Tag Archives: Hurling

Up the Dubs!

Up the Dubs! The crest of Dublin GAA

emily mazzara, ‘21 // professional writing, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Every country and culture across the planet has a sport that brings people together and connects communities. In America it’s football. In most other countries it’s football (or soccer to us States people). In Canada it’s hockey eh. As I found out during my first few weeks, Ireland’s sport is football, but yet another variation than the two I have already mentioned. Now, I have gone from not knowing this game existed, to having played it and cheered on the Dublin home team in the national finals all in the span of two weeks.

On Friday September 30, Tony, Champlain Abroad’s Student Life Manager, took a group of us out to a Gaelic Games club to learn about Irish sports. While American kids are playing soccer, football, and baseball at age five, Irish children are learning to play hurling, Irish football, and handball. These three games are the backbone of community pride all across Ireland. A few of the older club members very patiently taught us how each of the three games are played before releasing us to duke it out in a match. Suffice to say, they probably had a good laugh or two at our expense. 

Champlain College students lined up to learn the rules of hurling. Photo credit: Emily Mazzara ’21.

Alongside teaching us about how the games are played, one of the club’s coaches also explained the cultural significance to the sports. Unlike in the US where players are bought and traded like the collectable cards their pictures are on, in Ireland the only team you are able to play for is the one in the county where you grew up. If a player is asked to join their county’s team it is considered an honor to be a representative out on the field. But the biggest difference of all…players aren’t paid. Every athlete has a year-round day job, on season and off. Because of these two facts, people are extremely invested and proud of their hometown sports teams. It is less like cheering for a group of athletes in a game and closer to the pride felt when watching a group of warriors win a battle. The loyalty and dedication of both the team and the fans is intense. 

The classic group photo! Happy Champlain College students after a day of learning and experiencing gaelic games.

All of this learning about and experiencing of the games helped to prepare me for going to watch the Gaelic football national finals that Sunday. The game was between Dublin, our honorary home team (Up the Dubs!) and Kerry. Almost the entire Champlain group went down to a local pub to watch the game out in the community and get the full experience. If you think your dad is loud when he shouts at the football players on the TV, he is nothing compared to the Irish when their team is one point down and overtime is running out. It was incredibly fun feeling like a part of the action, even as a Dublin transplant. Attending the Gaelic Games outing helped me to better appreciate going to the match later because I not only knew how the game was played, scored and won, but how important it was to the people of Ireland. It’s an experience I cannot wait to have again when the rematch game is played in two weeks. UP the DUBS!

 

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All Things Irish Sports

By: dylan helstien, ’17 // Professional writing

Hurling ball and Hurley

Hurley stick and sliotar – part of the Irish sport of Hurling

Hurling, is one of the three famous Gaelic or Irish sports. If you asked me about it before coming to Ireland I would have no idea about Gaelic Football, Handball or Hurling. Only now I know Hurling is one of the most interesting and fun to watch sport out there. Imagine the aggression of lacrosse with the agility of rugby and speed of baseball all played out on a soccer field with the point system of football (there are two goals, one with three points and the other worth one point). Each player has their own hurley, a hockey type stick, but instead of being played on the ground like hockey, the sliotar (leather ball), is hit with the hurley towards teammates in hopes that they will catch it with their bare hands before running it up the field or passing it on. The sport is full contact and the only padding they have is the recently added helmets to protect them from the hurleys, which are handled like baseball bats. Sounds terrifying if you ask me.

Champlain Abroad Dublin was kind enough to introduce us to this sport by giving us the opportunity for first hand experience through the coaches of the Dublin company Experience Gaelic Games. We began with learning the rules of the game (there aren’t many rules) before being thrust into a game ourselves. Of course, we were only playing against each other so it wasn’t the most thrilling game as we struggled to get the ball off the ground, but nonetheless, it was exhilarating.

Champlain students experiencing Irish sports in Dublin

We were also taught how to play Gaelic football, which is basically rugby but with a soccer ball, before being able to play a game between ourselves. Having played soccer for most of my life I would have guessed I would like Gaelic football more than hurling but with recent experience playing volleyball I kept trying to set and spike the ball, go figure. Although it was a great experience I think I’ll stick to watching the sport. Something that would actually come to fruition as Champlain Dublin staff worked out a deal on tickets to a game at Croke Park.

Everyone who was interested in going to the game met up in city center before making the short trek to the stadium. The closer we got to the stadium the more exciting it all became as street vendors selling merchandise became more frequent and the roar of the crowd grew louder. Once we found our seats it was easy to jump right into the game. There was two games, the first game was hurling and the second was Gaelic football both of which were between County Dublin and County Cork. Of course, we wanted County Dublin to win as any true Dub would. The stadium was full of Dublin fans decorated in the Dublin colors of blue and navy. There was always a good laugh when a diehard fan would start yelling profanities in true Irish nature at whichever player they believed wasn’t doing their best. It was even more funny when we turned around to see the diehard fan was a young teenage boy.

Croke Park Dublin

Champlain Abroad students attending a Gaelic Football match in Croke Park, Dublin.

The first game was really fast as each half of the game is thirty-five minutes long and they don’t stop the clock for anything other than halftime, something I really appreciated. American sports stop the clock every 10 seconds, meaning one game can last up to 6 hours. Not only did the time go fast because they didn’t stop the clock but the ball is constantly moving with the players elbowing, tripping, and shoving their way to victory. How could you not watch? There’s something about watching players rip each other apart to win a game all in good fun. It’s also fascinating to see them hit the ground like a freight train only to bounce back up and run for the ball. I couldn’t help but compare them to every soccer player who gets a boo boo. The players reminded me of one of my Irish professors who told me that the Irish are resilient. Continue reading

For the Love of Gaelic Games

Of two things I am positive: Irish sports are some of the most exciting games to partake in, and I should stick to watching as opposed to actually playing.
This weekend, more than half of the Champlain Abroad Dublin students attended Experience Gaelic Games, an almost four hour session where we were taught the art of three of Ireland’s most popular sports—handball, hurling, and Gaelic football. There was time devoted to each to learn the basics, work with a partner to put passing techniques into practice, and finally to play a match.
I’ve never been athletically inclined. Growing up a dancer, with the only equipment needed being performance shoes and a ballet bar, I’ve been so out of the earshot of sports. In gym class throughout school, I would stand back and let everyone else duke it out on the court or field, and follow the herd of kids running towards the ball in play. But I was pumped for the day. New sports, new me, right?

Champlain GAA

Champlain Abroad students learning hurling techniques

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