Passion and Sport
Here is a picture of my cousin Allan O’Connor hanging in The Brown Pub. Allan is a local legendary Cork County Senior footballer. “It’s as high as you can get really,” among the ranks of Irish footballers. Gaelic football is a treasure of the Irish people. The game hosts twenty per side giving the game a battlefield like appearance. The men are allowed five steps while carrying the ball and then must either bounce, kick, or shove the ball off. Bouncing the ball gives the player the most creative maneuverability, but is only allowed either as the first bounce or after the player kicks the ball to himself. The point system is one point for a ball kicked over the bar (field-goal like dimensions) and three points for the back of the net. With a pace much faster than soccer and skills in the arena of American football, rugby, and soccer, watching the match is highly anticipated each week.
The level of play of the match we attended yesterday was inter-county league play. That means spectators are family members, friends, and co-workers of the players. This relationship between the players and fans is nothing like American sports offer. I have never heard people talk about a sporting even for so long after a game, with so many intricate details, and so many stories about a player’s past games, plays, and non-sporting history than I have experienced here in Cork. Sunday is match-day, and conversation unfolds continuously afterwards during night at the pub, early morning at the grocery, in the house throughout the day, on the phone with an unfaltering vigor and passion that only such a tightly knit community could participate in.
American sports get far more national media coverage but Irish sports are more vigorously discussed by the fans.