Experience Gaelic Games

What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than in the sunshine with friends? Easy, adding Gaelic Games to the equation!

We took 14 students to Experience Gaelic Games where they got the chance to learn about and play Gaelic Football, Hurling and Gaelic Handball. Compared to the likes of basketball, American football and hockey that they are used to playing back home, the students learnt that all of these sports are 100% amateur and even though the top players play in front of crowds of up to 82,000 fans, they do not get paid a cent! Talk about “for the love of the game”!

Gaelic Football
The students getting familiar with Gaelic Football before the match

Once they got a brief description of of all 3 sports and watched a few video clips on how the sports are played and some basic “rules”, we took to the field to try out Gaelic Football. Starting with the basics of running with the ball and kicking it back up to yourself after every 4 steps (soloing), we moved on to hand passing the and then kick passing the ball. Some students picked it up pretty fast and were naturals, others needed a little more… practice. Soon enough though they started a match and were getting stuck in thick and fast, goals and points coming from all angles. If the ball went between the posts and over the bar it is counted as 1 point, if the ball went into the net it was 3 points.

Next on the agenda was hurling, the worlds fasted sport on grass! Hurling can be compared slightly to lacrosse, with a few differences. Each player has an axe shaped stick called a hurley and must use this to carry a small baseball like ball called a sliotar and try to score a goal or a point for their team. Similar to Gaelic football, each team has fifteen players and the scoring is the same. The students started by learning how to pick up the sliotar with the hurley and then how to balance it on it while moving.. this proved to be a little difficult for most. Once they had mastered the art of balancing, the next challenge was striking the sliotar, whether to pass it to a team mate or to take a shot for a score. All of this practice lead to a match that turned out to be pretty competitive and with 2 goals each a tie was well deserved for both teams.

Hurling time
Meghan Condon feeling confident about the Hurling task that was awaiting her

The final sport of the day was Gaelic Handball which can best be described as racquetball…. without the rackets. In a 1 v 1 game, the students had to bounce the ball off of the wall with an open palm with their opponent then having to do the same before the ball bounced more than once and so on. This game was a lot easier than the previous two with less rules and complicated guidelines.

Overall the day was a success with some students favoring one of the sports over another and some just liking all 3 equally. We have informed them that there is indeed a Hurling team in Champlain if they wish to continue their new found love and pass on this great sport to other Champlainers.

Gaelic Handball
Some of the students getting in some last minute Gaelic Handball practice

Adam Clark
Head Resident & Activity Coordinator
Champlain Abroad Dublin

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