Gaelic Football and Hurling Championships at the Irish Cultural Center
The Boston-Northeast Gaelic Football and Hurling championships get underway at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton on May 20.
By Rory O'Donnell
PRO, Boston Northeast, GAA
Games of Gaelic (Irish) Football and Hurling are played every Sunday afternoon from May 20 until the last weekend in August when the season reaches its climax with the finals.
Hurling is the fastest field game on the planet and for those unfamiliar with the game, it could be thought of as a blend of field hockey and lacrosse. Players use a stick with a rounded end, and the ball resembles a baseball. The ball may be struck on the ground or in the air with the stick and players score a point by putting the ball over the crossbar, and a goal for putting it underneath the bar.
A goal is worth three points.
The game has roots that are thousands of years old and is referred to in the Irish myth and lore.
Gaelic football is played on the same field, 160 by 80 yards, and the players pass a round ball that resembles a heavy volleyball with the foot or the hand. The rules for scoring are the same for football as in hurling. The ingredients for both games are that they are fast, exciting, physical, and there is a lot of scoring.
There are 15 adult Gaelic Football clubs in the Greater Boston area in both men’s and ladies' football, and eight hurling clubs. The clubs compete throughout the summer months for the prize of the Boston-Northeast Gaelic Football and Hurling Championship titles, the finals of which take place the last weekend of August. The winners earn the right to represent the region in the North American Finals, which will take place in Philadelphia on Labor Day weekend. There is also a fast growing youth program with coaching and teams for boys and girls from U-6 to U-18 at the ICC, and more than a dozen underage clubs throughout the New England region.
You can check out live action at Irish Cultural Center off Route 128 in Canton. Games are of a high caliber and there is a high level of skill and athleticism on display. Admission is $10 for the day, free admission for children under 16 years. There are at least five full games played on a Sunday beginning at noon. Concessions are available and there is a playground for the kids.
For a schedule of games and more information on the Boston GAA, check out www.bostongaa.org. For more information on the rules of Gaelic Football and Hurling check out www.gaa.ie. There are also plenty of videos on You Tube that describe the rules of both games. Search with “Gaelic Football – The Original Beautiful Game” or Hurling - The Fastest Game on Grass,” for a couple of great videos that describe the basics of both games. For directions to the Irish Cultural Center check www.irishculture.org. See you there!