I’ve always liked the Irish. Little about them is dull. They respect things like beer, music, and sports where there’s a potential for injury. And well I had to correct a few of them in their claim that Hurling is the fastest sport in the world (of course, it’s ice hockey), I can’t refute that it’s a brilliant sport. In fact, as I watched my first live match of hurling, in a dungeon-like Irish bar in Cork, I kept wondering to myself why this sport isn’t more popular.
Hurling almost seems like a mix of a half dozen sports. But essentially, it’s lacrosse played with a battle axe and no padding, with goals that are both nets and uprights. Scoring happens at the pace of a basketball game, and the momentum can swing just as quickly too.
The skill of hurlers can’t be properly conveyed by a silly-witted Canadian like myself. It really is incredible. And the drinking skills of the crowds in Ireland watch the matches too should never be challenged.
My night in Cork started at the hurling match against Clare County and quickly evolved into a typical night on the town just about anywhere in Ireland. It started with a small pub, with a sign labelled “no cell phones” clearly standing watch over the tables. There was a piano in the corner, and a grumpy old man behind the bar. And from there it’s all a bit murky. You see, when you drink with the Irish, it’s not that you drink to forget, it’s just that you don’t remember.
My tale of the night ends outside the tiny pub, searching my smartphone for messages, then discovering I lost the bar, and then finding McDonald’s. The heavy rains must have cleared my foggy mind, because I clearly remember walking home with a big mac in each hand, a chicken sandwich tucked under my arm, and my camera slung over my shoulder.
In reality, we visited several establishments after tiny said pub, and I woke up 12 hours later cuddling a chicken burger, and carrying a weight in my belly that can’t entirely be blamed on the booze, but also the Big Macs.
But you see, well the title might be misleading, I never did hurl the night I watched Irish hurling, I’m just a sucker for a good title. I do, however, assure you that hurling is a beautiful sport, and the Irish, they can drink.
Wanna see a bit of hurling? Watch this video: