The Gaelic Athletic Association brings Irish community-driven sports to Notre Dame // The Observer
Welcoming both seasoned players and newcomers, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) brings a piece of Irish culture to campus through the sports of Irish hurling and football.
The club started with a small group of Irish students in 2018 and has since grown to around 30 regular members, mostly Americans.
The GAA de Notre Dame held its first tournament on Saturday. The mixed team left the field victorious, beating Purdue University, the University of Pittsburgh and other rivals. GAA Senior President Maureen Kenny said she was proud of the team for competing at a high level and winning the tournament.
“It’s a fairly comprehensive contact sport. Everyone comes out of this Saturday completely bruised, ”Kenny said, pointing to a bruise near his elbow. “It was a great day for us though. We have won all of our matches.
Notre Dame’s Irish roots run deeper than the college mascot, and Kenny, who grew up in Ireland, said these sports are an integral part of Irish culture.
“It’s not just any sport we play. It’s a cultural gem, ”she said. “He’s something special, and he has a special place in ND, especially as the Fighting Irish.”
Followed by hurling, Kenny said Irish football is Ireland’s most popular sport, one that retains the flavor of the local community.
“The beauty of GAA is that it isn’t played professionally,” Kenny said. “People really play for the love of the sport. You play for your county. You play for your city. It’s a real hometown feel.
Kenny remembers playing at Croke Park National Stadium in his school championships and seeing his grandfather represent his hometown playing at that same stadium.
“This is probably when I reached my peak playing honestly, I have never improved since,” Kenny said of the appearance of the Irish football team from his. primary school.
She said these aspects of Irish sports complement Notre Dame’s focus on community and provide a relaxed introduction to Irish culture.
Members of the club, including sophomore Grace Kane who had never played hurling or Irish football before joining GAA, testified before the community.
“GAA is an escape from all my other classes,” Kane said. “It’s a way for me to have fun and meet new people who want to do something so unique. “
The club also brings together a unique mix of Irish football, hurling fanatics and curious opportunists.
“A few of our players are from Ireland,” Kane said. “There are also people who have nothing to do with it, and who just saw him at the club fair and said to themselves, ‘Does that sound cool? Where else can I do this? ‘ which seems to be a common theme.
Kenny said she strives to accommodate members of all skill levels and sports familiarity.
“There are some who have been playing these sports since they were young,” Kenney said. “The howl is a bit like their third member; they are fabulous for that. There are also a few less experienced on the team. “Everyone feels really encouraged. We obviously love to win and take the sport seriously, but we also love its community. “
In order to welcome new players at any time of the semester, Kenny strives to review the basics of hurling and Irish football twice a week during GAA practice.
She calls hurling “the fastest sport on grass,” describing it as a combination of lacrosse, field hockey and rugby. Each player has a “howl” which they use to hit the “sliotar”, a hard ball shaped like a baseball.
Irish football is more like a hybrid of basketball, rugby and football, Kenny said. Every four steps, players must pass the volleyball-type ball to another team or bounce it solo.
In both sports, players can score a point by hitting the sliotar or throwing the ball over and through the opposing team’s H-shaped goal, or they can score three points by scoring a goal under the cross-bar.
“My big goal for the end of the year before I leave is to get jerseys, proper gear for our team,” Kenny said. “How we look like as a team isn’t the most important thing, but I think it would really allow us to hold our part and establish ourselves as a force to be reckoned with. “
Kane, the GAA Clothing Commissioner, agrees and is working to get these uniforms, or “kits” from Ireland.
“I was really intrigued when we played against Purdue,” Kane said. “They came with these very intense uniforms. They were all ready. We don’t even have jerseys or anything, but we are the Irish school, we are Notre Dame.