The oldest and fastest team sport in the world visited Boston yesterday. Hurling, the ancient and Legendary national game of Ireland played out at Fenway Park before a crowd of some 28,000 people including this first timer.
Played with an ash stick called a hurley and a leather ball called a sliothar (which looked like but did not feel like a tennis ball), hurling is a very fast moving game that reminded me simultaneously of elements from hockey, lacrosse, handball and basketball. But, this sport is way more complex and fiercely played out. I could conjure up scenes from Outlander as I watched the competitors use their hands, sticks and legs in an amazing show of athleticism.
Coming into Boston as All Ireland champions of Counties Clare, Galway, Dublin and Tipperary, the 11 player teams zipped through two semi finals with Galway and Clare facing off in the final Players Champions cup in venerable Fenway Park.
After attending the games, I have to say that hockey now appears tame by comparison, so I can only say – well played – to the many parties that brought this all together and sponsors that made for an exciting Irish weekend in Boston.
As a business connector helping Irish companies scale, I had the chance to meet Frances Fitzgerald Tanaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation at a prior event so it was great fun to see her again on the field as she presented the Trophy to Patrick O’Connor for the team. Clare won over Galway in a fiercely fought final, 50-33 and I look forward to the return of Hurling to Boston or me to Ireland – whichever comes first.