With Penn State and UCF game, Ireland’s hurling takes center stage

Penn State tight end Kyle Carter hits a ball with a hurling stick as players take part in traditional Irish sports, Gaelic football and hurling, following practice at University College Dublin on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Dublin. (AP Photo/PennLive.com, Joe Hermitt)

Penn State tight end Kyle Carter hits a ball with a hurling stick as players take part in traditional Irish sports, Gaelic football and hurling, following practice at University College Dublin on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Dublin. (AP Photo/PennLive.com, Joe Hermitt)

It’s kind of thrilling to see the Penn State football players with hurleys in hand as they try out the traditional Irish sport of hurling.

If you’ve never heard of the game, you’re in for a real treat. It’s a crazy-fast sport full of action and, to American eyes, it looks remarkably dangerous. There are heavy wooden sticks swatting at hands and feet in an effort to get a baseball-sized ball into two scoring stations on each end of the pitch.

Hurling is played on an absolutely huge field — as much as 100 yards wide and 160 yards long — which means Penn State and the Central Florida will have plenty of room to stretch out for their big game in Dublin’s Croke Park.

To score in hurling, a team has two options. Option one is to smack the ball past the goalkeeper, who’s manning a net that’s wider than a typical soccer goal. The other option is to hit the ball above the crossbar. Blasting the ball, called a sliotar in gaelic, past the goalie earns three points. The easier shot above the crossbar is worth 1 point.

The squad required to play the game is huge too. You need 15 players on each side to fill out the monster-sized pitch.
Why so many players? Why on a field so big? That’s because a solid hit on the ball can send it more than 80 yards across the field. With that kind of range, you need lots of space.

Want to know more about hurling, then check out this short video on the basic rules of the game.

http://youtu.be/TmzivRetelE

HERE IN AMERICA

If you have an interest in hurling after seeing Croke Park during Saturday’s game or after seeing the American footballers trying their hand at it, then check around your nearest big city because there’s a good chance there are people playing hurling or gaelic football in your own back yard.

While it’s hard to believe, the sport is gaining major traction here in the U.S. Massive clubs are in Milawaukee and the New York City areas. Beyond them, even smaller cities are seeing teams popping up. You can even do a spot check for your state in Hurley to Rise’s listing page at http://www.ydtalk.com/hurley/u-s-hurling-clubs/

Once you find them, don’t be shy. Contact them and ask if you can stop by and learn more about the sports. You’ll be glad you did.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

Hurley to Rise has worked over the last few years to try to provide some real instructional posts on how to play the game and describe it in terms familiar to Americans. In that time, I’ve managed to discuss a wide variety of topics about the game.

Here are some starting points:

Penn State linebacker Mike Hull, third from left, grabs a hurling stick as players take part in traditional Irish sports, Gaelic football and hurling, following football practice at University College Dublin on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Dublin. (AP Photo/PennLive.com, Joe Hermitt)

Penn State linebacker Mike Hull, third from left, grabs a hurling stick as players take part in traditional Irish sports, Gaelic football and hurling, following football practice at University College Dublin on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Dublin. (AP Photo/PennLive.com, Joe Hermitt)

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The hurlers kept going without me

While I’ve been mostly skipping hurling for this year, and prospects seem slim for any real hurling action in the immediate future, my enthusiasm for the sport hasn’t dimmed.

It’s still a great game to watch, as you can see in the above clip.

Even though I’ve been sitting on my kiester, the world of hurling has continued to move forward. Just the other day, I got a request to add a new team to my list of U.S. clubs. Welcome aboard, Richmond! (And if your club isn’t on the list, let me know!)

LABOR DAY WEEKEND: Check out the Gaelic Athletic Association matches coming up in Boston.

LABOR DAY WEEKEND: Check out the Gaelic Athletic Association matches coming up in Boston.

Likewise, the North American clubs are getting ready for the yearly championships. This time, GAA players from across the continent are traveling to Boston, where they will be playing at the Irish Cultural Center over Labor Day weekend. The event, organized by Boston and the North American GAA, promises to be be bigger and better than before.

Over in Ireland, county clubs are working their way through the All Ireland, the championship series of hurling. The semifinals featured Kilkenny vs Limerick and Cork vs Tipperary in the last week or so, with powerhouses Kilkenny and Tipperary making it to the Sept. 7 final.

WORLD COVERAGE: See what's happening with GAA teams from around the globe in Gaelic Sports World

WORLD COVERAGE: See what’s happening with GAA teams from around the globe in Gaelic Sports World

Beyond the game itself, the real story in Ireland is that Sky Sports, the British broadcaster is offering coverage of many Gaelic Athletic matches. That means that some Irish viewers haven’t been able to see broadcasts of their key games. At the same time, the games are being broadcast in the greater UK as well, resulting in some mixed reviews from British sports fans who are more accustomed to their own brand of football, rather than gaelic football and hurling.

Also since I’ve last written, a new digital magazine has launched. Gaelic Sports World, helmed by Gaelic Sportscast’s Denis O’Brien, is a publication dedicated to gaelic sports from across the globe. (You can even see my name in the magazine as a writer.) Check out the latest issue here.

Meanwhile, America is getting ready to invade Ireland with its own game of football. The Croke Park Classic, set for Aug. 30, will feature American college football teams in the historic Irish stadium. The match will pit Penn State against the University of Central Florida in a very unique setting that’s sure to pique many Americans’ interest in the gaelic games. Check out this post for a detailed look at the game announcement and a gaelic sports primer for Americans.

So, like I said, it’s been a remarkably busy time, even without me taking time to blog about it.

Penn-State-Logo

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A few St. Patrick’s Day parade photos from U.S. hurling clubs

It’s St. Patrick’s Day and Gaelic Athletic Associations around America are out in full force. Here are some pictures from some of the clubs’ appearances in various parades over the weekend. Do you have some pictures from your events this weekend? Send them to john@johnsimcoe.com

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Learn more about the Hampton Roads Hurling Club of Virginia at www.facebook.com/HamptonRoadsHurlingClub

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Learn more about the Fox River Hurling Club of Wisconsin at www.foxriverhurlingclub.com/

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Learn more about the Naperville Hurling Club of Illinois at www.naperhurling.com/

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Learn more about the Tacoma Rangers of Oregon at tacomarangers.wix.com/tacoma-rangers

Learn More about the Roc City Hurling Club of Rochester, NY, at www.facebook.com/roccityhurling.

Learn more about the Roc City Hurling Club of Rochester, NY, at www.facebook.com/roccityhurling.

Learn more about the Allentown Hibernians of Pennsylvania at www.pahurling.com.

Learn more about the Allentown Hibernians of Pennsylvania at www.pahurling.com.

LOUISVILLE

Meanwhile the recently founded Louisville Gaelic Athletic Club was featured on WLKY.

Check out the interview and discussion here: http://www.wlky.com/news/Louisville-group-recognizes-Irish-traditions-year-round/25004460

Learn more about gaelic football in the Louisville, Ky., area by visiting louisvillegaa.com

Learn more about gaelic football in the Louisville, Ky., area by visiting louisvillegaa.com

SALEM, OREGON

The Statesman Journal offered up an introductory article on the great sport of hurling. Check it out here: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/article/20140316/NEWS/303160054/For-some-hurling-whole-new-ball-game

In any article like this, it’s important to tell people when and where the club meets, info this article offers in its first paragraph. Doing so helps bring out those with casual interest or allows Irish ex-pats to catch up to the local club.

YOUR CLUB?

Has your club been featured, past or present, in the local media? Send me a link to john@johnsimcoe.com.

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America loves the gaelic games — especially when it’s St. Patrick’s Day

It’s March, and that means a slew of articles and news stories are popping up that offer mainstream America a glimpse at hurling and gaelic football.

NEW JERSEY: Students at Kean University can learn more about hurling thanks to a new club that's started at the school.

NEW JERSEY: Students at Kean University can learn more about hurling thanks to a new club that’s started at the school.

As one might expect, the various U.S. clubs are happy to oblige with such interview requests. They need all the publicity they can get, and St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect opportunity to talk to America about getting connected to their Irish roots.

Here at Hurley to Rise, I want hear about all these interviews. Send me links to articles, video clips and even radio interviews.

Why send them to me? Well, the more exposure your club gets, the more people will find you.

Just mail your links and information to john@johnsimcoe.com

KEAN UNIVERSITY

One new club is located at Kean University in Union, N.J., and the university’s online newspaper featured the club in a helpful article that will help the club recruit new members.

It was especially great that Dave Lewis, the club founder, explained the GAA is more than a sporting league. ““The GAA [Gaelic Athletic Association] community is so supportive of one another and they want the sport to grow and get bigger and make sure people have a very genuine cultural experience.”

Find the Kean Hurling Club on Facebook.

NEW ZEALAND

Hurling is drawing interest in other English-speaking countries too. Across the globe in Christchurch, New Zealand, there’s a surge in play as Irish ex-pats arrive in the country. Read all about it this article from The Press.

Find the Christchurch GAA on Facebook  or at the McKennas website.

YOUR CLUB?

Again, has your club been featured, past or present, in the local media? Send me a link to john@johnsimcoe.com.

Let’s get people talking about the gaelic games.

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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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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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