Play hurling in Akron

The annual Al O’Leary Hurling tournament is set for Saturday, Oct. 20, in the Akron, Ohio, area.

Visit the Akron hurling club at http://www.akronhurling.com/

According to the announcement from Akron Celtic Guards Hurling Club, teams from Indianapolis, Purdue University and Pittsburgh will be attending the event at Akron Indoor Soccer (73 West Rosewood Avenue, Akron, Ohio 44301).

The tournament will also host an opportunity to pick up hurling supplies from P. O’Kane Hurls.

Is your club planning a hurling event? Send me the information at john@johnsimcoe.com, and I’ll post it here at Hurley To Rise at no charge to you. Posting here may help you pull in additional teams and even some new players!

After your event, send me photos and a report, for a follow up post! Event reports can further help you draw in additional talent to your club.

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Vendor area in need of an upgrade at NACB finals

FOR SALE: The American Hurling Co. was the only gaelic sports vendor at the NACB tournament in Philadelphia on Friday.

For me, probably the biggest disappointment of the 2012 North American County Board finals is that there were virtually no vendors at the tournament on Friday. Set in Philadelphia’s massive Pennypack Park, there was certainly room for more.

Let’s do a rundown of what was available:

  • COUNTY BOARD: The NACB set up a tent and sold some of their own NACB-branded gear brought in from Ireland by the O’Neills company. Hats, polo shirts, fleeces and sweat shirts were available.
  • GAELIC SUPPLIES: There was a small stand for the American Hurling Co., which sells a variety of gaelic sports-related items. Most notably, they sell the hurleys, and the company has actually supplied a large percentage of American hurling and camogie players.
  • FOOD: Beyond those two vendors there was one beverage seller (water, soda, power drinks and alcohol) and two food stands.

Since the park was relatively isolated from any nearby stores it was difficult for teams to get extra supplies to the field.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions as the NACB begins to work on their plans for the coming years.

  • MORE GAELIC EQUIPMENT – Get another vendor or two for gaelic equipment. Not that we don’t like American Hurling Co. or anything (I own three of their hurls!), but variety is wonderful.
  • MORE SPORTS EQUIPMENT – Recruit a  sports store — it can be a chain like Dick’s or a local shop — to bring in a variety of sports supplies. I’m not talking baseball bats and football helmets — I mean things like sports tape, hand towels, Under Armor shirts, socks, knee pads and gloves. They also might be wise to bring in a little “home team” merchandise — in this case Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles and Flyers gear — to bring in a little more revenue.
  • WI-FI ACCESS – Internet access was nonexistent unless you had an Internet-ready cellphone or a satellite card in your laptop. The NACB itself couldn’t get on the Internet most of the day on Friday. The board needs to make sure access is available to all so teams can update their websites, Facebook accounts and Twitter feeds. Having solid Wi-Fi access will also help your vendors — and many won’t even show up without that guaranteed to them.
  • BETTER FOOD – Yes, everyone comes to Philadelphia for a cheese steak, but remember the people coming to the national finals are all athletes. They aren’t going to be eager to gulp down trays full of grease. Instead, recruit some food vendors who sell fresh fruits, salads and smoothies. Meat and beer are also needed, of course, but you need to cater to the athletes.
  • CULTURAL VENDORS – I’ve been to enough Irish festivals to know that there are plenty of vendors who specialize in Irish merchandise. Get a hold of one of those and bring them in. People love to show off their heritage in the North American GAA — what county their grandparents are from and so on — and a cultural vendor might do good at the NACB finals. Since this is kind of iffy, I’d suggest you give the vendor free space the first year and then sell a spot in the following years.
  • CLUB SALES – This is the most important point of them all! …  Somehow figure out a way to allow clubs to sell their own merchandise to players from other teams and fans in general. There were a lot of really great hurling, football and camogie T-shirts on people’s backs at the Friday games and I wish I could have bought a few. The NACB should set up some sort of  “club” vendor tent where the member clubs can sell some of their own creations (t-shirts, jerseys, bags and even some used equipment). Maybe install a big tent and give every participating club a table inside to sell their merchandise. Aside from getting excess stock out of their hands, the clubs could also use their sales as fundraisers.

Of course, all or some of these ideas might have been explored in previous years, but I can only address what I saw this year. Regardless, there’s plenty of time to try to improve for next year’s effort in Cleveland.

NACB: The North American County Board had a small selection of O’Neills apparel at the tournament.

 

 

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Set your sights on Montreal

OH, CANADA: Set your hurling gear packed for a trip to a hurling tournament in Montreal in September.

The Montreal Shamrocks Gaelic Athletic Club is planning a hurling tournament Sept. 15 geared toward Junior level clubs.

The event costs $50 per team and is hosted at the Montreal Irish Rugby club field.

The 9-a-side games will accept rolling substitutions and have 20 minute halves.

Register your team, or teams if you have 20 or more players, by contacting the club at montrealshamrocksgaa @gmail.com.

If you do go, and you’re coming from the U.S., don’t forget that you will need a passport or another form of accepted ID to go into Canada.

Is your club planning a hurling event? Send me the information at john@johnsimcoe.com, and I’ll post it here at Hurley To Rise.

After your event, send me photos and a report, for a follow up post!

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Reflections on a day in Allentown

Two days later and my hamstrings are still pretty shaky from my game time at the recent round-robin hurling tournament in South Whitehall Township, Pa.

The Saturday, May 5, Gaelic Athletic Association event was hosted by the the Allentown Hibernians Hurling Club, and also featured teams from Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Md. Hoboken, N.J., and Washington, D.C.

The Hoboken squad, the Guards, won the tournament, and my squad, the Baltimore Bohemians, came in third.

Here's the score-sheet from the May 5 games in Allentown. Scores in hurling are listed with two numbers per team. The first number is the number of goals scored, the second is the number of over-the-crossbar points the teams notched. Each over-the-crossbar shot earns one point to the final score. Each goal is worth three points.

THE SETTING

Just like last year, the tournament took place in the shadow of Dorney Park at a glen off of Haines Mill Road. Although there was only one Port-a-Potty for the 100-or-so players, everything else was great. The field itself was the best I’ve played on so far, with springy short grass and regulation-sized goals.

In the world of American hurling, both of those are quite a rarity. Most of the time we’re playing on the “left-over” or forgotten fields not used by anyone else. As for goals, sometimes we use way-too small lacrosse goals. Other times, we get soccer goals that have nets meant to stop soccer balls, not baseball-sized sliotars. And more than once, we’ve just been defending a slightly modified American football goal.

But Allentown? They made us feel appreciated and even bought lunch for players from every team. And every team that showed up got a 12-pack of sliotars, the super-expensive and easy-to-lose specialty balls used in the game.

Along with their great hospitality, the Hibernians welcomed the good people of Handcraft Hurleys, who brought in a nice selection of merchandise for hurling players. There were hurling gloves, hurleys of all sizes, boxes of sliotars and a big pile of helmets up for grabs.

Since nearly all the hurling equipment in America came via mail-order from Ireland, Handcraft’s set up offered a  nice opportunity to be able to check out some merchandise before purchase and not have to pay shipping costs to boot.

IN THE GAMES

Since I’m not one of my squad’s premier players, I didn’t see a ton of playing time with the Baltimore team. I managed a few minutes here and there, usually at the end of the games.

For this I am not at all ashamed. I’m an old guy (a crippling 39!) and I’m awfully slow. I’m a fill-in and I’m OK with that that role.

But the trip wasn’t a waste of time for me at all. Since Baltimore had an excess of players, those of us who weren’t going to get much time playing with Baltimore, were offered up to teams that were short of players for the 13-per-side games.

That’s how I got to play for the D.C. Gaels for two games, and where I saw most of my action for the day. In those games I was playing full forward right up next to the opposing team’s goal.

I ran my heart out, swatted at opposing players, dug for the ball and generally had a good, if not tiring, time while wearing the white and blue. But did I score? Nope, not yet. That miracle is still eluding me.

D.C. STRIKES BACK

My longest stint on the field for the Baltimore team is also what hurt us the most. In the weeks prior to the tournament, I had been lightly training for a shot as the goalkeeper, and by the time we were up against D.C. in our final game of the day, I got the call.

And I was dreadful.

I might have been in goal for a total of 10 minutes, and in that time, I let three goals trickle past me. In hurling, getting three goals is gigantic. It’s supposed to be tough, and I guess I didn’t make it tough enough. After that third goal against me, I was pulled from the position, a ruling I agreed with 100 percent.

(I’ll talk more about my goal-tending experience in a later post, because it was a learning experience.)

Luckily for me, the Bohemians rallied for a tie after I put us in the hole. I appreciate that, guys. I was a failure, but you came up big to pull us out of a loss.

The Pittsburgh team had a five-hour drive to the Allentown tournament. They placed fourth in the event.

THE PITTSBURGH GAME

The most amusing point of the day for the Bohemians was when we realized that we were about to play the Pittsburgh team, and their jersey colors were the exact same as ours. Both squads adopted a yellow and black color scheme (Baltimore’s mirrors the Maryland flag and Pittsburgh’s copies the city’s pro-sports team colors).

After some negotiations, we borrowed Allentown’s alternate solid green jerseys and hit the field. Still there weren’t enough jerseys to go around, so some of us had to wear our own shirts. I, for example, had brought two shirts from home — a blue polyester athletic shirt and, luckily, a green t-shirt to wear on the way home. I quickly dawned it and was a proud representative of Team Pitfall! and the Bohemians.

After the game, most of the Bohs said it was a tough adjustment. They kept said they kept thinking about passing to the yellow-and-black squad, instead of the green team.

WHAT’S THE SCORE?

One recurring theme in every game I watched and in every game I played is that no one ever knew for sure what the score was.

If you were on the field, on the sidelines or just watching as a spectator, you were completely unaware of the exact point count since there weren’t any billboards posting the score. Sure, we kind of knew who was winning, but you were never sure by how much.

Instead, we just kept playing and hoping for the best.

But next time, someone needs to bring out a big and highly visible whiteboard to keep us up-to-the-minute. It will be great help to keep up the fighting spirit for those trying to come out of a deficit.

NEWS ACCOUNTS

The tournament brought out at least two news media organizations. The Easton Times Express has coverage here.

A TV station, whom I couldn’t identify and can’t seem to locate a report from, was also filming for some time. (Anyone know who that was?)

Advance coverage came from the South Whitehall Patch, which can be seen here.

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May tournament in Cleveland

After the St. Pat’s GFC April kick-off party, the club will host a multi-state tournament at Victory Park.

May is a great time to bring hurling to the masses. No matter how much they drank on St. Patrick’s Day, they’re bound to be sober a month later. More importantly, it’s finally  getting warm enough in the Northern U.S. to get out and play some hurling.

Cleveland’s St. Pat’s Football Club will be doing just that on Saturday, May 19 when it hosts its second annual St. Pat’s Sevens Tournament. The event, at Victory Park in North Ridgeville, Ohio, will be played on four fields simultaneously and include gaelic football, ladies gaelic football and hurling.

Teams from New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana and Ontario are currently scheduled to appear.

For more information, contact the St. Pat’s Gaelic Football Club.

If you’re interested in the club, don’t miss their Shamrocks & Rookies night on April 13.

Is your club planning a hurling event? Send me the information at john@johnsimcoe.com, and I’ll post it here at Hurley To Rise.

After your event, send me photos and a report, for a follow up post!

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