As I made my way to the ‘footy’ the other day in Galway, I tried refreshing myself with the rules of the Irish game. I remembered that they didn’t have point posts, had a kind of a soccer net, didn’t really tackle… and that’s about it.
That’s all I needed, really. I felt straight at home. I was right, the two matches I saw were part of the county competition, but that was typical as that’s how the competition worked (ie, the local clubs played each other, and then the winners of the counties did battle). I bought myself a cottage pie and settled in to my seat at Pearse Stadium (where the infamous International Rules match was played last year).
Side question – when is it that a ground becomes a stadium? Pearse Stadium, although lovely, wasn’t much bigger than Windy Hill. Anyway…
The first match was a whitewash – the visitors didn’t even look like they’d turned up. I understood most of the rules, and was surprised to see more tackling than I’d thought I would – some quite vicious. There wasn’t a huge crowd, so you could hear the players yelling out – for some reason most of the players seemed to be called ‘Jimmy’.
The second game was more exciting, with the home team winning by a point. The crowd kept me entertained – they were not dissimilar to an AFL crowd with their barracking, and everyone seemed to know each other. Even the players waved when new people came and took their seats. My favourite were the two men in front of me – I think they were father and son. They only had about seven seconds of conversation between them for the whole two and a half hours.
‘Good-lookin’ pitch, innit?’
I’m now in Dublin, and had a marathon day of sightseeing today. Started at the Kilmainham Gaol, where the leaders of the 1916 Uprising were held and executed (and where ‘In the Name of the Father’ and the original ‘Italian Job’ were filmed), then went off to the Guinness Storehouse and drank hopefully the last pint of black stuff for my life, dropped by St Patrick’s Cathedral and then took a peek at Dublin Castle. Can’t get more diverse than that, now can you?
I’m going to miss Ireland. They have Double Deckers and Irn-Bru (my new fave choc and soft drink), people are genuinely friendly, the weather is lovely (for now) and everyone puts the apostrophe in my last name without me telling them. They even know to capitalise the ‘D’. Heaven.