A nice day to hurl

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August 16, 2010 by jessperriam

It was Sunday morning in Dublin and I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. There’s only so many times you can take your cues from the Lonely Planet guides.

I crossed the River Liffey and noticed that so were others. Some were wearing blue and yellow, other blue and white. They were heading to a match of some sort and I decided then and there that I wanted to go.

So I asked a man on the corner, flogging headbands (read: braided wool) in the team colours what they were seeing.

“Hrrr mrrrrrn nh nh.”

“I’m sorry?” I couldn’t understand his incredibly thick Irish accent.

“Hrr mrrrrrn nh nh. It’s at Croke Park.”

“Sounds interesting. I want to go, how do you get there?”

“Just follow everyone, you can’t miss it.”

“”Cool, I’ll grab one of the blue and yellow ones thanks.” It was official – I was going for the blue and yellow team. Whoever they were… whatever sport they were playing.

Somehow I found out that the sport wasn’t football, nor was it Gaelic Football. So flicking through Irish guidebooks in the nearby bookstore, I figured out it was hurling.

Hurling?! I though that was something you did in the privacy of your own bathroom at 3am after a few reds too many – a courtesy spew if you will.

But as it turns out, hurling is probably the closest thing we’ll ever see to quidditch in real life.

Except there are no broomsticks and there’s no golden snitch.

It involves two teams trying to get what looks to be a hockey ball into a net at the bottom of some rugby posts. And they can do that with a paddle (kind of like a hockey stick with a bigger bottom), by throwing it or kicking it. If they get the ball in the net, they get a goal (three points) if they get it through the two posts above, they get one point.

Anything goes. They wear helmets for a reason.

If you’re still confused, check some hurling out on YouTube…

I made my way to the upper tier of the Cusack Stand at Croke Park, where I discovered the blue and yellow team was Tipperary and the blue and white team was Waterford. “Geez, I hope Tipperary don’t suck as much as the West Coast Eagles do right now,” I thought to myself as I wound the woollen headband around my wrist.

I sat next to a grandfatherly fellow who was happy mumbling away to himself as he took in the scene.

The announcer introduced the teams.

“oh de dorrr Molumphy.” mumbled the old chap in reply.  He sounded happy. He made me smile.

“Go Tip!” yelled a young girl every few minutes.

To cut a long story short, hurling is a great game. It has the speed of Aussie Rules with the fun of using paddles that can really do someone harm. One player got hit in the wrist, while another one got hit in the head

Hurling... it's a sport, not a drunken reaction

Tipperary won the game convincingly and restored my faith in teams wearing blue and gold.

I think I’ve found a new favourite sport… don’t know if I’d be game enough to try it myself.

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