Referee tutor (and club founder) John Watson recently held a day-long workshop for club members interested in becoming certified referees. All six attendees finished the course and passed the exam. Congratulations to Aaron Joley (not pictured), Molly Buckley, Ryan Buckley, Chris Davis, Liam Barry, and Jennifer Barry. As always, special thanks to John Watson for sharing his time and expertise. Thanks also to the GAA for awarding the new referees with kits, certificates, and swag.
And 3 Reasons We Play Anyway
Camogie players are equal parts girl and badass, which sometimes creates unusual issues that no hurler has to deal with. Still, we know that #CamogieProblems are part of the joy of playing, even when we deal with these:
Are we girly or badass today?
Really want to get my nails done but then I can’t hold my Hurley #CamogieProblems ????????????
— Ciara Allen (@CiaraNihAilin) September 16, 2013
Who needs other hobbies, anyway?
— Nicole Clerkin (@NicoleClerkin) April 24, 2014
Formalwear is an absolute #nope
A hurl is like a best friend, and it hurts to lose one
A photo posted by laura ???? (@laurabradyx3) on
If we waited for the rain to stop, we’d never play
I’m beginning to think the bad weather is programming itself around our match days 🙁 #camogieproblems
— Nicola (@nicolasull) April 28, 2013
You have your definition of sexy, and we have ours
— Shannen J (@ShannenJ20) April 14, 2013
Bandages are totally an accessory
Why do we play? Because it’s still the best damn game in the world. Also…
Could be worse! Could be playing in 1916
#Repost @roisindefaoite ・・・ Joined a convent today. Had a puck around with the nuns. ???? Camogie exhibition match to commemorate the 1916 rising. Wearing the traditional outfit that was worn by the women in 1916 #rockies #1916easterrising #1916 #camogie #hurley #sliotar #blackrock #skirt #shirt #gaa #hurling
A photo posted by Play Hurling (@playhurling) on
We’re always there for each other
Even your bruises know you love it
Share with a fellow camog and tweet us your #CamogieProblems @NashvilleGAC.
Here in the States, hurling and camogie still feel like a secret club that only a few are privileged to join. It’s not that we don’t want everyone to learn about and play Gaelic games, it’s just that so many have yet to discover the passion and skill we all feel. That’s why it’s so exciting to scroll through Twitter and see mentions from people who either already love the game or have just discovered it. At times, we see tweets that fill us with pride, while others make us laugh out loud.
We’d like to share a few of our favorites. Enjoy!
— Mountrath CS (@mountrathcs) February 11, 2016
Obviously these guys know what they’re up against.
Watching this Irish Hurling on sky sports confirms my belief that the Irish are mental.
— SJTaylor (@samthedogtaylor) June 7, 2014
The Irish and a fair few Americans, am I right?
Watching the hurling on sky. How feckin mad do you have to be a keeper in this game!!!??
— David Rice (@Caerwynt_Loops) June 7, 2014
Mad enough to risk an exploded testicle. So, even madder than you think.
English guy in pub who’s watched the hurling on Sky Sports; “mad sport, it’s a bit Game of Thrones, Innit?” #GAA
— Joe O’Shea (@josefoshea) June 14, 2014
Perhaps, but deadlier.
— ExamRevision (@examrevision4u) February 9, 2016
America’s looks a bit more like Connect-the-Dots.
— Aaron Kernan (@AaronKernan) February 8, 2016
— Brian (@meanyno1) February 7, 2016
That’s what we’ve been saying all along! #latetotheparty
— Sarah Ní Riain (@froodie) January 28, 2016
45 Shades of Grey #GAAromancenovels
— Damien G (@damog7) January 28, 2016
The Refs Notebook #GAAromancenovels
— Daragh Mulligan (@dazmanOnline) January 28, 2016
— CianHa (@CianHa) January 28, 2016
Do it. The world needs a hurling romance novel.
When we’re not busy writing romance novels, we tweet, too. You can follow us @NashvilleGAC.
Why do we play sports, really? Sure, talk all day about fitness and teamwork and all that stuff. We all know the truth: we play for glory. When you play a game that not many people know about, glory is in short supply. That’s simply because the ones you’re bragging to about playing hurling and camogie don’t know just how freakin’ hard it is.
You have to tell them. You have to make them see that you’re putting your life on the line even when playing a quick stick toss with friends. Knowing how to make the most of every brag is the only way to get the glory in the shortest amount of time. Start at the easiest and work your way up.
More Miles Run Each Match
While there’s no actual data for hurling, someone did add up how much Gaelic football players run during a match. Apparently, women run almost 6 miles per GAA match, and men average just over 7 miles. That’s not taking into account the fact that the sliotar tends to travel farther than the football during play, which would probably require a bit more running for both women and men. Compare that to the usual “tough guy/girl” sport of rugby and you’re set for bragging.
Of course, without a solid stat, your bragging is open to interpretation. Just remember to point out that the interpretation skews in your favor no matter how you look at it.
No Pads Required
Look, the essence of hurling is that everyone gets a stick, and they swing that stick hard enough to send a ball flying at speeds of nearly 100 miles per hour. One would think that protective gear would be a must. Instead, hurlers just wear helmets. And most hurlers didn’t wear a helmet until they became a requirement in 2010. And even then, some hurlers quit the game because wearing a helmet was a sissy thing to do.
Don’t want to look like a sissy? Brag that you don’t have to wear protective gear. Show off those bruises, which you will definitely have earned.
Immense Skill Necessary
Among the many skills you had to learn to play hurling and camogie, the solo was probably the one that filled you with the greatest amount of pride. When bragging about your sporting abilities, opening with the solo is not a bad place to start. What other sport requires you to balance a ball on the end of a stick while running as fast as you possibly can?
That’s right, baby. Brag away.
Your first broken stick is something to memorialize. That blessed pile of toothpicks means you were in there, fighting it out with all your might. You went up against other players of immense skill, and the power on the field was just so much that neither hurley could handle it. Sure, sticks are expensive, but for that first one, you’re just gonna want to mount it on your wall as a reminder of the day you became a MONSTER.
Unheard of Injuries
Sure, you might get a run-of-the-mill ACL injury here and there, but for the most part, hurling and camogie injuries are in a class all their own. If you want to impress whomever you’re talking to at the bar, roll up those sleeves and unzip those boots to show off bruises in places you never knew existed. And if that doesn’t do the trick, just show them these.
And if you really want to get the point across, if you really want to make sure everyone around you knows you’re playing the greatest game in the world:
If your fact-finding mission about hurling includes watching a match, breathless and eyes bugged out while you try to absorb everything going on, then it’ll be a long while before you learn everything you need to know. There are a few things that everyone who’s ever played the game hold true in their hearts—things no fact-finding mission could ever erase.
- Once you play hurling, no other sport will suffice.
- Sure, it looks dangerous. What’s the point of playing a sport that can’t get you killed?
- You’ll be made fun of for wearing protective gear other than the required helmet.
- A pint after training, matches, or a general puck around is required. REQUIRED.
Ask anyone who plays; they’ll back us up. And while this might convince you to give hurling (or camogie) a shot—and thank God, because that’s what this blog is all about—it still doesn’t give you the hard facts.
1. Hurling is about 3,000 years old.
Let’s consider the things that were going on in the world during the first years that hurling was played. The Iron Age. Ancient Greece. The Roman Empire. The Persian Empire after that. It’s even older than the recorded history of Ireland. If you’re looking for a sport that will impress your friends, you’ve found it.
2. A hurling pitch in Ireland can be as big as 158 yards by 98 yards.
Yeah, the pitch is huge, but that much flat, open space is hard to find here in the States, so we usually use American football or soccer fields. We also play with fewer people on teams. If we played with Ireland’s usual 15 a side, then there wouldn’t be enough room to run on the smaller fields here. In larger cities, such as Chicago and New York, the Irish populations are big enough to warrant full-sized fields and teams. For the most part, however, you’d get started on something much smaller here.
3. Protective gear really is sparse.
Imagine a sport this brutal played without any protective gear at all. That’s what happened for three thousand years. Before 2010, the hurley (stick) was the only protection a player could count on. Now, helmets are required. And, while you might get a little ribbing from your teammates for investing in additional protective gear, it’s never a bad idea to protect other parts of your body as well. (You may or may not want to click the link. Among other sports-related injuries, you’ll also be regaled with a tale about a shattered testicle.) Really. Wear the gear.
4. Even the best hurlers in Ireland play for free.
In this sport, glory is all you get. There isn’t a single professional hurler or camogie player in the world. These hurlers draw crowds in the tens of thousands, risk life and limb, and bring home enormous trophies to their home counties, all because they love the game that much.
Now, be honest with yourself. Wouldn’t you love to play a sport that inspires that kind of dedication? Wouldn’t you love to hit the pitch with your teammates and lose yourself in a sport that’s been three millennia in the making? Wouldn’t you love to finish off a day of Irish culture and sport with a cold beer and banter with your local hurling club?
You can. And if you reach out now, you WILL. If you’d prefer to check it all out before you join, that’s cool. Visit our Facebook page to see what we’re up to all the time. Come out and watch a puck around and get an introduction to the people, the equipment, and the game.
And remember, if you’re reading this but don’t live in Nashville, it’s not over yet. Google hurling in your city. There’s probably a club nearby. If there’s not, maybe it’s about time someone started one.
Maybe you’ve already heard of hurling and camogie because of a silly Buzzfeed article (where they tried to tell you that some sport called Yağlı Güreş is older because it’s been around since 1357, but we all know that hurling is at least 2,000 years old. At least! So there.) Maybe you know someone who plays with a league in your city, and he never shuts up about it (and maybe his name is Corbett Ouellette, but I’m not pointing any fingers here). Maybe you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about but you’re an athlete who craves something…more…much more than the sports you’ve been playing can offer. Well, you’re in luck. Hurling and camogie are the games you need in your life, and here’s why.
1. It’s for hockey players who hate the ice.
2. It’s for tennis players who want a bigger court.
3. It’s for baseball players who just want to tackle someone already.
4. It’s for football players who don’t want to wear pads.
5. It’s for soccer players who want to use their hands.
6. It’s for girls who know they can hang with the guys.
Does any of this sound like you? Then you’re in luck. Nashville Gaelic Athletic Club welcomes new members ALL THE TIME. Doesn’t matter if it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall. We’ll be starting spring league soon, and you’ll want to know the basics before you join a team, right? Reach out and let us know you’re interested. You can like our Facebook page for updates on Nashville hurling. Ask to join our Facebook group if you want to know when our next training session will be. Someone is always available to teach you the basics. You don’t need equipment to get started. You don’t even need to have played a sport before. We’ll have sticks and helmets for beginners. Cleats and athletic clothes are a good idea, and of course, bring plenty of water when you come out.
If you’re intrigued but don’t live in Nashville, Google hurling in your city. You might be surprised to learn there’s a club there with players who can’t wait to meet you.
Each week during league play, Jameson Hurley presents the world with a dramatic retelling of the Nashville GAC hurling matches. We thought it was about time everyone met this illustrious writer…well, writer and editor. In addition to serious smarts, these guys are pretty dang cute.
What was your first thought when you saw hurling? Ball!
When did you first decide you were hooked? On my first touch
Do you play any other sports? I chase squirrels, play tug, and I wrestle.
What’s your day job? I am a journalist and I am the Chaplain of the Nashville Gaelic Athletic Club
What do you want to be when you grow up? A proctologist
What are your top five favorite movies or books? Ulysses, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Police Academy I, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Bambi (but mostly because of Thumper). I also like cat videos on YouTube.
Do you follow any of the Irish county teams? Cork
What’s your best memory? Breakfast
What’s your favorite band? Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
What’s your biggest goal? Someday I am going to find out who’s a good boy.
Who’s your best friend? Anji Wall
What’s something people may not know about you? Probably the biggest thing that people don’t know about me is that one time, probably 2 or three years ago, I was going to—SQUIRREL!
Nickname: The Hurls
Number: 3, like my dad.
What was your first thought when you saw hurling? Do I need opposable thumbs to play?
When did you first decide you were hooked? When John gave me belly rubs.
Do you play any other sports? I’m a fair keeper at football.
What’s your day job? Guarding the house from thieves, kids, little old ladies, the postman, falling leaves, and the wind.
What do you want to be when you grow up? A good boy.
What are your top five favorite movies or books? Snatch. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The Mask. Lassie. Benji. Cujo.
Do you follow any of the Irish county teams? Cork
What’s your best memory? When Conor McGregor won the interim belt.
What’s your favorite band? Anything classic rock. Oh, and Coldplay.
What’s your biggest goal? To evict the cat from my dog bed.
Who’s your best friend? Liam Barry
What’s something people may not know about you? I can spell L-E-A-S-H.
On September 12, we had the great pleasure of attending the Middle Tennessee Highland Games and Celtic Festival. Of course, it was an absolute blast. We got to play two friendly matches and meet hundreds of potential NGAC members. If you were one of those new friends, maybe you’ll see yourself here!
We’d love to see everyone again. If you’d like to learn more about hurling, come visit us at Centennial Park this Thursday, September 17, next to the Parthenon. We’ll have a special introductory session for all new players at 6 pm. Even if you can’t get there right at 6, come on out anyway. We go for a social drink around 7 at the Beer Pale after.
Jameson Hurley Reporting
July 12, 2015
Does it get any better than this? What began back in March, with the captains gathered drafting their teams, culminated in the Nashville city spring league championship on Sunday. The Ports, who looked unbeatable most of the season, were set to face the Blue Notes, another solid side who found the yellow and blue side’s Achilles heel just two weeks prior, upsetting the Ports and robbing them of an undefeated season. Coming into the day, it was anyone’s guess who would walk away with the Harper Iron Hurley when all was said and done.
One thing was for sure: Mother Nature would test the men and women as much as they would test each other. Hot and humid air hung over the pitch, with game time temperatures nearing 100 degrees Fahrenheit with a heat index of 110. As the sun beat down, captains Brendan Rauer (Ports) and Mike Conway (Blue Notes) readied their sides. There would be no time for opening ceremonies or speeches as the referee called the captains in for the start of the match. The teams took to the pitch, the whistle blew, and the match was on.
Three quick passages of play resulted in wides for both sides, but the play was crisp and skillful. It was the Blue Notes who found the first point of the day, capitalizing on a great opportunity that started on their defensive end when Caleb Harper beat Johnny Watson to the ball and cleared it long into his half forward line. The Ports, however, did not delay in striking back when the always-reliable Jamie Norris sent a point in from midfield. Points would be the story for the majority of the half as both team’s goalies, recognized as strong men in their position, were rarely put to the test.
Both teams relied on nearly the whole cavalry for scoring responsibilities. Players moved around the pitch, skillfully executing well-placed passes and on-target shots. Mike Conway, Chris Davis, Aaron Joley, Grant Schlisner, and Caleb Harper all got in on the scoring action for the Blue Notes while Jamie Norris, Johnny Watson, Grant Gill, Britti Himmelfarb, and Niamh Cunnane all found the target for the Ports. Halftime score: Ports 3-9 (18) to Blue Notes 1-7 (10).
Coming into the second half with the comfort of an 8-point lead, the Ports wasted no time in trying to pull further away from their opponents. A quick point off the throw in, followed closely by a second, put the Ports up by 10 within the first minute. However, captain Mike Conway, in a bold decision, pulled his brick-wall keeper, Ryan Buckley, out of goal and put him at full forward. The decision proved tactically sound as Buckley was able to use his size and strength to win balls and put powerful shots on the mark. A point and a goal for Buckley put the Ports on their heels and gave the Blue Notes the confidence they needed to fight hard and go for a win. Near the middle of the half, an aggressive foul in the Blue Notes’ keeper’s area resulted in a penalty that went for another goal, and when the teams paused for a heat-mandated water break, the Notes had pulled within 3 points of the Ports.
Play resumed and, with 15 minutes to go and the teams nearly level, both sides could see that victory was within their reach. Another goal from the Blue Notes evened the score, and a point shortly after gave them the lead. The Notes seemed to have found a secret weapon in Grant Schlisner who used his height to win high balls, turn, and score at will. Chris Davis and Mike Conway worked hard in the midfield, sending balls in deep to set up scoring opportunities, while Caleb Harper and Molly Buckley held the line defensively. It looked like it would be a repeat of the match two weeks prior, when the Blue Notes were able to hold a slight lead over the Ports to claim the match. But the Ports had ideas of their own. Captain Brendan Rauer and Ashley Tabolinsky did well in their defensive roles to win balls and send them into the midfielders Grant Gill and Jamie Norris who found points or teammates often enough to keep the match close.
The heat was certainly taking its toll as the match wore on, but the players dug deep, contesting 50/50 balls, and fighting hard to get shots off. Back and forth it went, and the players dug deeper still. With minutes to go, the Ports, who had not once found the back of the keeper’s net in the second half, scored a stunner of a goal, giving them a slight advantage. Both sides managed to find just a bit more in the tanks and muscle over another point each, but at the referee’s final whistle, it was that late goal that decided the match. Final score: Ports 4-20 (32) to Blue Notes 4-17 (29).
Club Chairman, Johnny Watson, lauded the efforts of both teams and commended them on a great display of hurling. And while it could have been either team’s day at the start, in the end was the Ports who hoisted the coveted Harper Iron Hurley. In the spirit of “One Club” and camaraderie, the entire club retired to Dan McGuinness to tell tall tales o’ hurling achievements and to celebrate the true victors, all of the men and women who work hard, play hard, and keep the sports of hurling and camogie alive and well in Middle Tennessee.
Created by Jurys Inn in Dublin, this infographic compares Gaelic games to some with which you might be more familiar:
Infographic by Jurys Inn Hotels
Want to see hurling in action? Join us Sunday at noon at McFerrin Park at the corner of Meridian and Grace Streets. We’ll have equipment. Just wear comfy athletic clothes and shoes!