Most Sunday nights at 11:30 pm you’ll find me sitting in bed, binge-watching a show on Netflix for the umpteenth time. However, on February 1 I was watching television, not in my bed, but rather Harry’s on the Green. It was Superbowl Sunday, the crème de la crème of American sporting events and end of another NFL season. After the final touchdown was scored, and the New England Patriots rushed the field, that was it, football season was over, right? Wrong. A mere week later I found myself watching another football game, but not just any old-NFL football game, no, this was a Gaelic football game.
After making our way to Croke Park and finding our seats (which were eleven rows away from the field) what I was about to witness was something so surprisingly different from American football that the likes of Tom Brady or Peyton Manning wouldn’t even have recognized what they were watching. While it resembles the US sport somewhat, Gaelic football could more adequately be described at the lovechild of basketball, American football, and soccer. Imagine a normal NFL field, put a soccer goal in front of the goalpost, decrease the amount of penalties and protective gear by 75%, add in the ability for players to carry, dribble, kick, and hand-pass the ball (which resembles a volleyball), and voilà! You have Gaelic football.
Despite its differences, the match was an absolute blast. The rules were easy enough to pick up and the crowd’s energy was contagious. I was surprised by the number of families attending the game, the majority of which had at least two kids under the age of 12, since NFL games back in the States can be a little kid-unfriendly. By the end of the match Dublin was ahead and to our surprise, the exiting song was Cockles and Mussels so we got to put some of our Irish Life and Culture knowledge to the test.