Yes, there is an Irish Lacrosse team, let’s get that out of the way first! The kicker? They are pretty damn good. Team Ireland is just back from an intense colourful World Lacrosse Championships, held recently in Denver, USA. The Green Machine managed 6 wins against 2 losses and continued their successful quest to put Irish Lacrosse on the World map.
Ireland enjoyed huge wins in their first three games, sweeping aside their group opponents under a deluge of attacking play. Uganda, France and Bermuda were all demolished by a combined score of 53-11. Ireland then suffered a setback losing to Israel despite 4 goals from Tom Riley. They then embarked on a terrific 3 game winning streak, besting the Czechs, the Swiss and New Zealand.
Ireland finished in 10th place after a tight, hard fought 6-8 loss to Germany.
10th place Worldwide is an excellent position for a young Irish squad that is improving fast and placing Ireland very firmly on the World Lacrosse map. The 10th placed finish out of 38 teams is a testament to itself.
The Irish had to fight very hard for this position, as every single game was played on consecutive days, a ferocious schedule in any sport, but even more so in a physical, tough sport like Lacrosse.
We were delighted to discuss the tournament and indeed Lacrosse in Ireland in general with Irish defensive star Conor Walsh. His comments are really interesting particularly in the context of minority sport in Ireland. Representing Ireland at international level is a joyful thing, but it carries certain sacrifices and responsibilities particularly at the minority sport level. Conor’s interview is a fascinating insight into this.
The interview exposes a really committed, talented group of players in a sport that’s growing fast in the Dublin area in particular, and also talks into some of the intricate and indeed funny aspects of representing Ireland at international level, impressing other teams and making new friends (including Iroquois Nation) in a minority sport setting. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable chat with an excellent ambassador for his sport. Enjoy!
Question: Conor, when did you start playing Lacrosse? Tell us a little about that.
Conor Walsh: I started playing for Ireland back in 2007 when I was 19. I had been playing lacrosse about 18 months or so and played in the world indoor lacrosse championships while doing my exams at UCD. Needless to say they weren't my best results!
Q: Why Lacrosse? What drew you to the sport?
CW: Well to be perfectly honest, I had played rugby at junior’s level in school and fell out of love with playing in the senior cycle so came to college looking for something different. I did a bit of research online before starting at UCD and had marked lacrosse down as a potential sport for me. On the day of the sports expo I was weighing up my options and all the sports clubs cost €10 to join but at the time I only had €2 in my pocket. I went over to the lacrosse stand and would you believe it, it cost €2 to join. I was the second ever person to join UCD lacrosse as it was the sport's first year in the college.
Q: It seems like UCD has a strong connection with the sport in Ireland, is it one of the better clubs?
CW: Yeah it is probably the strongest overall club in the country in terms of player numbers and general talent. That is down to a mixture of resources available to the team including a steady stream of new blood every year, funding from the college and study abroad students from the USA as well as a solid coaching staff in Sean Bodie and Kevin Quinn.
Q: Sounds like a good foundation, does UCD provide a high percentage of the National team squad?
CW: UCD did provide a very strong percentage of players to the Ireland squad during the initial years; however a UCD graduate team formed out of necessity to grow the game in 2009/10 in the Dublin Bay Prawns team who have gone on to be the strongest feeder team to the Ireland squad with 9 players from the Prawns representing Ireland at the World Championships in Denver this year.
Q: Great name! So what kind of a commitment do you have to make personally to the National team, is there a lot of training? How do you balance that with 'real life', work etc.?
CW: You are expected to commit to six gym sessions a week from the time you are selected and additional weekly team training sessions on the field once the Irish Lacrosse League finishes and club teams are no longer doing their own training sessions. It also helps to play wall ball to work on your individual skills and it is recommended you spend an hour a week at that. It is a tough balance to strike. This year for the most part, my life has been Gym/Training/Work/Sleep. Everything outside of those four are difficult to get to.