Athletics: Lacrosse in Great Britain
Ireland in a Nutshell
by Dan Ryan '09
Finally, we arrive at the Port of Holy Head and connected with the Irish Sea Ferry on our way to Dublin. The ferry was more like a cruise ship and was complete with restaurants, clowns, shops, and couches for everyone. So far, we have not had two hours to relax so the ferry was nice for that.
Upon arriving in Dublin, we checked into a hotel and had a free night with nothing scheduled but to check out the city's night life. Some players went to seek out discos, others to pubs, and numerous clubs. For the next three days of the trip, we stayed in the same hotel. At last, we were settled in one room for an extended period of time.
I could take a full blog to talk about the different tours and attractions like the Book of Kells, Trinity College, Kilmainam Prison. I could probably find a way to talk about the Guinness factory and the "Perfect Pint Pouring Challenge." Well just for the record I believe mine was the best, and closely behind was Todd Watkins (Greensboro, N.C.). Ryan Greaves' (Owings, Md.) pouring skills were just lacking all together; he had a very "poor pour." Anyway, we have done so much here that I really needed to pick one big highlight in Ireland other than lacrosse to talk about.
After a postponement of the games we were to play here, Catawba's Lacrosse team had quite an interesting opportunity which arose. The Irish National Hurling Quarter Finals were moved right into a block of time that originally had been free time on our itinerary. For my readers who do not know what the sport of hurling is, now is a good time to Google or YouTube it. I would like to describe it as rugby, field hockey, baseball, and a little bit of Irish bar fighting all in one. The men who play it are extremely athletic, coordinated, and tough.
Once we heard that there were still tickets available, most of us acted immediately. Our guide was able to track down a good amount of tickets for Saturday's games. The best part was that early Saturday morning, we played Dublin's Select Team. After the game, our tour guide announced that he had extra tickets and sold them to the boys of Dublin Select. After we played and came out victorious with a final score of 12-7, we ran back to the hotel, grabbed a quick shower, and made our way to Groke Park.
We only had about 40 seats and I'm sure that our cheers were drowned out among the other 80,000 fans in this monstrous stadium. Everyone sat together and the players from Dublin Select explained to our parents and players, the rules of hurling. After witnessing live the toughness and passion of hurling, a fair number of us fell in love with the game. Some bought jerseys, others bought sticks and balls, and I even bought a DVD of the game and its rules. The Hurling Quarter Finals have proven to be such a unique part of our trip here.
I think that now is a good time to inform my readers a little more about the lacrosse games we played against the Dublin Select Team. The team had quite an interesting composition of men from all over. The recipe was as follows: mix 4-5 study abroad students from Georgetown's lacrosse team, stir in 6-7 players from the Ireland's National Lacrosse team, throw in the oven with a few local Irish "lads" (being mostly hurlers first, as described above, and lacrosse players second, with the finished product a strong and competitive Dublin Select). They were tough and they sure did hit hard, but we were able to prevail in both games, winning Saturday's 12-7 and Sunday's 13-8.
In the fourth quarter of the second game, both teams decided to end our games in a fun way, letting the players change positions. For example, Brian Ward (Sunderland, Md.), traditionally a defensive player, was put on attack. Alongside him was our goalie, Ben Huber (Westminster, Md.), who was able to trade pads to be put on attack as well. I ended up picking up goalie pads for the fourth quarter and even had a save.
When asked about the trip Coach Bourque said, "Everyone did so well and had so much fun that even our trainer Mike Eden was able to score a goal." I don't really think that Mike will ever let us live that down either.
I have one more blog entry coming. It will be a reflection of the trip a few days after I return home. But if I was asked to reflect now, I would say this is the best trip I have ever been on, packed full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.