I put all three games into one post here because each game felt remarkably similar (and I watched them all at the same pub). This year was a little unique because the all-Ireland hurling game had two final matches because the first ended in a tie. Clare ended up winning the hurling final, while Dublin ousted Mayo in a close fought football match. I knew enough about the sports to follow the action (and rooted for both Mayo and Cork in the unluckiest of fashions). The environment of the games was much like American Football and everyone in the pub was cheering after every score. My friend from Kerry brought me along as I didn’t plan on going and I’m happy he did. The GAA came about in a much different fashion than the NFL did. The NFL came about purely by capitalistic means in order to make money. The players played for money, the organizations made money and everyone was happy. The players in the GAA are technically amateurs and do not get paid a salary. I was curious as to why.
For one, the players are almost never without a job. My roommate from Kerry explained that everyone wants to hire a hurler or a footballer, even if just for the player’s name. More interestingly however, was the direct motivation behind starting the league. In the late nineteenth century, the GAA was started hand in hand with a movement to increase the Irish speaking population resulting in a complete cultural resurgence right before the 1916 rising. The GAA stuck around and made money off of endorsement deals as well as fans coming to see the games in the now massive Croke Park. The GAA was founded with intentions far beyond money like the NFL, it was founded within the spirit of revitalizing a nation.