Monday, July 11, 2011 in blue

I went to my first Gaelic football game yesterday. It’s like soccer on craic (pun intended.) The field is similar to a rugby pitch with what looks like a soccer goal with football goal posts on top at either end. It’s worth 3 points to get the ball in the goal, and 1 point in the goal posts. Players can only run with the ball in their hand for four steps and then they must kick, throw, or bounce it off their own foot. I was actually at the stadium, Croke Park, the week before for a hurling match because they are played on the same field. Croke Park, like everything else in Dublin has an incredible history. The sad shootings of Bloody Sunday took place there, but it is also a symbol of Irish pride and unity. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was established to unite the different counties in Ireland by competing in traditional Gaelic sports. At the beginning of the game, everyone sang the Irish National Anthem in Gaelic. While the rivalries between the different counties are strong, there is an overarching theme of Irish pride in their culture and country. Yesterday, the match was between Dublin and Wexford and so I obviously had to support Dublin. The Irish are very loyal to their home teams and take a lot of pride in cheering for them. Not surprisingly, there was an overwhelming amount of Dublin fans, but among the sea of light blue Dublin jerseys there were also a few purple and yellow Wexford fans. We happened to be sitting among a lot of Wexford fans and, like most other places, we stuck out like a sore thumb. Never having seen Gaelic football before in my life, we were a bit confused at the beginning and we accidently cheered for Wexford a few times while waving our blue Dublin flags, but Gaelic football is pretty simple and we caught on quickly. It was a really close game and the fans were wild, the atmosphere reminded me of going to football games back home. The Dublin fans, otherwise known as The Dubs, were rowdy and I talked to a few students afterwards who assured me that the next game I go to I need to sit in the hill, which is the standing stadium for the “true fans.” My night ended at a sports pub, arm in arm with other fans singing along to Come On You Boys In Blue, which is like their spirit song. The entire pub was singing, with the exception of a few bitter Wexford fans, and I felt truly Irish and connected to the community.
In front of Croke Park

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