Hurling, a description of sorts

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Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  bald eagle on Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:09 pm

HURLING, A DESCRIPTION OF SORTS

So we arrive at the game, nothing new to the Yank camped beside me, he's been at plenty of sporting occasions before. This is though, the calm before the storm, the pitch is empty and the questions have not yet begun. I start with some preliminary information, 'it's the fastest field sport in the world'. He looks at me quizzically, 'faster than hockey?' 'Yes', I reply, 'if you mean hockey on grass, no if you mean hockey in ice, hence why I used the phrase, field sport'.

The teams run out onto the field, the Yank is intrigued with the 'sticks' that they are carrying. 'They're called hurleys or hurls, depending on which part if the country you are from'. 'You gotta be kidding me', he laughs as the ref throws the ball in and the four midfielders pull for all their worth. 'So how is a good hurler made', he questions after watching the action for a few minutes. 'Whoooahh', I say, 'Mafia bosses are made, hurlers are born'. His lack of understanding of this beautiful game is starting to get irritating, it's now that I feel like saying, 'go home yank, tis our field', but I don't.

'Are there any rules in this mad game?' he questions as two players break hurls off of each other but neither flinches. 'Too many', I reply. 'That guy in black is in charge, yes?'. 'Sometimes', I say rather quickly. 'This game is mental and out of control', the yank blurts out as hands and hurls go up together to pull the ball out of the sky. 'It's far from mad and nowhere near out of control', I reason, 'the skill level required is unbelievable, that and a fitness to match is what wins games'. 'These guys must get danger money, I mean as well as their wages', he suggests. 'Ah well, they don't actually get paid at all', I tell him bluntly. 'They play for the honour or representing their club and county, the team that wins out the All Ireland, that's what the championship is called, they get an All Ireland medal each'. He takes a few moments to digest this, 'so they don't get paid and they play for just a medal?' 'Thats about the size of it yeah', I reply, finding it difficult to even believe what I'm saying myself. 'You guys are mad', he summed up. 'Mad, maybe?  but you won't find a game like it anywhere in the world', I said contently.

Hurling, a spectacle, when played right cannot be equalled by any sport in the world. Ok so I didn't really attend a match with a yank but just felt it would be fun to try and explain the game and the mentality of the players that entertain us year after year. It's difficult to explain to a hurling virgin how and why the players do what they do. What I do know, is that we should appreciate them more. The game is full of skill, it requires serious commitment just to partake. To compete at the highest level requires more than just skill, it has to become your life. The game of hurling is in need of a lift but it's a game we should hold dear and cherish. It needs to be watered and cared for, nurtured till it can be accepted and competed for by every county in the country. Viva la hurling.

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This blog is posted with the kind permission of Fergal Cantwell and was originally published 10/07/2013.

You can read more of Fergals blogs here - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] and you can follow him on Twitter by following @fergalcantwell link - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  bocerty on Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:16 pm

very good BE

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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  RMDrive on Thu Jul 11, 2013 2:40 pm

The hurling fraternity are great at telling themselves how good they are.
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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  bald eagle on Thu Jul 11, 2013 4:39 pm

Why would they say anything else RMD?

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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  North Side Gael on Fri Jul 12, 2013 4:36 pm

RMDrive wrote:The hurling fraternity are great at telling themselves how good they are.

be honest like hurling is class to watch against football in recent years, i like a good game of football but hard to come by until quarter final stages normally, hence the need for tiers.
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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  Thomas Clarke on Fri Jul 12, 2013 4:48 pm

North Side Gael wrote:
RMDrive wrote:The hurling fraternity are great at telling themselves how good they are.

be honest like hurling is class to watch against football in recent years...

As indicated by the attendances and popularity of the two?
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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  North Side Gael on Fri Jul 12, 2013 5:50 pm

Thomas Clarke wrote:
North Side Gael wrote:
RMDrive wrote:The hurling fraternity are great at telling themselves how good they are.

be honest like hurling is class to watch against football in recent years...

As indicated by the attendances and popularity of the two?

Are you guys serious? go to any man who follows both sports equally and ask them which is the more exciting.

The gaa let hurling down year in year out with coverage, marketing and promotion, if they promoted it they could sell it a lot quicker internationally, than football which has turned into a cross between rugby league and aussie rules!
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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  Thomas Clarke on Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:15 pm

North Side Gael wrote:
Thomas Clarke wrote:
North Side Gael wrote:
RMDrive wrote:The hurling fraternity are great at telling themselves how good they are.

be honest like hurling is class to watch against football in recent years...

As indicated by the attendances and popularity of the two?

Are you guys serious? go to any man who follows both sports equally and ask them which is the more exciting.

The gaa let hurling down year in year out with coverage, marketing and promotion, if they promoted it they could sell it a lot quicker internationally, than football which has turned into a cross between rugby league and aussie rules!

Maybe they don't promote it because relatively fewer people are interested in watching it? Bit of a chicken and egg thing here, admittedly.
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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  North Side Gael on Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:17 pm

Thomas Clarke wrote:
North Side Gael wrote:
Thomas Clarke wrote:
North Side Gael wrote:
RMDrive wrote:The hurling fraternity are great at telling themselves how good they are.

be honest like hurling is class to watch against football in recent years...

As indicated by the attendances and popularity of the two?

Are you guys serious? go to any man who follows both sports equally and ask them which is the more exciting.

The gaa let hurling down year in year out with coverage, marketing and promotion, if they promoted it they could sell it a lot quicker internationally, than football which has turned into a cross between rugby league and aussie rules!

Maybe they don't promote it because relatively fewer people are interested in watching it?  Bit of a chicken and egg thing here, admittedly.

Maybe there is less playing/participating due to lack of marketing, will never know until its promoted properly, ie dublin, look at growth in fans and participation.
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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  Thomas Clarke on Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:37 pm

North Side Gael wrote:
Maybe there is less playing/participating due to lack of marketing, will never know until its promoted properly, ie dublin, look at growth in fans and participation.

Dublin are an anomaly due to the size of population.

Hurling gets far too much coverage as it is, eating into air time when most people would prefer to watch football.  Outside of Kilkenny, Waterford and Clare, are there any counties that prefer hurling to football?

I've nothing against the game, but it is so boring to watch the same 2-3 teams compete year after year.  Cork, Wexford and Galway are becoming football counties, while Offaly will do the same.  Tipp's underage football success will see them move that way too.  Wax lyrical all you like about it, but hurling will soon be confined to the realms of mythology the way it is going. Only a radical overhaul will save it.
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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  bald eagle on Fri Jul 12, 2013 7:02 pm

Anyway, i enjoyed this piece a lot, reminded me of trying to describe hurling to some aussie workmates when i was in Perth, they weren't getting it at all so i invited them to our next game. Needless to say they loved it and wanted to try it out.

I have no doubt in my mind that if half the effort & money went into hurling development that goes into football then it would be huge. In Britain they have spent over €600,000 in the last 5 years on development officers with all Brit counties (7) being represented at the football feile, London with 2 teams yet the same development officers could only get 1 hurling team to the hurling feile last weekend. Hurling gets developmental lip service.

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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  bocerty on Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:58 am

bald eagle wrote:Anyway, i enjoyed this piece a lot, reminded me of trying to describe hurling to some aussie workmates when i was in Perth, they weren't getting it at all so i invited them to our next game. Needless to say they loved it and wanted to try it out.

I have no doubt in my mind that if half the effort & money went into hurling development that goes into football then it would be huge. In Britain they have spent over €600,000 in the last 5 years on development officers with all Brit counties (7) being represented at the football feile, London with 2 teams yet the same development officers could only get 1 hurling team to the hurling feile last weekend. Hurling gets developmental lip service.

totally agree BE and it goes on here too, in fact the Hurling Development Officer in Tyrone is better known as the Hurling Prevention Officer...............

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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  bald eagle on Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:15 pm

bocerty wrote:
bald eagle wrote:Anyway, i enjoyed this piece a lot, reminded me of trying to describe hurling to some aussie workmates when i was in Perth, they weren't getting it at all so i invited them to our next game. Needless to say they loved it and wanted to try it out.

I have no doubt in my mind that if half the effort & money went into hurling development that goes into football then it would be huge. In Britain they have spent over €600,000 in the last 5 years on development officers with all Brit counties (7) being represented at the football feile, London with 2 teams yet the same development officers could only get 1 hurling team to the hurling feile last weekend. Hurling gets developmental lip service.

totally agree BE and it goes on here too, in fact the Hurling Development Officer in Tyrone is better known as the Hurling Prevention Officer...............

Bad news regarding the Under 21 hurlers of Tyrone last week, had to pull out of Ulster champo due to lack of numbers!

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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  Boxtyeater on Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:58 pm

Thomas Clarke wrote:
Hurling gets far too much coverage as it is, eating into air time when most people would prefer to watch football.  Outside of Kilkenny, Waterford and Clare, are there any counties that prefer hurling to football?

I've nothing against the game, but it is so boring to watch the same 2-3 teams compete year after year. Wax lyrical all you like about it, but hurling will soon be confined to the realms of mythology the way it is going. Only a radical overhaul will save it.

I disagree whole-heartledly. From a non-hurling county, I'll admit to enjoying it immensly. The skill factor is inherently higher when played properly, a case in point being the ability to "rise it"..all to often we see footballers fumbling and foostering (losing valuable time in the process) as they attempt the lift.

This year alone leaves us with 6 realistic contenders and there have been some cracking contests. I'd never tire of Kilkenny, their hunger, skill levels and indominatable team spirit has elevated them to the pantheon of great teams, up there with Kerry footballers of the 70/80's, Brazil, Barcelona and Aughawillian 84/96.

The Kilkenny C/B Chairman, The Well-Fed Ned, won't torment himself about the football exploits of Railyard if Cody's troops bring Liam back again in Sept. Should the Banner triumph (unlikely) the Sixmilebridge
leprechaun that is Davy has the makings of TV Gold. Passionate and not afraid to show it...

The playing field is levelling here, carry on.
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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  Thomas Clarke on Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:19 pm

Boxty, the skills on display are beyond question, however you never tiring of watching the game is irrelevant.  What is relevant/critical is that your grandchildren will never play it to any degree of seriousness.  

I've said many times on here, and firmly believe it, that the competition among sports for our top young athletes has never been more fierce, and in 27-28 counties hurling is losing that battle.  (That most of those counties are in the south-west of the country makes it even tougher).  Soccer, gaelic football, rugby and others are becoming the sports of choice for potential young hurlers, and the reason is that, unless you are from one of 5-6 counties, you are never going to win anything of any importance.  

Young lads in Tyrone, Mayo, Kildare or Donegal are not dreaming of lining out for their county in front of 500 people in the Christy Ring cup.  They are dreaming about being a hero in front of tens of thousands, be that in a football, rugby, soccer arena or whatever.  Yes, they will tinker with hurling, and find it great craic, but the best lads won't commit to it, as they will want more.

Hurling does not give them the chance to dream of being the best, and a game played at the top level by 5-6 teams can't survive in modern Ireland.  I stand by my original and long-held opinion - unless it completely overhauls its structures, hurling will fade away as a mainstream Irish sport.
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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  Boxtyeater on Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:59 pm

Yerra! (I'm warming to this Yerra) cast your mind back 50/60 years to when the laurels were shared between Tipp/Cork/Kilkenny/ and a few Limerick glory days.

50/60 years on we've had a resurgence, briefly, from Clare, Galway have had days in the sun, Offaly had a few tidy harvests, Wexford set the heather blazing, I sat with my present pleasant wife in the spills of rain as Limerick triumphed in 1973 and met and bantered with folk who knew their hurling and hurlers. Football has seen a bigger spread of winners (possibly) but the foundations for further development haven't been properly laid on the basis of these victories.

Hurling will live on forever in the aforementioned counties. Offaly, from a terribly small base, set the template, an hurling-pool marginally smaller than Galway's I might add.

Hurling will never make strides in North Galway, West Clare, West Cork, Ballinamore nor Dungannon nor anywhere else that percieve themselves as "football people". That's what we are, traditionalists...

All this bollockxology about review boards, commissions and study groups is all cock. Leave lads do/play what suits them, suck it up and look after them. County Boards/Supporters clubs have only so much cash to work with, re-inventing the wheel isn't an option.
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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  Thomas Clarke on Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:13 pm

Boxtyeater wrote: re-inventing the wheel isn't an option.
Why isn't it? Why can't the game itself be prioritised instead of the Munster championship? We've seen Galway/Antrim play in Leinster; we've seen countless club sides merge with neighbours over the years. Why can't we think about levelling the playing field across the country, so young lads will have a chance of playing a game at which they can be the best.

The trouble with saying that it won't make strides in North Galway, West Cork etc, is that if a few of the traditional hurling areas start to fall, then you lose critical mass. What if football continues to grow in East Cork or South Tipp, something that is very possible? We've already seen Wexford increasingly become a football county, and most of Cork's dual stars are throwing their lot in with the footballers.

Hurling has to aspire to being more than just a niche sport in a few isolated pockets of the country. Nowadays, young lads have just too many other options.
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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  Boxtyeater on Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:50 pm

The traditional hurling areas, over 100 odd years, have survived, dwindled possibly, as the television era crept in, but have roared back stronger than ever, as the myth of soccerball, rogbee and athletics have been exposed as fraudelent.

In every one of these areas, the club has thrown up a genuine "local hero", a lad you or your father knows, an approachable sort, untainted by media, or stories of wife-beating or substance abuse. These guys, whether in football or hurling strongholds, have proven themselves, in the true ethos of the GAA, to be
"stand up guys". These are the lads youngsters look up to, hope to replicate and listen to.

If they're in hurling territory then so be it. Their aura, will however, remain un-tarnished. These lads, the likes of Seamus Quinn or Nicholas English, will be forever revered within parish and county. The fact that they come from percieved different angles of the GAA won't matter in Gortletteragh or Lattin/Cullen.
These are "One of your own"....A man who dined at the top table, drank the nectar and survived.

A great year for hurling, the coffers are bursting, the hope for "a review" are receding. Unless KK win it.
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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  bald eagle on Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:37 pm

You have to ask why those sports are becoming the first choice TC? It's down to lip service development of hurling in counties that football is the main sport, 10,000 people pack into the O2 Arena to watch DARTS! Why, because Sky give it a fanfair and a bit of pomp, not because it is one of the greatest sports in the world! Again i say, if hurling had half the effort & finances regarding development than football had it would be massive! Hey, Tyrone may even have fielded last week or challenge at a higher level than they do!

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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  bocerty on Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:11 am

Boxtyeater wrote:
Thomas Clarke wrote:
Hurling gets far too much coverage as it is, eating into air time when most people would prefer to watch football.  Outside of Kilkenny, Waterford and Clare, are there any counties that prefer hurling to football?

I've nothing against the game, but it is so boring to watch the same 2-3 teams compete year after year. Wax lyrical all you like about it, but hurling will soon be confined to the realms of mythology the way it is going. Only a radical overhaul will save it.

I disagree whole-heartledly. From a non-hurling county, I'll admit to enjoying it immensly. The skill factor is inherently higher when played properly, a case in point being the ability to "rise it"..all to often we see footballers fumbling and foostering (losing valuable time in the process) as they attempt the lift.

This year alone leaves us with 6 realistic contenders and there have been some cracking contests. I'd never tire of Kilkenny, their hunger, skill levels and indominatable team spirit has elevated them to the pantheon of great teams, up there with Kerry footballers of the 70/80's, Brazil, Barcelona and Aughawillian 84/96.

The Kilkenny C/B Chairman, The Well-Fed Ned, won't torment himself about the football exploits of Railyard if Cody's troops bring Liam back again in Sept. Should the Banner triumph (unlikely) the Sixmilebridge
leprechaun that is Davy has the makings of TV Gold. Passionate and not afraid to show it...

The playing field is levelling here, carry on.

totally agree Boxty - played a fair bit of hurling in my time and i would sit and watch it quicker that most football games and i know from the chat of many of my mates that they feel the same. The skill levels commitment etc are great to watch.

I'll give you an example of the disdain with which Hurling is treated in Tyrone. At a recent CB meeting our Chairman who would know as much about hurling as i know about American football/cricket approached the topic of hurling and the costs involved of running the various hurling teams in the county. He advised that the costs were much too high and that it took over £100k the previous year to cover the teams and that savings were needed. At this juncture a representative from one of the clubs advised that in the previous year it had cost in excess of £140k to feed (yes feed) the various football teams after training and matches. The question was put to the chairman what savings were going to be made there needless to say the chairman soon shut his mouth and changed the subject.

Another example, a few guys in my own club which was once a proud hurling club - are fighting the battle to keep hurling alive. They recently asked for new sticks for U8 lads they were coaching, the afore mentioned Hurling Prevention Officer (who is a club member) arrived at a training session with a dozen or so 36" hurls for the lads. When asked what use those sticks were to U8 lads he bowed his head and walked off without answering. Yet if you were listen to this same gobshite at CB meetings you would think he was doing a great job.

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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  Thomas Clarke on Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:44 am

bocerty wrote:[
totally agree Boxty - played a fair bit of hurling in my time and i would sit and watch it quicker that most football games and i know from the chat of many of my mates that they feel the same.  The skill levels commitment etc are great to watch.

I'll give you an example of the disdain with which Hurling is treated in Tyrone.  At a recent CB meeting our Chairman who would know as much about hurling as i know about American football/cricket approached the topic of hurling and the costs involved of running the various hurling teams in the county.  He advised that the costs were much too high and that it took over £100k the previous year to cover the teams and that savings were needed.  At this juncture a representative from one of the clubs advised that in the previous year it had cost in excess of £140k to feed (yes feed) the various football teams after training and matches.  The question was put to the chairman what savings were going to be made there needless to say the chairman soon shut his mouth and changed the subject.

Another example, a few guys in my own club which was once a proud hurling club - are fighting the battle to keep hurling alive.  They recently asked for new sticks for U8 lads they were coaching, the afore mentioned Hurling Prevention Officer (who is a club member) arrived at a training session with a dozen or so 36" hurls for the lads.  When asked what use those sticks were to U8 lads he bowed his head and walked off without answering.  Yet if you were listen to this same gobshite at CB meetings you would think he was doing a great job.

To be fair, Boc, if you look at the numbers playing both codes in Tyrone, then the football team should get the vast majority of the money.  I think that some in the hurling community feel that just because they work hard at developing the game, they have a sense of entitlement.  Well, hard work doesn't entitle anyone to anything.

All I'm hearing on this thread is how great a game hurling is and how skilful it is, but I'm yet to hear anyone come up with a plan for how to dramatically increase the popularity of the game in non-hurling areas.  

I think that hurling is a great sport (no better than several others, but a great sport all the same), but I'm also a realist.  Hurling is played/coached in schools in Tyrone, but it isn't going to catch on because there is nowhere for lads to aim for.

I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about.  My town, Dungannon, is becoming a gaelic football wasteland, yet 20 years ago it was the top underage club in Tyrone, and one of the top senior clubs.  We are losing young lads to various sports, but largely soccer.  Soccer was never a big problem before the peace process, but now the soccer clubs in the area are seen as acceptable alternatives for young catholics.

There is one in particular called Dungannon Youth United, and it is run by former Dungannon Swifts manager Joe McAree.  Joe is a motivator.  A salesman.  20 years ago he was in the papers saying that if Peter Canavan played soccer he would have been worth £5m.  Now he will tell an earnest young 12 year old that he has a right foot on him like David Beckham, and that if he works hard at it he might one day be a star in England.  

Young lads love this, and their parents love it.  It is all bullshit, of course, but it makes them feel great and they want to go back to play soccer.  Hurling, with its lure of a Christy Ring final in front of 500 people just can't compete with this, nor with the appeals of football or rugby either.    

So, you can put all the hurleys in schools that you like, and have all the coaches, but in Tyrone the best athletes will  most seriously play soccer, gaelic football or rugby, hence the Tyrone hurling team will always be made up of lesser athletes and be uncompetitive.  Until someone gives the top lads something to play for, this will always be the case.


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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  Thomas Clarke on Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:50 am

bald eagle wrote:You have to ask why those sports are becoming the first choice TC?  It's down to lip service development of hurling in counties that football is the main sport, 10,000 people pack into the O2 Arena to watch DARTS! Why, because Sky give it a fanfair and a bit of pomp, not because it is one of the greatest sports in the world! Again i say, if hurling had half the effort & finances regarding development than football had it would be massive! Hey, Tyrone may even have fielded last week or challenge at a higher level than they do!

As you say, darts is brilliantly marketed, but it wasn't always that way. You also remember the 500 people in Jollees or the Circus Tavern. Darts people were willing to change.

But look at how the change came about. It was nothing to do with putting darts coaches in schools or investing at grassroots! It was about making something exciting and glamourous - something to be at. Tyrone hurlers have nothing to get excited about, certainly not a drubbing by Roscommon in front of 300 people.
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Re: Hurling, a description of sorts

Post  bald eagle on Fri Jul 19, 2013 8:31 pm

Look now at how the fanfare & pomp has affected darts development though, now we have some unreal players coming through from countries that would never produce darts players normally, jesus the old BDO Worlds were England, a few Welsh, a couple of Jocks and a token from another country, now look at the PDC worlds, the come from everywhere!

The GAA have 2 great products in gaelic football & hurling but they aren't interested in promoting either worldwide, except to rip off exiles like myself (thank God for streaming sites)!

I regularly show people over here hurling to explain what it is, these people only live a few hundred miles from Dublin and they don't know what hurling is yet when they see it they love it, one lad even took himself off to Dublin for his stag in 2010 and they all went to a Dublin NHL match!

Both games have massive worldwide development potiental yet the GAA give only lip service. Where i live the nearesr hurling team is well over 100 miles away but i am certain that with a £3,000 budget i could have at least 70 boys & girls playing hurling & camogie or Gaelic football. £1,000 spent on marketing & advertising could hit 20,000 homes, £1,000 on gear (hurls, balls etc.) with the other £1,000 for ground rent and other expendibles. ****, i could even fix old split hurls if i had to! That would be £3,000 well spent as i know it would be massive in the area where i am, but the local GDA won't even entertain it due to there being no existing adult GAA club in the area!

The AFL put the GAA to shame when it comes to developing their game, there are countless regional leagues in the UK and they have gotten over problems with numbers & pitch sizes by having 9-a side leagues played on Rugby pitches, making their games fit into their surrounds. They may be professional but the AFL & GAA have a lot in common, the GAA could do a lot worse than actually properly developing all its codes internationally, possibly having a club tournament every 2 years for non-irish players across all of its codes be that at 7, 9, 11, 13 or 15-a side. They won't of course because in all honesty there are only a handful of people at HQ who really give a toss about the GAA overseas.


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bald eagle
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