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February 7, 2011
December 10, 2002
The irish play a game called Gaelic football; it is like no other football in the world. It is played with a soccer ball but involves picking up the ball, tackling passing and limited offside.
Australians play a game called Australian Rules Football. It is like no other football in the world. It is played with a Rugby type ball but involves more kicking, tackling and no offside.
Once a year the best Gaelic footballers from Ireland and the Best Australian footballers from Australia get together and play against each other in a hybrid of the two games called International Rules. This year the series was played over two matches at Croke Park Dublin.
Croke Park is a large stadium holding up to 90 thousand people. It is only ever used for Gaelic games or the international rules series. When nearly full as for the above series the atmosphere is incredible. The entire crowd sings, and chants and roars as one. Unfortunately it is an outdoor stadium and when the wind is strong and the rain is falling, nowhere stays dry. We were drenched through by quarter time, on a day when the temperature got down to about 4 degrees celcius.
In a crowd of nearly 80 thousand I was one of maybe 5000 Australians, but never felt threatened even though Australia won. The mood was good humoured, thanks in part to no alcohol being drunk in the ground, and no doubt due to the Irish temperament. This was a huge celebration and something to be a part of.
Unfortunately the international rules series is only in Dublin every two years, but Gaelic football and Hurling are played there regularly and are well worth a look.
From journal Dublin for a Break