Tuesday, July 26, 2005

More on GAA Sundays and hurling

I’VE written before about summer Sundays and the GAA, and last weekend was no exception to my previous description, but one very funny thing did happen.


Pic from www.ul.ie

In my previous post on this, I spoke about people sitting in traffic waiting to get close enough to Croke Park before parking up.

Well the traffic surpassed itself on my road this weekend and went on for a long time. At one point a minibus of people was sitting outside my house for an age as I pottered about in slow Sunday fashion.

I felt watched and looked out the window to see a rake of faces all peering in at me in that kinda lazy ‘I’m so bored, I half staring into space and half nosing very much into your home’, so I waved at them.

And they all, at the same time, tentatively waved back at me.

I laughed heartily, and so did they, hope they had a good day in Croker.
This came to mind because I have just received this in an email from a pal, the quotes at the end are priceless though I have read other equally funny ones.

This is the Lonely Planets description of Hurling!

Hurling isn't what the Irish do when they've had too much Guinness (well, not always). It's actually a mad kind of aerial hockey invented to make the English feel embarrassed about tiggy-touchwood soccer. If you haven't had the twisted pleasure of seeing this example of man's inhumanity to man, head to the Emerald Isle - but keep your head down.

This 15-century-old activity pulls no punches. A hurling match is perhaps the fastest spectator sport in the world (with only ice hockey matching it for up-close frenzy). From a distance it resembles a roaming pack-fight between men with thin pale legs and names like Liam and Sean. At ground level it's much more frightening, a kind of 15-a-side escape from the asylum.

Hurling is rapid, breakneck and rambunctious. The game moves too fast for the novice to understand anything but the most basic rules, but you can start by imagining an egg-and-spoon race with a pack of enormous angry stick-wielding roosters charging the leader. The aim is to hurtle a pellet-hard ball called a sliotar into goals using a stick with a paddle at its end (hurley). The players balance the sliotar on their hurley and then run, hit or bounce it forward, sometimes with all limbs attached. It's when the ball falls loose into a pack that the bravery (or stupidity) of the combatants becomes clear.

The running game becomes like stationery game of no-rules hockey as players run in swinging their hurleys in the manner of a lumberjack on speed. Whacks to the shins are common, as is the occasional broken hand as some poor soul actually tries to pick the sliotar up out of this chaos. The best place to see hurling is the atmospheric Croke Park in Dublin. It's home of the GAA - hurling’s governing body - and the scene of high-attendance finals matches.

For those with an interest in the game's long history, Croke Park also hosts a high-tech museum. Of course, with the Irish being such great travellers, there's probably a game going on near you this weekend too.

GAA Quotes

1. "I love Cork so much that if I caught one of their hurlers in bed with my missus, I'd tiptoe downstairs and make him a cup of tea"- Joe Lynch, actor.

2. "We've won one All-Ireland in a row" -- Wexford Fan in 1996.

3. "The toughest match I ever heard off was the 1935 All-Ireland Semi-Final. After 6 minutes, the ball ricocheted off a post and went into the stand. The pulling continued
relentlessly and it was 22 minutes before any of the players noticed the ball was missing" - Michael Smith.

4. "Sylvie Linnane would start a riot in a graveyard" -- Tipp fan

5. "I'm not giving away any secrets like that to Tipperary. If I had my way, I wouldn't even tell them the time of the throw-in" - Ger Loughnane.

6. "He's like Lazarus; but Lazarus didn't have such a sweet right boot" - Micheal O' Muircheartaigh on Colin Corkery.

7. "Whenever a team loses, there's always a row at half time but when they win, it's an inspirational speech" -- John O' Mahony.

8. "There are 2 things in Ireland that would drive you to drink. GAA referees would drive you to drink, and the price of drink would drive you to drink" -- Sligo Fan after 2002 Connaught final.

9. "The wheel fell off my mobile home" -- Offaly's Eugene McGee explains why he was late for training.

10. "When my friends were besotted with Jason Donovan, my heroes were Colm O'Rourke and Barney Rock" -- Sue Ramsbottom (Laois Ladies Captain).

11. 'We're taking this match awful seriously. We're training three times a week now, and some of the boys are off the beer since Tuesday' - Offaly hurler quote in the week before a Leinster hurling final vs. Kilkenny

12. 'Ger Loughnane was fair, he treated us all the same during training-like dogs' - anonymous Clare hurler

13. 'Any chance of an autograph? Its for the wife....she really hates you' - Tipp fan to Ger Loughnane

14. 'You can't win derbies with donkeys' - Babs Keating before Tipp played Cork in 1990

15. 'Sheep in a heap' - Babs Keating description of Offaly in 1998.

16. 'Babs Keating 'resigned' as coach because of illness and fatigue. The players were sick and tired of him' - Offaly fan in 1998

17. 'And as for you. You're not even good enough to play for this shower of useless no-hopers' - Former Clare mentor to one of his subs after a heavy defeat

18. 'Babs Keating was arrested in Nenagh for shaking a cigarette machine, but the gardai let him off when he said he only wanted to borrow twenty players' - Waterford fan after 2002 Munster final

19. 'They have a forward line that couldn't punch holes in a paper bag' - Pat Spillane on the Cavan football team

20. 'Meath players like to get their retaliation in first' - Cork fan1988

21. 'Meath make football a colourful game-you get all black and blue' - another Cork fan 1988

22. 'Colin Corkery is deceptive. He is slower than he looks' - Kerry fan

23. 'Life isn't all beer and football...some of us haven't touched a football in months' - Kerry player during league campaign 1980s

1 comment:

Fi said...

My Dad is a huge hurling fan! And so am I as I was raised on the sideline! I had to send this post to him I'm sure it'll crack him up! It amused be highly that his home county isn't exactly portrayed here in the best light although it has to be said none of it sounds at all improbable to me!