I am college football fan and especially love the UCLA Bruins. One of our planned activities on our trip to Ireland was to attend the college football game of Notre Dame University playing the Naval Academy at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Because of my love of college football and also basketball, I was interested to find out what role sports played in the lives of the Irish.
On our bus trip to Galway, our tour guide told us about Gaelic football and that they were now in the playoff games. Each county in Ireland had a football team and the people of the county showed their support. Galway’s team was in the playoffs and there was a big banner in the middle of Quay Street (where shops and restaurants are) encouraging their team to win. The All Ireland Senior Football Final would be held on the 3rd Sunday in September. I am guessing that this is akin to our Super Bowl (I’m sure not televised all over the world but probably just as important to the Irish!).
The other sport I learned about was hurling. According to the GAA.ie website, “hurling is believed to be the world’s oldest field game.” The stick used in hurling is called a “hurley” and is curved outwards. The ball (which is called a sliotar) is about the size of a hockey ball. I don’t understand all the rules but there are goalposts involved and the scoring values are similar to those used in Gaelic football.
As I mentioned before, I did have the opportunity to attend the “Emerald Isle Classic” American college football game between Notre Dame and Navy. The Aviva Stadium is only 2 ½ years old and is very futuristic looking. It was fun being in a smaller stadium (seating 40,000 compared to 100,000). While Notre Dame wasn't designated as the home team, they did wear Adidas shoes that were the colors of the Irish flag. The Fighting Irish did win the game and began their undefeated season.