The two main games of the GAA (gahhhhh) are
"Football" and "Hurling", the chief difference being that in
football, the fights are unarmed. There is
also "camogie," which is like hurling, except that in Camogie fights the hair may be pulled as well.
Here we deal with hurling
Lesson #1: "What the feck is Hurling?"
Hurling is an ancient game from the Ice Age, but it didn't get official
recognition until approximately 1889 or thereabouts. As Liam Griffin, the
former Wexford hurling manager and amateur poet, once described it: "Hurling is the Riverdance of sport."
NB: This doesn't mean that it involves loads of tapdancing by poncy blokes
in black mini-skirts (or girls either). Hurling is actually a venerable
outdoor activity, a traditional game of immense skill in which people of all
ages beat the crap out of each other with quite big sticks. It also involves
a ball (called a "Sliotar"), two goalposts (shaped like a "H", or a "h" if
they need repairing), and a very muddy field named after a dodgy bishop.
The ball is about the same size as a tennis ball, only much heavier if you
get whacked with one. If you get the ball over the bar but between the posts
(as if they extended infinitely into the air), you get one point.
When you do this, you get a damn big cheer and people slap you on the back and say "Fair play". If you get it under the H, you get a goal. This is
worth three points. So you get three times as much cheers. More about
cheering techniques in lesson six or seven.
There are 15 players in each team, until several of them are sent off. The
players' sticks are called "hurleys" (after which Elizabeth Hurley's family
gets its name). These sticks have a broad bit at one end called the bas
(boss). The rest is called "the rest". Incidentally, one of Ireland's former
Taoisagh (but not Jack Lynch) was also known as The Bas, and also sometimes called The Crook.
Lesson #2: Now, where were was I? Oh yeah "GETTING A STICK"
A hurling stick or "hurley" is essential for every hurling fan. They are
available at your local sports shop, usually next to the Liverpool and
Chelsea shirts, for a very modest sum. But if you're from abroad you can
easily make one yourself. All it takes are the following readily available
items: * 1 large ash tree * 1 axe/saw * 1 plane * 2-3 other tools * 1 good
carpenter (or "chippy")
Well done! Now that you have a hurley, it's time to pick your team. This is
normally not required, because you are simply stuck with the
parish/town/county you were born in. You are also stuck with a geansai
(jumper or jersey) of a particular colour and shape. But for our many overseas readers this may not be an option. So you will have to
plump for either Wexford or Killkenny - because these are good hurling
counties but brutal at football (let's keep it simple) - or Cork if the
worst comes to the worst.
Lesson #3: "Going to your first match"
For this you will need the following equipment:
# A decent coat
# 1 umbrella
# Several wire coat hangers
# 4 washing up liquid bottles
# An assortment of beer-mats
# 1 roll of Sellotape
# 1 pair of wellies
# 1 cap
# A good bit of cash (at least £30-£40*)
(* It is often necessary to bring more money than this of course, e.g. you
might have to survive for a week in a strange town if you are up for a big
match such as a provincial final, or if you go on something called an "Almighty All Ireland Bender".)
On arrival at the ground, make a rough assessment of the players' ages. If
they look like they're under 18, you're at a "Minors" match. Any older and
you're probably at a "Seniors". Unless, that is, they are Under 21s. To
complicate things, though, some players could be playing both Senior and
Under 21. Then again, others simply give up playing. And sometimes they are actually picked for an important game and though they are on the pitch they aren't actually playing. Seasoned match-goers often refer to this condition by its old Irish terms (either "Arafeck yalayzee bollicsya" or "Getuptha fieldya cunchya").
For the first few matches, keep as quiet as possible: listen to the other
fans nearby, and if asked a question, answer as briefly as possible and
never smile. It is always better to communicate with a quick nod or shrug of
the shoulders rather than actually talking. Remember to clap when everyone else claps or jumps in the air.
Then in the pub afterwards, you might be asked to re-create the finer
moments of the game you have just witnessed. The Fairy liquid bottles make an ideal bottom of the goalposts, and construct the rest of the posts with the coat hangers and sticky-back plastic. Get a sharp Stanley knife (always ask an adult to help you) and cut the beer-mats into the shapes of each member of both teams, in order to create that vivid action replay in full colour.
Lesson #4: "Cheering"
The most important part of hurling is knowing how to cheer. All cheering
phrases begin with a "Grrrr" sound, and almost all end in a "yahh!" sound.
You will also need to lower your voice as far as it will go. Practice this
voice in the bath and on your kids/little sister/pet dog. Remember that even
if your team scores a point or three, your voice must always sound a bit
angry and growly.
Next you have to get the accent right. The accent can be easily picked up at a local pub or Centra/Co-Op supermarket. To cheer properly you will also need one of the following multi-purpose phrases so you can fit in properly.
* Come on ya!
* JAYssis yafeckya!
* Come on now yaboya!
* Clatter dafecker!
* That's the ball yafeckineejitya!
* Take him down!
* Oh Noooooooooooo!
Lesson # 5: "Shorts"
In English premiership football, due to the inclement weather you will find
many teams togged out in shorts that stretch down to their knees, and in the style of Accrington Stanley circa 1880. But in hurling (and Gaelic football too), there's no mucking about: shorts live up to their name. They are much shorter. In fact the shorter your shorts are when playing hurling, the more you will distract your opposition, and the more likely you are to win. Who needs skill!
Lesson #6: "MicheŠl ” Muircheartaigh"
This is probably the most difficult lesson in the entire series, particularly if you're from abroad. There is probably no more famous name in Gaelic Games than MicheŠl ” Muircheartaigh. Well, apart perhaps from Daly Travel(28-28-20), Fingers Twomey, Twiggy Knee Corcoran , The Park, White Paint Quinny and The Nellie Bus.
"MicheŠl" is Irish for, well, "MicheŠl". A rough translation into other
European languages is "Mikhail" or "Michelle". All of Ireland's greatest
broadcasters have the first name of MicheŠl, with two notable exceptions:
Gay Byrne and Gabriel Byrne. And ” Muircheartaigh is a good South Kerry name. In English it roughly translates as Moriarty.
Broadcaster MicheŠl ” Muircheartaigh became famous from Ireland to Timbuktu for the special language he developed for people to talk about Hurling in all its glory. MicheŠl also covers major greyhound meetings, and beneath that genial exterior is a man of steel and a fierce competitor on the golf course.
Lesson #7: "Heroes Of Hurling History"
The first hero of hurling history was Cuchulainn, who was a sort of
Herculean hero in early Irish politics and was apparently related to C. J.
Haughey. We also forgot to mention in Lesson 1 that clansmen practiced
"shinty", the Scottish form of hurling, alone in the hills of the Highlands
(it was a solo game there for obvious reasons) and around St Andrews Golf
Course. This led to the creation of golf.
Hurling also reached Nova Scotia in the early 1800s and was picked up by the Micmac Indians, to create the multimillion-dollar sport known today as "Ice Hockey". Hence the famous ballad "Micmac Paddy whack Give A Dog A Bone".
Lesson #8: "Talk the Talk"
An essential part of hurling is knowing how to talk the talk. While there
are significant regional variations in this way of speaking, many of the key
terms are much the same from county to county. Take how they talk the talk in the west. For example, try getting your teeth into the unofficial "Galway GAA Glossary"...
According to the glossary, here are the main VERBS you'll need:
#Welt - swing at.
#Bata - eg "I gave it bata" - I put a fair bit of effort into it.
#Warp - hit something hard as in "I'll f*ckin' warp you."
#Horsed - bout of rough play or intimidatory tactics as in we horsed them
out of it. Sometimes referred to as kicking/batin' the shit out of the
#Leh-it-in-ta-fuck-weddya - Full forward's appeal to a midfielder for a more
timely delivery of the pass.
#Yabollixya - Corner back's formal recognition of a score by his esteemed
#Namajaysus - What was that for, referee?
#Next we come to the essential ADJECTIVES:
#Stomached - surprised eg. "Jaysus when he came up behind me I was awful stomached."
#Mighty - very good.
#Mantach - missing front teeth eg. Mairtin Staunton is mantach.
#Bullin' - angry. eg. "the centre half back was bullin' after I lamped him".
#Bull thick - very angry.
#Bushted - broken, e.g. "Jayz me arm is bushted."
#Blast - A great amount of anything.
#Rake - Also a great amount of anything, usually pints of Murphys (as in "a rake of pints").
And finally there are ALL THE OTHER BITS that go between the adjectives and verbs:
#Hames - a right shite - eg. "he made a hames of that clearance".
#Timber - intimidation of a hurling opponent.
#Lamp - a good thump.
#Schkelp - another good thump.
#Joult - a push.
#Joshel - a shoulder push.
#The Comm-it-eeee - Local GAA bullshitters in general.
#A Crowd - Eg. "that crowd from Ardrahan are a right shower of shites".
#The Bomber - a very popular nickname for a GAA player.
#A hang sangwidge - consumed with tay on the sides of roads after matches in Croker or Thurles.
#Citeog - he hit it with his citeog. ie. left handed/footed.
#A Shamozzle - a group of players shkelpin' one another but not exactly
hittin' anyone at the same time!
#Flakin' - usually goes on for a whole game..... eg. "Jayz Paulie Cooney
gave Pateen Og an awful flakin' below in Loughrea on Sunday".
To "flake" a lad for a whole game usually starts off with a bit of the aforementioned "joshellin'" and "joultin'" and develops into a bit of "weltin'" and may even result in a good "lampin'" for the victim especially if he gets "bull thick".
#Mullocker - untidy or awkward player.
#Horse - another untidy or rough player. There's one in every club.
#Burst the Cunt - Common exhortation also referred to as the Turlough roar.
#Row - Fight involving four or more players swinging hurls like lunatics.
#Massive Row - Row involving both team, substitutes and supporters jumping fences.
#Running Row - A massive row that continues out in the parking area and or dressing room areas.
From the The O'Byrne Files © easy-to-follow, comprehensive online guide