Author: The gaelic games are ‘Waiting to Launch’ in America

Eamonn Gormley, a fellow whom I’ve thanked numerous times for his amazing “Fastest Game on Grass” video, has just completed a new book on the gaelic games, where he offers a plan to push hurling and gaelic football into the global mainstream — and that, of course, means bringing it to America as well.

BRING IT ON: Eamonn Gormley's new book "Waiting to Launch" provides an outline to introduce hurling and gaelic football to a wider American audience.

BRING IT ON: Eamonn Gormley’s new book “Waiting to Launch” provides an outline to introduce hurling and gaelic football to a wider American audience.

Titled “Waiting to Launch: The Untapped Global Potential of Gaelic Games,” the book was published as an 185-page e-book late in February 2014 and already has several five-star reviews on Amazon.

Gormley, who hails from Lurgan in County Armagh, came to the U.S. to work in Silicon Valley and soon became one of the North American County Board’s key people — serving as the national public relations officer and serving as the Western division chair. He also starting up a national collegiate league and served as its chair.

With those experiences, he saw how quickly Americans took to the sports and he began to wonder why the GAA  failed to bring their sports to an international audience.

“Two things need to happen first,” Gormley said in an chat interview. “One is to get a national governing body established and to stop this silly partition between New York and the rest of the country. The other is to get the games onto mainstream cable networks at peak viewing time in an edited highlights show with American presenters and American production designed to appeal to first-time viewers.”

Gormley said that bringing GAA competition to a U.S. cable network would only cost about $5 million, and he expects the GAA could throw in $1 million. From there, he believes corporate sponsors could put together the rest.  “Entirely achievable,” he said.

Gormley isn’t fooling himself though.  He agrees that getting them on TV would just be a step to a larger goal. “(It) would raise their profile out of obscurity and while it may not put them on a par with soccer, it would at least put them in the same league as lacrosse or rugby,” he said.  “If we could make them Olympic sports that would be ideal, but that’s a medium to long term project.”

He talks even more about the book in an interview with the Irish Examiner.

Here at Hurley to Rise, I also wrote a series of posts on what the GAA needs to do to introduce the gaelic games to a greater American audience. Check out the stories here:

Between you and me, I’m stoked to read Gormley’s book. My series was just hitting on some ideas I had on my own. Gormley, on the other hand, has been in the trenches with the organization and dealt with its politics. Without a doubt, he’s got a better grasp on the GAA, its failings and potential. Don’t pass up a chance to read “Waiting to Launch.”

Have you read the book yet? Got any ideas for a GAA American initiative? If you do, leave a comment below.

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Chris O’Dowd: Actor and gaelic sports hero

COMEDIAN: You can see Chris O'Dowd in "Bridesmaids" and "Thor: The Dark World." One of his early British TV series, "The IT Crowd" is available on Netflix.

COMEDIAN: You can see Chris O’Dowd in “Bridesmaids” and “Thor: The Dark World.” One of his early British TV series, “The IT Crowd” is available on Netflix.

It can be difficult to get a good grasp on the sports of hurling and gaelic football for Americans. We don’t have any frame of reference for the games. We’ve never seen a movie that focuses on the gaelic games. We can’t watch them on TV. There’s never been a video game based on them — well never one that was released in the states.

These sports are just totally off our radar on a national cultural level.

So it was interesting to see the video where minor Irish celebrity Chris O’Dowd, a featured actor in movies such as “Bridesmaids,” “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Thor: The Dark World,” talk about his views on gaelic football.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gr6LRCRM6Dk

And as you saw, O’Dowd isn’t just a fan. O’Dowd actually played gaelic football as a goal keeper. Representing County Roscommon, he played throughout his “high school years” and eventually in the post-school Under-21 divisions. While he was in the Under-21 division, he manned the goal for Roscommon in the 1997 Connacht Minor final against County Mayo.

So, we have Chris O’Dowd on our side. That’s good. But who else?

Are there other Irish actors and musicians that are fans of the gaelic games? Let me know.

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Straight from Ireland — The best hurling of 2013

It’s the end of the year, and since you can’t find too many hurling clips of American squads in action, we’ll turn to the bonafide experts of the game over in Ireland.

First up, we’ll start with this video from the GAA as it highlights the best goals of 2013. http://youtu.be/IXO7L8u-3gY

Next we can look at the 10 greatest hurling moments according to the broadcasters of the Sunday Game. http://youtu.be/ajeagHCk15g (Warning, this is a bit of a long video thanks to the great intro.)

If you don’t mind some gaelic football mixed in with your hurling clips, then check out 2013′s best tackles in the GAA. http://youtu.be/RBiDK5NHsIo

But hold on a minute … we do have a few American clips to show you!

Eamonn Gormley, who brought us the fantastic 1-million-plus viewed “Fastest Game on Grass” video, hit the fields in Cleveland, the host of the 2013 North American County Board finals and brought us two great videos.

First up, we have the camogie champs. http://youtu.be/QyyJsSxMqnE

Then take a look at this compilation of moments from the NACB finals weekend.
We especially enjoyed the lengthy interview with GAA president Liam O’Neill. http://youtu.be/OjqIcuG80is

And of course, why not relive the All-Ireland hurling final. The championship was settled in a replay match between County Clare and County Cork. Their first attempt to determine the year’s champions ended in a draw, so they had to play it again a few weeks later. This is the entire un-edited game. http://youtu.be/Rv9FGy9MqOY

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Hurling squads must keep their websites active

Keep your hurling team's website active by posting something -- anything -- new at least once a month. Once a week would be even better. (And yes, Hurley to Rise needs to do the same!)

Keep your hurling team’s website active by posting something — anything — new at least once a month. Once a week would be even better. (And yes, Hurley to Rise needs to do the same!)


Baltimoregaa.com

Visit the Baltimore GAA website at www.baltimoregaa.com or “Like” them on Facebook.

For the last few weeks, the Baltimore Gaelic Athletic Association has adopted a unique way to get the word out on hurling.

Over at the GAA website, the team has been posting player profiles. On week 1, visitors got to meet Mike Assad. Week 2 introduced Mei-Lin Fegan

The Q&A format lets the spotlighted player have a bit of fun too, thanks to questions such as “Best thing to shout at a game?” and “What would your wrestling name be?”

HOW THIS CAN HELP YOUR GAA CLUB

Offerings such as these posts from the Baltimore GAA can help your club too. In particular, they can make your website seem less static. If you post one a week or just one a month, it’s better than leaving a two-month old story as your top article.

In fact, posting anything new once a month is better than having your site sit unaltered for months at a time.

Sure, you still need to have some obligatory information on your site — practice times, invites for new players, game schedules and the “What is hurling?” text — but all of that should be buried under links. You want to give people an opportunity to wander around your site and get to know you.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions on what to post to your team site, and all of these can be done in 10 minutes or less.

  • PLAYER PROFILES.  To gather them up, send out a mass e-mail to your players and tell them to have fun. (Ask them for a picture too!)
  • HURLING VIDEOS. Not your videos, but videos from YouTube. There are quite a lot too. Here’s some ideas on what to look for in your hurling videos.
  • PRACTICE AND MATCH PHOTOS. Post one or two at a time to spread it out over several months.
  • QUICKIE EXPLANATIONS. Tell people what a sliotar is. Explain a rule. Just add something — anything — new.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA. Post snippets, links and teases to your social media locations on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and whatever other services you maintain. Remember, your posts don’t need to be more than a few sentences. Just keep feeding them!
  • FUNDRAISERS. Yes, it would seem obvious that these would be posted in an easy-to-spot location, but often times they are not. Just list the standard requirements: Place, time, date, cost and description.

Again, this helps keep your website looking fresh and lively. You don’t want it to look like you created it in 2003 and then forgot about it ever since.

Likewise, it shows your club is still vital and out in the community.

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A GAA-style option for the Stanley Cup (and the NHL)

My favorite sport, the one I have been interested in the longest, is hockey. I love to watch people play. I love to play it myself (or at least mess around with a stick and puck).

Stanley_Cup_no_backgroundHeck, I even draw a comic about hockey. (Shameless plug!)

So it was with great sadness that I found out that the 2012-13 season was in jeopardy as the National Hockey League’s player’s union and its team owners battled it out over how much the players were played. The talks degenerated quickly and the players have been “locked out” of their paid playing opportunities since early in the fall.  Since then more than half the season has been canceled. The truly exciting “Winter Classic” was canceled.

And fans? They’re angry and frustrated.

Even the NHL Network has pretty much given up. Now it’s broadcasting games from the Canadian Hockey League.

And despite occasional bursts of activity, things look quite dismal for the remainder of the season, the playoffs and the Stanley Cup finals.

But then yesterday a Canadian politician officially offered up a great alternative: Award the Stanley Cup to the top amateur hockey team.

Sounds a lot like the way the Gaelic Athletic Association operates.  Unlike so many other premiere sports leagues around the world, the GAA doesn’t pay its athletes. In fact, it strictly forbids it. Yet every year, it fills massive stadiums in Ireland for its games of hurling and gaelic football. And across the world, more and more teams are springing up for these games every year.

But instead of letting the best players go to the highest bidder — as they do in virtually every other team sport in the world — the players of hurling and gaelic football fight it out on the pitch for community pride. It’s true. Players aren’t allowed to join any club they want, instead they can only play for the team that’s affiliated with their birthplace.

So, if such a policy were enacted for America’s National Football League, then players born in Pennsylvania would only be allowed to play for the Steelers or the Eagles. Even then, there would probably be some sort of imaginary line splitting Pennsylvania in half to designate boundaries on who goes where.

But I digress.

The point here is the Canadian politician offers an excellent option for the Stanley Cup, and there’s even a few good reasons why it should happen:

  • The Stanley Cup was originally meant to awarded to the top amateur team in hockey. Not the professionals, but the guys who had to hold down a day job.
  • The Stanley Cup is not controlled by the NHL. It is governed by independent trustees who can award it at their discretion.
  • Quite frankly, the NHL and the player’s union need to get the message that the sport of hockey can go on without them.

Further, the fans of the sport could be well served by a wake-up call of their own.  Just like the GAA does, the Stanley Cup organization could foster a wave of hometown pride as amateur hockey clubs from across the U.S. and Canada battle it out in a March Madness-style tournament to get their name on the cup.

And the day after these amateur players hoist up the cup? They go back to their jobs and a chorus of “atta boys!”

That’s exactly what happens in the GAA, and it is a spectacular celebration of sportsmanship.

 

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The longest game of hurling

The Cloughbawn GAA in Wexford hosted a 24 hour game over the summer, a feat that landed the game in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Joe.ie, a “man’s stuff” website from the Emerald Isle, posted a story this week about a County Wexford, Ireland, hurling club that went the extra mile.

Well, not the extra mile, but the “extra time” by hosting a game that lasted 24 hours. The guys should be doubly proud of themselves, since they also managed to nab a spot in the upcoming Guinness Book of World Records for their feat of sportsmanship

According to the article, the game included 46 players and ended with a score of 217-324  to 220-286. That all adds up to a match with 975 points scored by the winning team and 946 for the losers.

If you think your goalkeepers are moody, just imagine how awful those goalkeepers felt after a game like that.

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