Sunday 29 July 2007


I'm pleased to say that they serve Fairtrade coffee at Croke Park.

I'm also pleased to say that I visited Croke Park today for the first time.

And now I'll be pleased to tell you about it.

A few weeks ago, while the rest of my family were in the States, I spent a few days at a monastery - Glenstal Abbey. While I was there I got to know another guest visiting who is a priest serving on the north side of Dublin. In our conversations I told J. that one day I'd like to go to see a hurling match at Croker.

I got a call from J. this week to say he had tickets for today's game and invited me along.

It was great. A fantastic atmosphere that only a large sporting event can give. Over 70,000 fans shouting, screaming, heckling and clapping. I haven't been to a sports event like this since watching the Cleveland Indians more than five years ago.

The game of hurling is great. It's a sport native to Ireland with its roots in Irish mythology/history. I guess I would describe it as a much more fast paced and exciting version of field hockey - only the ball is sent flying through the air and you can catch it with your hands before whacking it tremendous distances (80+ meters) between the goal posts (which are a cross between soccer goals and rugby posts.)

It's a very fast paced game where if you blink you can miss something vital. Within three seconds the action can shift from one end of the field to the other. Don't step out for coffee because by the time you're back several points have been scored.

J. said he would try to get tickets for the All Ireland final in a few weeks. Here's a video clip from the final two years ago. Brilliant.

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