if I was running full speed I imagine it would be like trying to tie my shoes while walking. Then i remembered other people, big strong men, would be trying to shoulder me to the ground while trying to dribble the ball. Only then did I realize how hard the sport really is.

After a bit of that, we picked up our axes and practiced hurling. I’ve never done anything like hurling before. Never played hockey or any of that. I used to be a big athlete, but stopped playing because I hurt my arm. Being out on that field and getting a little competitive was invigorating and purely fun. It reminded me how much I love sports. I got our team a point from a good distance which I was proud of. We began by passing a squishier and larger version of the sliotar on the ground at a close distance from our partners. Then we moved back a bit and practiced passing through the air which was inevitably more difficult. I feel like hurling is a game that is easy to get decent at, but difficult to get great at. I want to play again soon.

I’ve gotten the sense that knowing your sports is an easy way in with the Irish community. I now feel confident in my basic understanding of the two primary Irish sports. Furthermore,  it’s nice seeing people fired up about a sport since I’m out of the NFL loop. This trip turned out to be much more than a history lesson and I am glad for many reasons that I was able to experience Irish sports. Check out the link below to see what Irish sport is all about!


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